Free To Play Guide: Warframe

The last mmorpg I played and had heavily invested hours of  leveling up my characters on different classes was Prefect World which offered a classic seamless open world mmorpg where one can get easily lost wondering an exploring alone. The grind still catches up to you though and after more than 1000 hours logged and characters at lvl 106. I started staying away from mmorpg’s for good while and played PC Game titles such as Prince of Persia’s Franchise, Skyrim, and Assassins Creed Saga from AC1 to Syndicates. I’ve noticed games are evolving and are not just offering cool powers to bring down your enemies, action, magic, adventure, or lore. Open world games that offer a lot of content for discovery and freedom to explore the environment have been popping out for the last 3 years from Skyrim, Dragon Age Inquisition, and the game that is still setting the benchmark for open world PC game titles The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt.

After a while you miss that interactive gameplay with other people and start looking for new game titles that might offer something different. I’ll be honest playing single player PC game titles can get pretty lonesome. So I started browsing steam for new titles and I found something called “Warframe” with its game trailer saying “Nijas Play for FREE!!!! (OMG even better it’s for free!!!) I know I’m such a cheap bastard but gaming can be an expensive hobby and I would like to see some free stuff out there can offer some really interesting content.

I started playing Warframe about January last 2016 and after 2042 hours or more logged over at Steam. The game is among one of the most-played games available on Steam. Digital Extremes attributes the success of the title to the frequent updates they are developing for the game and the game’s fanbase. Digital Extremes describes the game as a “rogue success”, as the game is able to secure and sustain a large number of players without gaining significant attention from other people. More than 26 million players have played the game upon launch. It’s been a year of extensive gameplay of a refreshing new free to play mmorpg and I can’t remember the last time I got hooked by a free to play game title.

Warframe is a free-to-play cooperative third-person shooter video game developed by Digital Extremes for Microsoft WindowsPlayStation 4, and Xbox One. In Warframe, players control members of the Tenno, a race of ancient warriors who have awoken from centuries of cryosleep to find themselves at war with different factions.

In Warframe, players control the Tenno, a race of ancient warriors who have awoken from centuries of cryosleep to find themselves at war with the Grineer, a race of militarized and deteriorated human clones; the Corpus, a mega-corporation with advanced robotics and laser technology; the Infested, disfigured victims of the Technocyte infection; and later the Sentients, an alien force of mechanical beings returning from the Tau system after being driven back centuries ago. To fight back, the Tenno use remotely controlled biomechanical suits to channel their unique abilities — the eponymous Warframes.[1] Later missions reveal that the Warframes are actually biomechanical shells which are connected to the consciousness of the actual Tenno, human children who were given unpredictable powers by the Void. Those powers led to them being demonized and they were exiled into stasis pods on the Moon. The Tenno and their Warframes were used by the Orokin Empire in a desperate fight against the Sentients and stopped their invasion. However, for unknown reasons, the former turned on the latter and caused the Empire to collapse. The Empire shattered with the remnants becoming the Grineer and the Corpus while the Tenno were placed in stasis until centuries later.

GAMEPLAY

The player may engage in PvE content through missions or PvP content through “Conclave”. There are also “Quests”, which are a set of PvE missions with a narrative or story behind them.

Available missions are scattered across the planets of the solar system, the moons Phobos, Europa, Lua (Earth’s moon), and dwarf planets Pluto, Ceres, Eris and Sedna. Players can also access missions set in a pocket dimension known as The Void through completing junctions on other planets or through Void Fissures, small volatile rifts which react with acquirable Void Relics.

The titular Warframes are biomechanical suits that possess a set of 4 active abilities as well as a passive ability, as well as varying attributes and statistics. The player begins with a choice of Warframe among 3 initially offered. Additional Warframes can be acquired through various in-game activities, such as mission rewards, quest rewards, etc. Players can possess all Warframes in their inventory but may only equip one at a time. Warframes, as well as various other elements in the game, are highly color-customizable. New Warframes are developed and released every 3-5 months.

The players are equipped with three weapons: a primary weapon (such as a rifle, bow, or shotgun), a secondary weapon (typically a pistol, but sometimes ranged bladed weapons like kunai), and a melee weapon (such as swords, axes, and hammers). All equipment can be upgraded with “mods” that drop from enemies or are given as mission rewards; these can be installed, removed and upgraded into slots on the piece of equipment. Companions can also be equipped and accompany Tenno on missions, each with their own powers. These can be floating mechanical sentries, or, following a quest, players can earn their own Kubrow, a canine-esque monotreme with a horned nose, or a Kavat, a feline-esque animal with reptilian features. Warframes, equipment, companions as well as various other elements in the game can level up, which increases attributes and/or allowing more “mods” to be equipped.

