The Witcher 3: Combat for Dummies

Struggling to kill in The Witcher 3? Look no further!

The Witcher series is known for its unique combat mechanics. A lot of players are turned off from the games due to the unfamiliarity of it. If you’re struggling to clear a drowner nest or slay the arch-griffin of White Orchard, look no further.

Dodge monsters, parry everything else

There’s two very broad categories of enemies you’ll fight in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Monsters, and humans/elves/the Wild Hunt; any humanoid with a weapon, basically. Nearly all monsters tend to charge at you without much care for their own well-being, whereas ‘weapon wielders’ often block and parry your attacks. Drowners, for example, often leap at you and swipe; it’s impossible to block these. However, dodging then fast-attacking while they’re still facing away from you is a great way to get some critical hits in. Endrega Warriors are another example, as they often spin around and trap you with their tail slam attack. As soon as it raises its tail, simply dodge to the left and spam a few fast attacks.

On the contrary, blocking/parrying any attacks from melee bandits (for example) will result in them staggering backwards and letting their guard down, allowing you to get a couple of fast attacks in. Then rinse and repeat. The guys carrying two-handed weapons, however, are impossible to block. Just wait for them to commit to an attack, then strike.

Alt dodge over spacebar dodge

There’s two types of dodging in The Witcher 3 - left alt and spacebar. Alt is a simple sidestep in whichever direction you please, whereas spacebar is quite a lengthy roll that allows you to escape danger. Unless you need to do exactly that, escape, you should nearly always be using alt over spacebar, for two reasons:

  1. Spacebar dodging drains your stamina, meaning you’ll need to recuperate for a few seconds before being able to cast a sign.
  2. As alt dodging is a lot shorter, it allows you to counter the enemy a lot more effectively. You’re still very close to them and they’ll likely be facing away from you, resulting in some vital critical hit damage.
Check weaknesses in the bestiary

During every Witcher contract, the beast you’re about to slay will appear in your bestiary, once you know what it is. Always check what weaknesses it has, as applying the right type of oil to your sword and using the right type of bombs can be crucial to slaying it considerably quicker. You can always apply your oils during combat too, provided you drag and drop it rather than double clicking. It’s a small bug that has existed since the game released that still hasn’t been fixed.

Higher damage doesn’t always mean it’s better

All swords you come across will have a base damage figure, but pay attention to the other bonuses too. A 75% critical hit damage bonus with a 50% extra critical hit chance is a much better option than a sword with 20 more base damage. On a similar note, make sure you use the decent glyphs you find, as some can be very useful, especially the ones with a higher chance to poison/stun/freeze.

Fight tactically, don’t spam

Enemies in The Witcher 3 will only allow you to get a few hits in before pushing you back and causing you to stumble. Instead, time your attacks and anticipate their counters by dodging then striking again. Spamming fast attacks one after the other is a sure fire way to get yourself killed, especially against large groups of enemies.

Take out ranged enemies first

There’s plenty of bandit groups scattered across the war-torn land of The Witcher 3, and many of them will often have a few guys wielding crossbows. Always try and take these frustrating folk out first, as they have incredible accuracy and every hit they land will cause you to stumble, allowing their melee friends to get a couple of hits in.

Quen is your best sign

Quen simply gives you a shield that will absorb all damage from enemy attacks. The more you level it up in the skill tree, the better it becomes. Use and abuse it. At higher levels it deals the damage it absorbs back to the enemy. If you know you’re going to be going into a fight, use Quen beforehand, as it’ll stay enabled when you go into combat and you’ll have a full stamina bar right away to deal some damage with Igni.

Bear these seven tips in mind, and if you execute them correctly, even Death March difficulty should be conquerable!

Published Jul. 6th 2015
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