There is the semi-official combat rebalance that entirely changes the combat. Not sure if you’d think it’s any better, but you might prefer it.
I actually don’t remember now if i played it with the mod or vanilla. I think I played vanilla. Working from that assumption:
The combat actually grew on me, but I thought the entire opening in Kaer Morhen was god-awful in almost every way and it nearly made me quit the game right there.
I always get a feeling that the combat is being unfairly maligned. I mean, if you compare it to a 3rd person combat game then it’s pretty awful, but if you compare it to most RPGs that came before it then it’s at least trying to liven things up (Baldur’s Gate, KotOR, etc…)
The weird thing is the way it straddles the line between old-style isometric-like RPGs and more modern style 3rd person ones. I mean, you can play with the camera zoomed out and it’s kind of like Baldur’s gate
or you can play with the camera zoomed in and it’s kind of like Dragon Age
(Dragon age 1 had this choice too, right?)
I think the fact that you can play it zoomed in makes people compare it to other 3rd person combat RPGs and it comes up wanting (like comparing Mass Effect 1 to a 3rd person shooter).
If you play in the zoomed out view then the combat is more like something like Baldur’s Gate, but with the timing/rhythm-action element attempting to mix in a little more player interaction, but without making the whole thing twitch-based in a way that might alienate traditional RPG players.
It’s not wholly successful, but it makes more sense that way. It’s not supposed to be frantic and exciting, it’s supposed to be point-and-click-rpg combat with a low-paced element of player skill added.
I think the combat does liven up somewhat once you power up the various moves, although it never becomes fast paced or dramatically different. the signs can liven things up a bit, but tbh I tended to hoard them and then forget to use them.
The thing that ‘clicked’ with me was once I got into the rhythm of the attacks and no-longer even needed the prompt on screen. At that point it became more of a zen-like thing. I could get into an almost endless combo and send goons flying in all directions, which in some ways fitted with the witcher-style combat in the books… just a bullet-time-speed version of it.
The only time I’d mess up was when i panicked and clicked too quickly.
The styles work reasonably well, but it’s relatively simplistic in that you tend to just be facing one type of enemy, so you pick the correct style and stick with it. But occasionally you’re making choices about which style to use at that moment. Again though, it’s never really needing twitch-type reactions or switches. It never really becomes an action game.
Some of the dialogue in the first part of the game is almost just random words mashed together… and then at other times (later) the dialogue will occasionally manage to be great. Possibly accidentally.
And this is the enhanced edition!
You must not finish many RPGs I’m not sure I can think of any RPGs that don’t have terrible first 2-3 hours.
(Though Kaer Morhen does stand out as even worse than most).
I agree on The Witcher. It makes a terrible first impression, and then slowly grabs hold of you and draws you in despite still having loads of flaws. On the whole, it improves as it goes along, although sometimes I wondered why I thought it was great when its flaws were obvious and its strengths were harder to identify.