Players rest and travel in their own small, customizable ship in-between missions. Up to four (Trial missions allow eight) players work together to complete missions, such as eliminating enemies, retrieving data from terminals, assassinating high ranking/dangerous targets, defending an artifact, or surviving as long as possible, before they can be extracted and the mission considered a success. Missions are ranked on a level basis, indicating the strength of opponents the player will face. There are various endless wave missions, which enables the players to continue for as long as they like, with increasingly difficult enemies and proportionally greater rewards.

The camera is positioned over the shoulder for third-person shooting. The player can jump, sprint, slide, and roll, as well as combine techniques to quickly move throughout the level and avoid enemy shots. The game also allows players to utilize parkour techniques to evade enemies, bypass obstacles or gain access to secret areas. Maps are generated procedurally with pre-built rooms connected together so that no levels have the same layout. At times, the player will be required to hack security terminals by completing a puzzle mini-game within a small time limit to proceed in the missions. Credits, ammo, resources, and mods can be found in set locations, such as lockers and destructible containers, as well as dropped by enemies. If a player’s Tenno loses all its health, that Tenno is down; if the player is alone, they can expend one of their revives for that mission to be returned to full health, while if with other players, another player can revive that Tenno. If all Tenno are down and no one revives, or in the case of certain missions if the objective is not met, the mission ends prematurely with players forgoing any rewards beyond what they have already collected.

New weapons, Warframes, equipment, and blueprints to construct such equipment can be purchased in the market, using either Credits earned in-game, or Platinum, a premium currency that can be purchased via microtransaction or traded for in-game.[2] Also, some blueprints are dropped by certain enemies. Gear defined by blueprints can be constructed using resources collected from missions. Players can engage in trading/selling of some of earned blueprints and gears as well.

Waking Up

After a short cut scene, players start off with a choice of three starter Warframes: Excalibur, Mag, or Volt (A year back it was only Excalibur offered as a starter frame). Other Warframes can be purchased using Platinum or crafted in the Foundry later on in the game. Primed variants of the standard Warframes are also available in the game and are received in the form of prime blueprints as a reward for unlocking void relics. The game starts off with a tutorial mission that walks players through the basics of movement and combat. Unfortunately, there is no option to skip the tutorial since the tutorial mission is part of the game’s story. The tutorial mission will have players trying to evade capture and escape Grineer forces with help from the Lotus. After successfully escaping on the player’s old ship, they then proceed to go on missions to repair the ship’s damaged segments. Oris, the ship’s AI, literally has a few screws loose. Whether it’s from sustaining damage or from being abandoned and left alone for too long, we’ll never know for sure, but that AI definitely has some issues. Some of his lines really had me cracking up, especially the part about being self-destructed during a bout of depression early in the game. Replacement segments for the ship are acquired by completing the first few missions. The first mission to retrieve the communications segment can only be done solo. Succeeding missions can then be completed alone or with help the help of friends through the game’s cooperative mode.

Carrying Out Orders

After the tutorial mission, the game continues as a campaign that slowly acquaints players with Warframe’s gameplay features, such as crafting and upgrading, while revealing the story of the Grineer’s plans for domination and why the Tenno need to stop them. Missions can be accessed through the ship’s cockpit. After completing the campaign, players can choose from a variety of missions located in different planets and moons across the solar system. Missions range from simple extermination and sabotage to more difficult ones, like survival and rescue missions. Some missions also take place in space. Space missions, however, require that a player’s Warframe is equipped with Archwings – the first of which can be acquired by completing a quest upon reaching Mastery Rank 2. Aside from the loot that players pick up during the course of the mission, successfully completing missions also rewards players with credits, items for crafting, as well as Modules (Mods for short) to upgrade their Warframe parts. Achievements, like getting a certain number of stealth kills or killing a certain number of enemies, are also automatically awarded to players once they meet the requirements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Way of the Ninja

Warframe’s controls are easy enough to get used to and is quite similar to typical FPSs. The environment allows players to sprint, slide, jump, do backflips, and run on walls to gain an advantage over enemies during combat. Combat can be as fast or slow as players want it to be. They can opt for the shock and awe method or they can use stealth to their advantage, depending on their preferred playstyle. Mission levels and enemy positions are randomly generated using pre-designed rooms and halls, so no two missions are the same. However, some of the levels still look pretty much the same, even if they’re randomly generated, and tend to get old fast, especially when grinding for that rare item needed to craft the weapon of your dreams. Even though combat is fast-paced and fun, Warframe feels a bit too easy sometimes.

