Please note I was provided a free copy of The Witcher 3 on PC. However I am under no obligation to change my view in light of this. Please also note any links to storefronts are affiliate links which result in the website receiving a small commission with no penalty to yourself
The two mammoth games of the RPG genre. You have to be living under a rock, to not know about these two. This article is for people who are having to choose between buying The Witcher 3 or Skyrim. This isn’t to fuel a fan war. Both games are pinnacles of their subgenre. But one may not be suited to your player style. So here is a breakdown of the plus and minuses of both.
My relationship with either game is very different and their respective game series. The Elder Scrolls (Skyrim) series I’ve played since the third game in the series. Morrowind. Last year, I finally completed the main storyline and enjoyed it hugely. Even if my character did get overpowered. The next game in the series, Oblivion, I got as much gameplay as I could out of it. Even getting every achievement, in between the red rings of death for the Xbox 360. Skyrim on the other hand I had a much more troublesome history with.
For The Witcher series, I’ve read one of the books and watched the first season of the Netflix series. I’ve never played The Witcher 1 or 2, though the first one is now in my library. Just like Skyrim I had trouble immersing myself into the game. However, upon getting the new and improved PC version has made me appreciate it more.
Both The Witcher 3 and Skyrim sport an action real time combat system. As long as your attacks connect with the enemy, they will do damage. The damage amount is then calculated by many different modifiers. Since Skyrim has multiple combat styles that a player can use. They are very limited on what you can do.
In Skyrim you can fight in third or first person. You then have the option of three ways of attacking:
- Melee (Unarmed and with weapons)
On top of these three styles (which you can mix and match) you can also use potions/poisons and enchantments to give your attacks additional qualities. There are some enemies that can only be hurt by either silver/enchanted weapons or spells. The issue I have with the combat is that the easiest way to beat enemies is to become an assassin. By hiding in the shadows and firing an arrow your attack damage gets multiplied which is more than enough to kill most enemies.
The Witcher 3 however, limits your combat style. You can still cast magics, but these are limited to one handed signs. Which are nowhere near as powerful as the wizards and sorcerers. But these signs can make battles with some monsters a lot easier. There is range combat, however it is mostly ineffective and is only useful for luring enemies that fly.
Where The Witcher 3 excels is melee combat. Geralt carries two swords, one of steel and another of silver. The steel weapon is used to dispatch humans. While the silver weapon is used to dispatch anything that isn’t human, such as trolls, drowners etc. Geralt can use a quick or strong attack to injure his enemies. On top of this he can dodge, block and even counterattack. Each battle feels epic and even the smallest of enemies can pose a challenge.
Winner: The Witcher 3 – Even though there are many different combat styles in SKyrim. It pushes you towards being an assassin which makes the combat boring. While The Witcher 3 has a more balanced combat system, which rewards player skill as well as their smarts.
Both The Witcher 3 and Skyrim come with huge amounts of lore. Providing a pleasant experience for the player to indulge into without having to pick up a physical book.
Skyrim has the whole back catalogue of Elder Scrolls games to pull lore from. Each one providing a new hero for the player to investigate. On top of the other games, The Elder Scrolls has its own history to go with it. You won’t only hear about events taking place in Skyrim, but also outside of the continent. The libraries and homes are full of books each with their own story to tell. Though many won’t be relevant to your cause it adds a nice hint of flavor text to the game.
The Witcher 3 takes information from the books and amends it to fit the game’s narrative. Same with the TV series, though the games are a lot closer to the books. Just like Skyrim, there are many books to read that expand the lore. This includes a Bestiary which provides information on each monster that you face. Providing insights as well as strategy to beat each monster. The Witcher 3 makes the player read the bestiary in order to survive. As spamming attacks is useless for certain monsters.
Winner: Skyrim – Even though The Witcher 3 has many books for the player to read. The Elder Scrolls have been around for a longer time. Enabling the writers to create more backstory and even hundreds of years of history.
Both The Witcher 3 and Skyrim have been ported to multiple devices. For this comparison we are looking at the vanilla versions on PC. Both games have also received a ‘next-gen’ update which has improved the visuals so that they don’t look out of place on the most powerful machines.
Audio-wise both titles have brilliant sound, both in sound effects, ambience and music. Both utilize sound to its highest potential. If you check on YouTube you’ll find that the Original Soundtracks for both have playlists and are very popular. In this respect it is an easy draw.
Graphical fidelity on the other hand is a close battle, with one winner. The latest Witcher 3 uses Nvidia’s hairworks to render fur and hair which looks amazing up close. Far more detailed and realistic when compared to Skyrim’s flat look.
The environments in Witcher 3 look more refined and detailed. Such as having blades of grass on the ground instead of a rendered texture with a few blades of grass here and there. The characters in The Witcher 3 are also rendered with greater detail. With Geralt looking very rugged even when shaved. Visually The Witcher 3 is easier on the eye.
Winner: The Witcher 3 – The Witcher 3 beats Skyrim in almost all areas of presentation except Audio. Which they both have an equal footing.
The Witcher 3 or Skyrim?
There are two schools of thought you should look into before deciding which of the two games to play:
Thought 1: You want an adventure game where nothing is black and white. That there interesting recurring characters and you want the characters to look impressive. Go for The Witcher 3
Thought 2: You want to have many options of who you play as, not just a warrior. You want to be able to wield powerful magic and even be a sneaky thief. Plus, you want to go and do your own thing. Go for Skyrim.