The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
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Starting the game
- If you have a Witcher 1 save then it imports some Orens (gold) and items, plus it may have minor dialogue influences. The items imported are not that much better than what you start with by default. Any imported items start in your inventory, they are not automatically equipped.
- The game creates a new save whenever it saves, it never overwrites old ones. At some point in Act 2 it's probably wise to delete some of them to make loading times quicker. Don't do it in-game, find the proper folder on your hard drive instead. With the Steam version, disable Steam Cloud, otherwise it'll put all those deleted saves right back.
- A highly recommended mod is Better Shop Sale Prices. With this mod merchants will buy things from you at 1/5 of their selling price, by default it’s 1/24. This feels better than hoarding everything to sell it later and/or getting a mod that removes item weight from the game.
- There is an infinite storage chest that is available in every act. In Flotsam (Act 1) you can find it in the basement of the inn. You can also access these storage chests by talking to an innkeeper.
- The Enhanced Edition of the game added a much needed tutorial for controls and combat options. You should also do the flashback sequences in the Prologue in order, from top to bottom (during Roche’s interrogation).
- You will get murdered if you leap into the middle of a group of guys, which is all too easy to do early on. Don't be afraid to do a strategic retreat: attack, roll away, attack - etc. If you are getting closed in then run away a bit. If you are in an enclosed area it may be hard to find space, but just keep moving. Never stop rolling.
- Left-click is a quick strike and right-click is a heavy blow. You should favor the quick hit early on, but a good way to take someone down quickly is to do a couple of quick hits followed by a heavy hit. Quick hits even work on armored guys: if you try to take someone down just using heavy hits then they will usually counter you. You can do a lot of damage if you attack someone from behind or the side, and the same applies when they attack you.
- It is hard to block fast opponents. It is easier to block slow opponents, but they can still damage you (the block just reduces damage). Blocking uses Vigor (stamina) the same as Signs (spells), so if you have no Vigor you cannot block. Blocking is not that useful compared to dodging at the beginning.
- Get the Riposte skill in the Swordmanship tree. It's good regardless of your build, but there are a number of sections where you're playing a different character, and Riposte is the only Witcher skill you have that carries over.
- Aard can stun people but it is not that reliable at the start.
- Yrden places a trap on the group that can completely disable one foe - very useful if you have the space to use it.
- Igni does not do enough damage at the start.
- Quen should be your default Sign most of the time, since it protects you from being staggered and blocks damage. Note that you do not regenerate Vigor when Quen is active.
- Axii is good at the start of an encounter to mind control one person to be on your side. You have to power up Axii by holding the "Q" key down, so it is only useful before the fight starts, unless you can run a distance away.
Items for combat
- Use your potions and bombs. They make a big difference and it is easy to make lots of them not too far into the game.
- You will start with the Herbalist Gloves in your inventory. Equip these to get 2 items when you pluck flowers/mushrooms, which you'll use to craft potions, bombs and oils.
- If you are intimidated by the amount of choice, you can always benefit from these items:
- Potions: Swallow (buffs health regeneration), Rook and Golden Oriole.
- Bombs: Samum or Zerrikanian Sun (you'll have to buy the recipe for the latter).
- Sword oil: Falka's Blood.
- Pressing "Z" activates the wolf medallion which highlights objects, most importantly the loot dropped by enemies. It also reveals magical auras and environmental hazards.
- There are three dialogue "skills": Persuasion, Intimidation and Axii Hex. They have a base chance to succeed and they’ll improve by using them successfully.
- Save at least one copy of EACH of the following ingredients in your storage chest: Endrega Embryo, Troll Tongue, Arachas Eye, Essence of Death, Queen Endrega's Pheromones and Bullivore Brain.
- Mutagens are permanent stat boosts that you can apply to certain skills. They don't change the skill itself. Only skills that are near the end of one the skill trees will have a slot for a Mutagen, so you will not get to use them a lot. Avoid Lesser Mutagens entirely, you want Greater quality. However Concentration, Range and Madness (the best Mutagen) only come in Basic quality.
- The Impregnation skill in the Alchemy tree increases the stat bonus from Mutagens, but it doesn't work on the Mutagens you have already applied. So if you want to maximize the bonus from Mutagens, don't use them until you've put 2 skill points into this skill.
- The skills in the Alchemy tree that say "X while poisoned" refer to the toxicity you gain from drinking potions. They don't refer to being poisoned by enemies.
- You can buy books OR kill a lot of monsters to learn about them. For example, you won't know how to get rid of the Endrega until you gained knowledge about them. Some books that are not monster related play a role in other quests.
- They don't explain the arm wrestling, but you need to gently move your mouse to the right while keeping the icon inside the yellow area.
- There is one easily missable quest in Flotsam (Act 1). Be sure to visit the Blue Stripes' office (Roche's room) to the left of the inn after you’ve been to Loredo’s mansion but before you’ve finished the Rose of Remembrance quest.
- There are stealth portions to the game. They are quite hard, but forgiving if you fail. Although hard, they are quite doable if you proceed with a lot of patience (not easy in a usually fast-paced game). You can extinguish torches. You can knock guys out if you approach directly from behind and right-click. You cannot stand against the wall and have a guard walk past you like in the movies - they will see you. You just have to wait until they have their back to you - even if they are some distance away - and then rush them. If two guards can see each other then don't even try to knock one out, wait until they split up and do not have LoS. If you watch guards from afar then you can easily see the best time to approach them from behind. You don't sneak right up to them, you get close-ish but not too close, wait for them to turn away (back directly facing you), and then rush them.