End Game: FashionFrame

Warframe features an in-depth customization system that lets players customize basically everything about their Warframes, from the type of helmets and shoulder pads to their overall color scheme. Players can also choose from a variety of weapons depending on the mission or their playstyle. Feel like going Rambo on the Grineer? Strap on an assault rifle and a sub-machine gun, and blast your way through their ranks. Want to take on a rescue mission with a bit of stealth and finesse? Equip a bow, throwing knives, and a futuristic katana and stealth-kill your way through the whole mission.

Bigger and Better

Weapons and Warframes can both be customized and upgraded using Mods that players acquire as loot, as rewards for completing missions, or by purchasing the from the item shop. Mods can also be bought, sold, or traded with other players. Rare mods can even be sold for Platinum, the game’s premium currency. Another way to get Mods is to Transmute four unranked Mods to generate one random Mod. Weapon Mods are different from those used for Warframes and are automatically sorted in the Arsenal menu. Mods, when equipped, give bonuses to a weapon or to a Warframe’s stats or abilities. Keep in mind, though, that the number of equipable Mods and are limited by the available Mod capacity. The number of Capacity points a Mod uses up is shown on the Mod description. Mods can be swapped out at any time by visiting the ship’s Arsenal bay.

Weapons gain Affinity or XP when used in combat and increase in rank when the Affinity points reach a certain level (up to a maximum of 30 levels). Mastery Points are also awarded to players when one of their weapons levels up. Players gain Mastery Ranks when their Mastery Points reach a certain level. Higher Mastery Ranks unlock additional weapons and Warframes, and increases a player’s daily trade limit.

Like weapons, Warframes also gain Affinity points and gain rank up to Level 30. Warframes are rewarded Affinity points by using abilities, killing enemies, reviving fallen teammates, completing objectives, or by simply completing the mission. Aside from getting additional Mod capacity, Warframes also get passive increases to health, shields, and energy capacity as well as Mastery Points. Warframe abilities are also unlocked automatically and improve every few levels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foundry

The Foundry is a section of a player’s ship where crafting takes place. Player can craft Weapons, Warframes, Archwings, and Sentinels (mechanical “pets” that assist in combat), provided that they have the items and blueprints required for crafting. Players then have to wait for the crafting process to finish, which happens in real time. Items with long build times can be left building since the process continues even when the player is offline. Players can also spend Platinum to instantly complete the process. Different items, however, require different amounts of Platinum to instantly finish.

Check this trailer compilation on Warframe’s content on Youtube

Final Verdict – Great

For a free-to-play game, Warframe is a great MMO that can keep players entertained and hold their attention for hours on end, unless you’re the type that’s easily put off by grinding for items because this game has more than its fair share of repetitive grinding. The lack of endgame content and goals may also deter hardcore players. Even so, it’s still worth checking out, even if it’s just for the campaign or for players looking for a change of pace from their usual mainstream games. The community is awesome and its been the most non-toxic gaming environment I have ever been into. Overall, I’m hooked and two tiers away from its highest mastery level. Warframe is a fun game with huge potential. Aside from the visual eye-candy, the fast-paced gameplay and ninja/parkour combat alone should be enough to entice even the most finicky player. I mean, who doesn’t love ninjas?

 

NOTE: If you want to try out the game, click my In Game Name and join our Storm Clan.n be sure to add me as a friend so I can help your journey as well.

IGN: Mordhekhai

Clan: Amestris

Position: Councillor

Mastery Rank: Rank 21

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FREE! – Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovereign Review

One of the biggest problems facing RPGs is the stagnation of turn-based combat. While it’s not something that ruins every game, it’s hard to deny that constantly clicking through a menu with limited interaction isn’t very engaging. Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovereign breaks through this mold with an overhand swing by creating a touch-based combat system that’s fun and surprisingly deep. Did I mention that it has great visuals and is free to play?

Your typical playthrough of Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovereign will look something a great deal like Infinity Blade. You’re seeking to destroy a great force of destruction (Sovering, Demon of Grief), but you have to battle through waves of enemies in one-on-one combat to get to him. Unlike your typical RPG, gameplay puts a high emphasis on combat and a low emphasis on story.

