Preview: Gwent – The Witcher Card Game (Xbox One)

Who would have thought that a card game within a video game would become so popular? Well, that’s what happened with Gwent. (Any fan of The Witcher series will instantly recognize the name). This little card game gained popularity within The Witcher III: Wild Hunt–a massive action-RPG where players have the opportunity to meet some strange folks, take on quests, and hunt many fantastical creatures. What is truly amazing is that some players enjoyed playing Gwent as much as they did playing the main campaign and side-quests–to the point that players would travel between taverns, just for the chance to challenge NPCs to a card game. That is indeed the beauty of role-playing games: you can do just about anything you want.
Gwent: The Witcher Card Game is a stand-alone product and a result of the card game’s rising popularity. Believe it or not, this project was not out-sourced. CD Projekt Red built the game from the ground up. It does not matter whether or not you have played the mini-game or The Witcher III. A tutorial has been included for anyone who wants to learn the rules of Gwent. I chose to quest and hunt monsters rather than play card games in The Witcher III, but I really took interest in the lore and stories that took place in the Witcher universe. Gwent does a great job of capturing all of that, as it should.

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Before I begin going into further detail, I am required to note that this a Closed Beta version. Gwent is still in development and being refined during this beta test.
The presentation itself is pretty much what I would expect from a digital card game. The menus contain the proper sections for playing a match, viewing your collection/deck-building, and purchasing/opening card packs. Gwent looks great on the card table as well and very similar to the mini-game that it is based on, featuring great artwork for the various types of units and characters, along with some nice special effects as certain cards are being played. During gameplay, I was pleased to discovered that the original voice actors from The Witcher have returned to do the voicework for some of our favorite characters, including Geralt himself.

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Gwent is a card game that is easy to learn but tough to master. Those words get thrown around too often, but are none-the-less very true for Gwent. After learning how to play, I tested my skills against the A.I. and was absolutely destroyed. My favorite thing about this card game versus any other is that depleting your enemy’s HP is not the objective. The basic objective is to build an army with a combat rating higher than your opponent’s. Each card you play has a combat value, along with any other abilities it may have. Three rows on each side of the playing field cover three types of cards you can play: Melee, Ranged, and Siege. The biggest difference from other chard games is that you don’t actually draw any extra cards throughout the match unless you have cards that allow you to do so. To gain a full victory, you must also win two out of three individual rounds.
Gwent is clearly a game of wits. I found the deep level of strategy to be so brutal and yet so extremely addicting. There are nearly an endless amount of possible strategies that you can put to use in order to gain the victory. Fans will be pleased to see that all of the decks that were available in the original mini-game are back, including the Skelige deck that wasn’t introduced until the Blood & Wine expansion pack of The Witcher III. This version of Gwent also includes special hero cards, not featured in the original version of the card game to my knowledge. These cards feature notable characters from The Witcher franchise, including Geralt, Triss, and many more. Not too surprisingly, these special cards contain higher combat values, along with unique abilities that you can use to your advantage.

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Based on my experience so far, I still haven’t gotten the hang of learning how to save my cards with the limitation on drawing new ones. Despite that, I am thoroughly enjoying the level of strategy that simply comes from the objective itself, along with the fact that Gwent features a “round” system that reminds me a fighting game. I love the fact that, if I mess up, I can try to bounce back in the next round, and sometimes it’s even more strategical to lose a round if I have to.
Long before Gwent was realized as an independent game, fans of The Witcher III’s Gwent were contacting CD Projekt Red, asking them to make Gwent a stand-alone card game. CD Projekt Red was silent in response to the demand, but in reality had already begun work fulfilling the fandom’s wishes. The announcement of Gwent: The Witcher Card Game at last year’s E3 was the best gift any fan could have received from a developer, which is one of the many reasons that CD Projekt Red has become so beloved in the industry.
Gwent is due to release on PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4 in the near future. Want to get in on the action? Anyone can sign up for the closed beta right here.

L.J. Lowery

Born in southern California, but currently residing in Lafayette, Louisiana. Loves Hip Hop music, comics, and video games. Events/Media Coordinator, Podcast Producer, and Public Relations.

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