Just for the fun of it, experimenting with this blogging stuff, even though it’s unlikely that anyone will ever notice these particular posts, I’ll analyse The Witcher 3’s latest cinematic trailer in May 14th, A Night to Remember:
We begin with a nightly vista of the city of Novigrad, the greatest free city in the North, boasting some 30,000 inhabitants. The game’s interpretation of this location doesn’t quite match such size, but it is an impressive metropolis, nevertheless. The most notable landmark is the spire of the Church of the Eternal Flame, rising above the rooftops.
We witness an attractive lady singing a haunting tune, as our familiar witcher enters the scene. Turns out that the lady is not quite what she seems.
“Times past no amount of coin would convince a witcher to take this contract.”
Aand she’s gone. Curiously, even though here she demonstrates the ability to become insubstantial, she doesn’t attempt the same trick twice, and Geralt does not use the method he does in the game to attack an immaterial foe, namely an Yrden sign; unless the method he uses later in this trailer is another option for this type of thing.
Geralt sips down a potion before pursuing. Witchers use various alchemical concoctions to improve their senses, combat prowess or regenerative abilities. As it turns out, however, this potion’s function is more insidious.
A witcher’s eyes are well accustomed to darkness. Though potions can improve them even further, that is not the purpose of the particular potion that Geralt just chugged down.
Likewise, a witcher’s enchanted silver medallion reacts to supernatural beasts, vibrating violently in their vicinity. Some people believe that witchers are unable to use their magic abilities without this amulet, but it may or may not be simple superstition.
Potions are not the only application for the witchers’ alchemy. Bombs and traps of various kinds also play a vital role in their monster hunting.
This particular bomb spread glittery dust all over the barn, sticking to the beast and rendering her visible. It may also prevent her from becoming insubstantial again. It is most likely made of silver, which is harmful to most supernatural beings.
The Quen sign creates a protective bubble that briefly shields the witcher from an oncoming attack. It is no use in long term encounters, however.
It would appear that our beast is a vampire. Vampires in The Witcher’s world come in wide range of species. They are not undead humans, but creatures that came from another world during a cataclysm known as the Conjunction of the Spheres, and became trapped. This lady is evidently a High Vampire, as she demonstrates human intelligence and taunted Geralt earlier about how she used to be untouchable to witchers; High Vampires are extremely rare and dangerous beings, and not even many witchers dare to molest them.
Her exact species is ambiguous. The most common assumption for an attractive lady who turns into a ravenous beast would be a Bruxa, but they inhabit a low end of the High Vampire ladder and their description in Andzrej Sapkowski’s short story, “A Grain of Truth”, doesn’t quite match with this lady. She could perhaps be an Alp, Mula or even a Nosferat, but there simply isn’t enough information to go around.
Turns out that Geralt’s potion was Black Blood, which turns a witcher’s blood toxic to hemovores. Its use is always risky, since it requires one to be successfully attacked by the beast to work, but the results are highly effective.
The Aard sign blasts the enemy through the air, rendering them more vulnerable.
A witcher’s silver sword is his standard tool against supernatural beasts, and proves here effective as always, now that the creature is too weak to parry his blows.
A crossbow is not a part of a witcher’s traditional arsenal, but it is effective again foes that are otherwise hard to reach, such as when you happen to be too weak from bloodloss to actually run after them.
Witchers use trophy hooks to carry a proof of the kill to their employers. They are also known to decorate their chambers in their fortress of Kaer Moerhen with these trophies.
Unfortunately this creature takes a bit too human appearance to be useful (or safe) as a trophy. This is not the monster’s “true form”, and does not indicate former humanity, rather it is most likely its last, desperate defense mechanism, an attempt to garner sympathy from her would-be slayer.
Fortunately a witcher recovers quickly from his wounds. This scene is most likely a callback to the original short story, “The Witcher”, and the CGI trailer that CDProjekt Red based on it to market The Witcher 1, as he also fought and was gravely wounded by a female monster in that one, though the end result is radically different, here.
High Vampires are ridiculously difficult to kill off for good. Whether she is truly passed away, or simply fallen to an inert state is difficult to confirm. Even High Vampires that have been extensively dismembered have been known to come back from the grave decades later, resulting in the folklore mistaking them for undead. Whatever the case, she won’t be bothering anyone for a long time.
This scene is confusing, as the city in the picture is not Novigrad from the first screenshot, yet also appears to be far too great and rich in tall stone buildings to be Oxenfurt, the other major city in the game. It could be that this is just a generic cityscape crafted for the trailer, or it might be a new interpretation of Vizima, the capital of Temeria that was a major setpiece in The Witcher 1. Although the city of Vizima itself is off limits, its royal palace will be visited early in The Witcher 3. I don’t claim to know for certain which city this is, but those are the only urban locations to be seen in the third game, barring some very unexpected secrets.