Your journey begins by choosing one of five unique heroes. Each one brings a different skill, elemental affinity, and weapon. Whether you want to pound your way through with Ursula’s war hammer or fry your foes with Torus’ magic, there’s a character that will fit your play style.

Each section of the game is divided into its own chapter of five to ten unique encounters. Every victory brings you experience, gold, and loot, while also bringing you another step closer to Sovereign.

 Revenge of Sovering

Battles make complete use of the iOS touch screen, with directional swipes, taps, and motions determining your every action. Unlike traditional turn-based systems, Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovereign is constantly active, with character models striking and weaving throughout the battle. Every foe has a respectable set of combat animations, making each fight feel unique and dynamic.

Gameplay begins simply: a swipe of a finger attacks your enemy in the direction that you please. However, as the game presses on, the system gets pretty heavy. Certain blows will spill mana orbs from your target, which can be collected in order to unleash powerful magic attacks. Certain enemy attacks will expel rage orbs, which allow you to engage in a risk-reward system of combat bonuses. Some enemy attacks can be dodged by completing a quick-time event, such as tapping all of their magic orbs in time, or by successfully recreating a memory sequence.

It sounds like a lot to handle, but the game introduces each new element one-by-one in a tutorial that keeps things easy to understand.

 Revenge of Sovering

The only factor that I didn’t really enjoy was the game’s execution feature. Occasionally, enemies you fight can be expelled by a gory Mortal Kombat-style finishing move. Unlike Mortal Kombat, however, the move is mandatory, and rewards you with twice the amount of loot. For a game that really isn’t very violent otherwise, it’s a pretty strange mismatched aesthetic.

Aside from chapter combat, there are plenty of side quests at your disposal. Each completed area draws loyal citizens who pledge money to your cause. Occasionally, a monster will attack the citizens, giving you a chance to fend them off and keep your gold earnings high. Completed areas can also be scoured for treasure with scarabs, letting you earn large rewards of treasure and items through a lock-picking minigame.

Being a free-to-play game, there’s the usual pick of in-game and premium real-money currency. You can buy the game’s best items right away with real money if you want, but there’s no point if you want a decent challenge. I was able to play for several hours without having to invest a dime, and I was able to buy plenty of gear along the way with regular gold.

 Revenge of Sovering

The problem, however, is that this system doesn’t last forever.

By the time that I had been stumped (at the final boss of chapter 4), there simply wasn’t enough gold available in order to power up without dropping real-life money. I’m not opposed to a system like this at all, especially after a game has let me play it for nearly half a dozen hours for free. Unfortunately, one quick look at the game’s shop had me looking the other way.

In my scenario, it would have cost me 1600 of the game’s premium currency in order to upgrade each of my eight pieces of armor. The cheapest way to get that much currency through microtransactions? A whopping twenty-three dollars. While I’m not sure that I would need an upgrade for all eight of my items in order to beat the boss that I’m stuck on, that is still a very steep price to climb.

Yet, despite the giant price hurdle, I really can’t complain too much. Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovereign looks great, plays great, and has plenty of different modes to keep a player occupied for a long time. While Mail.ru could likely have drawn several more hours from me with a more attractive premium system, I still loved the zero time I spent with it, and will likely be trying out a second character soon.

Pros:

  • High production value with cutscenes, voices, and dozens of unique models and animations. Unique and engaging turn-based combat system. Several minigames and extra features to keep you occupied for hours.

Cons:

