Note: At the beginning of the game you’ll be asked to (among other things) choose to simulate a Witcher 2 save. If you pick "off" the game will automatically choose a world-state for you based on the possible events of The Witcher 2. If you pick "off", you’ll be able to answer some questions later that will select these for you. The questions and their effects will be discussed later. You should only pick "off" if you have no interest in learning the back-story of The Witcher 2 and trust the game to make such decisions for you.
The game begins pleasantly enough; the sexy feet that frustrated Conan so much belong to Geralt of Rivia, who just so happens to be enjoying a warm bath… Until he gets molested by a crustacean, the machinations of his sorceress lover Yennefer. She proceeds to chastise him about training Ciri, the two get dressed, and a day in the life of a Witcher begins.
Or rather, the game’s tutorial begins. Your first task is to procure a key for the door, which you’ve rather wisely locked to keep prying eyes out. Aside from pointlessly extinguishing candles, examining various objects and getting some commentary from Geralt and Yennefer, there’s not much else to do. In the north-western corner of the room, on a book on a table near the door, you’ll find your wayward key. Of course, you’re supposed to be trying out your swanky new "Witcher Senses" [L2], so hold that button down to highlight interactable objects. Grab the key and open the door… and yes, the game even gives you a tutorial for opening doors. Turns out you have to face them and press [X]. Who knew?
Note: All directions will be given in relation to the mini-map. It’s a pretty nifty tool that’ll make everything easier. For ease of following these directions, consider going into Options/Display/HUD Configuration and setting the "Rotate Minimap" option to "Off".
Note: Objects of interest you can interact with will show up on your mini-map as red magnifying glasses, while you’re using your Witcher Senses.
Unlock the door and strut downstairs, Geralt-style. Once on the ground floor Geralt will note that the elder Witcher of the Kaer Morhen school, Vesemir, has failed at keeping an eye on Ciri. Instead of some dull book-work, Ciri decided to terrorize some training dummies while Vesemir caught forty winks. After some chatter with Vesemir, Geralt heads down to chastise the young aspiring Witcher. After chatting with Ciri for a bit, she’ll ask if you want to "run the walls", which is a handy, more in-depth tutorial covering basic mobility.
Running the Walls
If you choose to "run the walls", start out by heading west and climbing a ladder [X], then scale two platforms to the north [Circle] and climb onto a wall to the west. Drop off a ledge to the north, then another to the south before climbing down a ladder to the east. Head down some stairs to the south and climb down another ladder, then navigate some wooden walkways to the west, going down two more flights of stairs and another ladder. Once all this is done, your goal is to head east into a sunken courtyard to find Vesemir, who is waiting with Lambert and Eskel, two other resident Witchers. Vesemir will give Ciri the angry old man treatment before finally moving on to combat training. Accept the tutorial if you wish to learn more about combat (why wouldn’t you?) or pass.
Did you Know?: Kaer Morhen seems to have retained at least some of the same basic design from the first game. Very cool touch.
Choose to "start with the fundamentals" and Geralt will claim a sword for him to use. The game will briefly introduce you to the three basic tools of a Witcher-swords, signs, and alchemy. For now, we’re focusing on swords. Press [Left] on the D-pad to quick-draw your steel sword (useful for fighting humans, who tend to be clad in pesky armor). Silver swords [Right] will come into play later when we’re hunting monsters, who are vulnerable to silver-plated weaponry.
Once your sword is out, lock onto Vesemir by pressing down on the [R3] button, then perform a series of Fast Attacks [Square], followed by Strong Attacks [Triangle]. Next up, dodging [Circle]. Vesemir gives ample warning before he attacks, so you should have no trouble scoring two dodges that this task requires. Next you’ll need to roll out of the way twice [X], which is more of the same, except Vesemir’s attacks are even more obvious. What’s the difference? Dodges are shorter and faster, best for dodging quick enemies and retaliating. Rolls are good for dodging heavy, slower attacks. Parrying is the next order of business, simply hold down [L2] to parry all of Vesemir’s attacks. Finally, it’s time to practice ripostes. Hit [L2] as Vesemir attacks to block-and-counter him.
Now it’s time to move onto Signs. Press [L1] to to open the Quick Menu, from which you can select your Signs. The first up is the Quen Sign. Select it, then cast it by pressing [R2]. Quen blocks damage, and is eminently useful for mitigating damage. Cast it and let Vesemir hit you… to no effect. Then switch to the Igni sign, which projects a cone of fire at your foe, which is handy for harming or dispatching a group of weaker foes, or perhaps setting a stronger critter on fire. Next up is the Axii Sign, which Geralt can use to disorient foes. It’s also handy for gaining the upper hand in diplomacy. Last up is Yrden, which places a magical trap on the ground that slows enemies who enter.
Swords and Signs are done, which leaves only alchemy. First up are bombs. Press [L1] again and access the lower half of your radial, which contains equipped alchemical items (potions, bombs and oils). Once selected, chuck a bomb at Vesemir [R1], then head to the selected spot and toss some more bombs at some training dummies, this time holding down [R1] to free-aim.
You can now freely train with Vesemir, and it’s nice to have the gloves off. Practice dodging, countering, attacking… all that good stuff. The training ends when you sheath your sword. After an unsettling intrusion, so does the dream in which the tutorial occurred.