  • “Execution” feature seems very out of place. Difficulty curve skyrockets at the end of chapter 4, requiring a considerable amount of in-app purchases to stay competitive.
General Overview of the Game
The graphics of this game are fantastic. The attention to detail is outstanding. – PadGadget (4/5)
Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovereign looks great, plays great, and has plenty of different modes to keep a player occupied for a long time. – GameZebo (4/5)
Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovering is a unique experiment in touchscreen gaming, and brings something unexpected to the fantasy action genre. – Slide To Play (3+/4)
This is a fantastic game. It is beautiful and has amazing graphics. The gameplay is exciting without being overwhelming. –AppAdvice
If you are a fan of turn-based RPGs, this game is a must for your collection, and even if you weren’t before, this game might just make you a fan of the genre. – iPhone Life
*******
An entirely new breed of RPG has risen from the smoldering ashes of Haradan. You, as one of 6 legendary warriors known as “Scorpions”, are entrusted to defeat the terrifying Sovering and save the land. Venture into a surreal 3D world to slay over 100 horrifying beasts and complete perilous quests on your way to an epic final battle against the formidable demon! After eons of ceaseless bloodshed, the time to destroy civilization’s greatest adversary has come. Can you take on the legion and fight your way to freedom?
–Features–
– 6 customizable legendary warriors to choose from: each with unique skills, back stories and weapons
– 12 classes of mighty armor
– A wide array of items and weapons that change the appearance of your hero
– 4 schools of magic and 12 fighting spells for you to cast upon enemies
– 30 levels of progression for each hero
FIGHTING MECHANICS LIKE NEVER BEFORE
– Choose to fight your enemies 3 different ways: Tap, swipe, or use combo-hit control!
– Turn based fighting with unique twists: act swiftly and be sure your enemy isn’t looking in the direction you attack from
– Epic cinematic executions for each hero
– 3 in-fight mini games: “collect the mana”, memory game and fighting the “evil eye”
FIGHT FOR HARADAN’S FREEDOM
– 100+ terrifying enemies to fight
– 30+ hours of heart-stopping gameplay
– 15 unique locations, from forests and deserts to cities and caves, in which to battle fiends
– 5 special quests that open 5 out of 15 secret locations
– 2 mini games: locating buried treasure and lock picking
– 50+ achievements
– Beautiful 3D graphics
Keep up with all the Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovering buzz by visiting us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JuggerMobileGame
“Juggernaut: The Revenge of Sovering” – innovations in the game!
The first players have already set foot on the scorching land of Radway to do battle against the terrible Sovering and his minions. But this does not mean that the game’s developers are resting on their laurels. Work is constantly underway to improve Juggernaut: The Revenge of Sovering!
There are no limits to perfection, and the creators of “Juggernaut: The Revenge of Sovering” have many more surprises in store.
  • Note : No Root Required
  • This Application May Have not purchased “ERROR” you can Clear Data of Juggernaut from Manage APPS and place data folder properly,then play.
password : Galaxy4Gaming.in
Install APK and place data folder in SDCard/Android/Obb/ and play
Data Folder LOCATION: Android/Obb/ru.mail.games.jugger

Slender GAME scared the living crap out of me!!!

A first person horror game where your goal is to find eight scripts about a paranormal creature called Slender Man.

You start of at night in a forest, and your only source of light is a flashlight that will run out of juice pretty quickly. You can turn off the battery to conserve power, but that leaves you standing in the dark with only the stars in the sky to lead your way.

The documents that you need to find are found on larger objects like a building, a giant tree or a rock formation, so that you do not have to stare down on the grass and every single tree you come across to see if one of the documents can be found there.

The game area is fenced and you have paths that you can use to walk around on the map. You are not limited to those though, and it is perfectly possible to wander off in hope of finding a shortcut or escaping Slender Man who is after you.

Slender Man’s presence becomes more apparent once you find the first sheet of paper. When Slender Man comes close, music starts to play to warn you of the presence. You can sprint instead of jog when that happens, but sprinting reduces your characters stamina which you need to refresh by walking or standing still.  You should not look at Slender Man during an encounter as it will end the game if you do that for too long.

General game controls, moving, running, collecting pages, etc.

  • W,A,S,D – Moving
  • Mouse – Look around you
  • Left Mouse Button – collect script notes
  • Right Mouse Button – Flashlight
  • Left Shift – Run
  • Q/E – Zoom-In/-Out

“The more directly you come in contact with the Slender Man, the faster your sanity drains.”

Things you should know:
  • The difficulty increases with each collected page (note).
  • After collecting 3 pages Slender Man will appear right in front of you. RUN!
  • You can use the sky to keep your orientation.
  • Only run when necessery.
  • The 8 places to collect the pages are marked in the slender-world map.

Graphics are pretty good for an indie game, and the sound effects fit well into the game as well.

Slender is a portable game for Windows and Mac that should run on all recent versions of both operating systems. It is not a game that will keep you entertained for hours, but the intensity of getting closer to finding all eight pages is well worth the download.

I took down my own video playing this sick game! For those looking for a real scare… this is way better than RE5 or Silent Hill

Outsourcing Trend in the Philippines Game Moderation

Massive multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPGs) have grown in popularity during recent years, causing teenagers and adults to spend many hours in front of their computers. The increasing demand for MMORPGs paved the way for further technological developments in this area.
However, like any medium, MMORPGs have its share of problems. Hacking, cheating, and discord among players can ruin a good game for a lot of people. This is where game moderation comes in. Game moderators make sure that all players adhere to the guidelines. They may also deal with conflict, should it arise between gamers.
Game moderation is a demanding task. The moderator puts in a lot of working hours, given that there’s round the clock activity in gaming sites; international subscribers contribute to this. Hacking is a perennial problem, as it causes legit gamers to lose their accounts and accumulated points. Cheating codes, when exchanged between gamers, lower the game’s level of challenge. Conflict between gamers is also inevitable when they get too carried away, and when unnoticed, can evolve into cyber bullying.
Game moderation’s obstacles hurt the website in more ways than one. For instance, hacked accounts cheat gamers out of profiles that they worked hard for. Moreover, gaming sites infested with hacking and cheating codes dilute user experience, and so users are bound to play somewhere else. This can equate to a decline in sales as well as poor brand reputation. Incessant conflict may also reduce the website into a little more than a squabbling site where people attack each other instead of enjoying the games.
Given the complications that may arise, game moderation is a basic requirement for any gaming site. Outsourcing game moderation to a third-party service provider is a viable option. The Philippines, a leading offshoring and outsourcing destination, has providers that offer game moderation services for a fraction of the price. Employees are also willing to work rotating shifts to accommodate the specific gaming hours of online gamers.
For more information click here.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is a gift, gilded with moments that stay with you even after the curtains close on its dark tale of uncertain pasts and uncertain futures. Like the rare Roses of Remembrance you might find growing in this role-playing game’s lush fields, these moments are carefully cultivated. They’re meaningful not just because they are packed with excitement, but also because there are stakes–both personal and political. As Geralt of Rivia, your actions don’t just bring you closer to the truths of your own murky history, but they also influence the tides of war. And just as you exert your power on this game’s events, they work their power on you, drawing you further into a gorgeous world populated by quarrelling trolls and drunken, sex-crazed dwarves. Some bugs, combat quirks, and other foibles prove bothersome, but they don’t greatly diminish the impact of exploring a dungeon whose walls ooze the agony you’ve just witnessed. This superb role-playing sequel offers a bold world woven together by tenuous alliances and closely guarded secrets.

The Witcher 2’s phenomenal visual design isn’t its defining characteristic, but it’s an effective lure and makes for an immediate connection with the game’s provocative tone. On the outskirts of a dwarven enclave, sunlight glistens upon a misty pond; a tower just beyond it bristles with potent magical properties; the underbrush surrounding you casts deep shadows, yet rays of golden sun coax you onward. In The Witcher 2, sights like these communicate so much. The delicate lace of a sorceress’s collar gives her a regal air, yet dark makeup and dark brown eyes speak to mysteries beneath the surface. A red scar above a defiant elf’s upper lip is not just a testament to past violence–it suggests a permanent scowl. Walls, cliffs, and meadows aren’t just repeated textures. Look closely at the patterns carved into a stone column, and you notice how each one is slightly different. These may seem like unimportant details, but they’re indicators of how much care went into every facet of this game’s environments and character models.

The superlative art is rendered by equally superlative technology that ensures you can admire the rips on a mercenary’s trousers, a harpy’s individual feathers, and the buckles and seams on Geralt’s clothing. Yet The Witcher 2 is as much about grand gestures as it is textural detail. You cross paths with a giant dragon and other grotesqueries, each of which moves with a sense of weight appropriate to the creature’s proportions. Pungent colors, roaring flames, and shafts of glowing light make mainstay environments like sewers and caves a wonder to explore. Impressively, all of this beauty is rendered using DirectX 9 technology rather than the newer DirectX 11. The game is nevertheless demanding of your hardware, though it is attractive even at lower settings. A few imperfections stand out amidst all the graphical wizardry, such as mechanical facial animations, characters that pop in during cutscenes, and the occasional frame rate dip. But such quibbles are easily tolerated in this luxuriant digital world.

And what a world it is, alive with activity yet tinged with violence and sorrow. The opening moments ready you for the game’s brutal overtones, showing a captive Geralt of Rivia whipped and taunted by his jailers. Geralt’s defaced flesh is not an easy sight to take in, but it’s thematically relevant: The witcher is scarred by his past. Geralt, once thought dead, is still piecing together his memories of a savage battle and a beauty called Yennefer. The story takes its cue from these lost memories, juxtaposing violence and sex. It also presents both as inevitable and natural results of the human (and nonhuman) condition. You can still bed various women in The Witcher 2, as you could in the original game, though you no longer collect sex cards. Lovemaking (or ploughing, as so many characters call it) is a frequent subject of conversation, and it’s one of Geralt’s favorite pastimes. You can bed a few different women, and the game hardly shies from nudity, handily earning its mature rating. The lacerations on Geralt’s back are a stark reminder, however, that this earthly pleasure is only a temporary respite for him.

But The Witcher 2 is not primarily about sex, nor violence. It’s about the search for truth. Geralt seeks clues to his past, as well as the royal assassin that ended the life of King Foltest at the conclusion of The Witcher. This man’s identity is not a secret for long, but then, this is not a murder mystery; rather, it’s a chronicle of discovery, redemption, and political upheaval. Geralt is blamed for Foltest’s murder, but as he gets closer to the true killer, he becomes more and more involved in the region’s power struggles. Not including the prologue and epilogue, The Witcher 2 is split into three acts. The first is primarily concerned with following the killer’s trail, while the second greatly expands the plot, introducing so many new characters and so much lore that you might be initially confused. Yet, the convoluted plot seems poised to explode in the final episode, only to fizzle at the end. The lack of closure intimates a sequel, and it makes the final act feel abrupt when compared to the robustness of the first two.

Characters new and old both assist and hinder Geralt’s quest. These include the flamboyant bard Dandelion and the earthy Zoltan, a foul-mouthed dwarf who, like most of The Witcher 2’s dwarves, loves women and drink. Dwarves are a rich source of humor in most role-playing games, and The Witcher 2’s are no exception. Yet, the tone is different here. These are the raunchiest dwarves you’ve ever encountered, yet the comedy is undercut by underlying anguish. It’s initially funny to learn that teetotaling dwarves are outcasts. But when a dwarf confides that he fears being ostracized because he doesn’t drink, you understand his dread. You might admire a bearded character’s enthusiasm for heading to battle for the first time, but when pressed, he admits his misgivings. Aside from the occasional expository speech, most of the dialogue sounds natural, including the asides spoken by random citizens. Most of the voice actors do a good job of bringing these characters to life, in spite of the occasional hollow note. (The actress playing Triss Merigold again sounds like a random meter maid rushed into the studio for some last-minute line readings.)

The Witcher 2 is not an open-world game in the way of The Elder Scrolls games; each area is relatively contained though expansive enough to encourage exploration. The rewards for doing so aren’t just pretty vistas. You might uncover a chest that can be opened only by interpreting the clues on a nearby scroll or stumble upon a giant arachnid guarding treasure. However, the game’s flexibility isn’t a result of wide-open journeys; it is the extraordinary ways you can influence the story and fundamentally change the direction of your future travels. For example, choices you make at the end of Act 1 not only determine how immediate story events play out, but also have a dramatic impact on the entire game. The characters at your side, the enemies you face, the dialogue–they all differ based on a series of decisions that the game never forgets. And these aren’t “good” or “bad” choices: these are ambiguous circumstances with ambiguous results, which is just as well. Geralt is not interested in heroism or villainy. He navigates turbulent waters seeking neither justice nor injustice, only answers.

A number of stupendous moments punctuate your choices. Typically, the events you most fondly recall from RPGs are story related: the characters, the plot twists, the losses, the finales. By contrast, The Witcher 2 etches gameplay events into your imagination. What you remember most isn’t just what you witness, but what you experience firsthand. Once such moment occurs when a large clash on a battlefield causes it to become awash with a golden supernatural mist. This moment is recalled several times later yet retains its power due to its otherworldly ambience, sense of scale, and fun combat. Its terrifying scream makes your first encounter with a harpy unforgettable. Viewing another’s memory, taking on a ghostly identity, and other inspired occurrences plant seeds of apprehension: you never know what might be lurking around the bend.

If you played the original Witcher, then forget what you learned from its combat mechanics. The Witcher 2 abandons that rhythmic system for a more traditional and challenging one. You still switch between silver and steel swords, depending on whether you are facing monsters or humans, but regardless of the weapon you equip, be prepared for the occasional beatdown. You initiate standard attacks with your mouse, and you block and cast signs (Geralt’s magic spells) with the keyboard. (You may also use a gamepad.) Your first encounter during the prologue/tutorial makes for a punishing introduction: Expect to die a few times as you learn just what the game expects of you. The extreme difficulty right off the bat, paired with tutorial hints that don’t pop up long enough or soon enough to be much help, don’t make for the friendliest introduction. But you learn an important lesson: You must tread carefully. Eventually you grasp the rhythm, which is similar to that of the PlayStation 3 game Demon’s Souls. You must position yourself well and pay close attention to your supply of vigor, which is required to block, as well as cast signs; get in a few choice hits; and then block or tumble into a safer position. You may also want to soften the enemy or control the crowd by throwing bombs (blind them!) or laying traps (turn enemies on each other!), particularly during the first act, when you feel most vulnerable.

Even after you grow accustomed to The Witcher 2’s combat, there are a few scenarios that are more than just difficult: They are cruel. A couple of boss fights are frustrating, as is a quest in a dark cramped mine that has multiple dwarves crowding you, all while you are hounded by fiendish foes that explode upon death. It’s too easy to inadvertently tumble toward an enemy behind the one you meant to attack and find yourself in the center of a deadly mob. Yet, the action is largely satisfying and enjoyable. There’s a great sense of weight in every swing. Geralt might somersault toward his victim and slash him with a steel sword or use a flaming staff pilfered from a succubus to land slower, heavier blows. As you level up and spend skill points in four different skill paths (witcher training, swordsmanship, magic, alchemy), combat becomes more manageable, and you begin to feel more powerful. And yet, the action never becomes a cakewalk, and it always retains a sense of urgency.

And so death is inescapable, but The Witcher 2 allows you to properly prepare before trying to conquer the wilds. You aren’t stuck with the same weapons and armor, of course. You loot new ones or buy them from vendors, and these can be upgraded in various ways. You might also purchase equipment schematics and have a vendor craft items for you using the iron ore, timber, and other raw materials you stumble upon as you explore. You can also brew up potions and quaff them, though you can’t just down a health drink in the midst of battle. Instead, you must down potions while meditating. Meditation is a returning mechanic, though you no longer have to find a campfire as in the first game. Potions are toxic to Geralt; thus, the number you can drink is limited. It might take you a while to come to terms with this “prepare in advance” approach to potions. Brews act as statistic buffs rather than immediate cure-alls, and unless you know what monsters you might be coming up against, you don’t necessarily know which potions to take. When the story snatches you up into a series of battles and cutscenes, you may never be allowed to meditate and, thus, never reap the benefits potions may have granted.

It may also take some time getting used to the interface. It isn’t complex but there are some minor idiosyncrasies, some of which are rather sensible. You can’t hold a key to identify loot and items of interest as you can in most RPGs; instead, you activate Geralt’s medallion. It’s a neat way of taking a game-y function and making it seem more natural. Other interface quirks are less understandable. You can’t quickly identify and sell vendor trash, for example, and there is no easy way to compare the equipment a merchant has for sale with your current stuff. These are minor quibbles, however. Not so minor are the few quest bugs that can aggravate your travels. A quest marker and journal entry may refuse to update when completing an action, leaving you to wonder what to do next; choosing dialogue options in a particular order might lead to a similar circumstance. The only solution to these circumstances is to hope you accidentally stumble upon the next phase of the story or reload a previous game save. These are disappointing errors in a well-made game with an otherwise stellar presentation.

Combat is central to The Witcher 2, but it’s not the only way to pass the time. Dice poker returns and works much the same way as in the original. Proving your mettle with your fists is a more consistent way of earning some extra coin, however. You can trade blows with certain locals, though you may cringe when you first learn that doing so entails quick-time key presses–the kind associated more with console action games than computer RPGs. (Such quick-time events crop up in various boss fights and other scripted sequences as well.) Yet, the game hardly relies on them too much, and the close camera angles and barbaric punches give brawls some pizzazz. An arm-wrestling minigame is much less enjoyable, forcing you to keep a sluggish cursor within the proper boundaries. And, of course, certain characters (and the town’s task board) will have some odd jobs for you, many of which involve the game’s signature moral dilemmas. Who do you believe: a mythical seductress accused of murder or the elf jealous of her many lovers? When each accuser is equally unconvincing, you must carefully consider your path. And in this complicated world, just as in the real one, there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong choice–or a neat resolution.

Like many ambitious games, The Witcher 2 requires you to shoulder some minor burdens; in this case, it’s a finale without bite and some unfortunate bugs. Yet, you rarely sense that any given element suffered because more attention was given to another. This distinguished game makes an important statement: Visual beauty, challenging action, and game-changing decisions can coexist in a modern RPG. In one beauteous stroke, The Witcher 2 has raised the stakes. No longer need we accept that role-playing games must sacrifice the quality of one element in favor of another. Instead, we are allowed to have it all. And how wonderful that we have it right here, right now, in The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.