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Dark mode difficulty + Achievement

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Showing 1-13 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 20, 2012 3:42:51 PM PDT
Mike Snyder says:
A lot of the time when I see an Achievement description for a certain difficulty, it includes wording such as "without changing the difficulty after starting the game." The 100-point Achievement for The Witcher 2 just says to finish the game while the difficulty is set to Dark mode.

It's probably too early for anybody to have tested this, but I'm wondering whether a complete Dark playthrough is implied, or if the Achievement description can be taken at face value -- just set the game to Dark mode before beating it.

I started on Dark and have left it there into Chapter 1 (in the forest town, beginning a few quests), but with the tutorial telling me I ought to be playing on Normal, I worry that it's going to get too tough to handle sooner or later. Anybody farther along on Dark difficulty enough to attest to how much the challenge ramps up?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 26, 2012 2:19:38 PM PDT
It can get very difficult as the game progresses. If you take the time to farm up the Dark mode specific gear, it will make it much easier. Just always be prepared and don't let your guard down, stuff can easily kill you in one or two hits.

The strategy guide has a pretty great Dark mode section that you may want to check out. It has some pretty good hints on how to get the gear and survive.

Posted on Apr 26, 2012 3:57:06 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 26, 2012 3:57:52 PM PDT
Mike Snyder says:
Thanks for the tips. I've been trying to avoid the guide book to avoid spoilers as much as I can, but I haven't been totally successful since I'm trying to maximize the number of achievements I'm able to get in a single playthrough too by "peeking" at what's involved.

I'm to what I think is pretty late in Chapter 1. The hardest thing about Dark difficulty seems to be how fragile Geralt is when it comes to dying from a single backstab or a coule of frontal attacks. So I've done lots of running and dodging. I've found that groups of enemies have a travel zone they won't cross, so I can just wait out of their "reach" to recover and strategize (cheap, yeah, but effective when all else fails). The Kayran battle took a little while to figure out, but less than the queen Endrigas (not sure why that felt so much more difficult). The bathhouse fight was problematic at first, until I figured out a strategy of AARD then grapeshot then dodge until he's still again, then repeat.

It's bound to stay challenging, but so far so good. Hopefully there's nothing ahead that's just impossible to get through. :)

Posted on Apr 30, 2012 10:27:37 AM PDT
Peragulator says:
Dark mode won't be on my list. I have about 5 hours into this game and I'm ready to fight the Kraken when someone asks that I find his friend in a haunted hospital. Enter the doorway after a brief battle outside drop down into a 15x15 stone room after the guy sets the cells on fire and have Wraiths appear that kill me after a couple of swipes. I have the special oil on the swords, vitality potion and I turned it down to easy. After 7 tries this game is a major disappointment going from challenging to impossible.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2012 3:10:26 PM PDT
ChokeCake says:
Don't forget to use Signs. Swordplay isn't always the best solution.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2012 6:53:01 PM PDT
J. Cammack says:
Peragulator, I think too many people think they can build a tank and march through this game. I have found that that is not the case with this game. Witcher 2 is an AMAZING game, but it requires a much more finesse oriented play style than a brute force style. Dodging and signs are really your best friend.
I too felt a little frustrated when I started playing The Witcher 2 because I am a tank type of player, but I have steadily learned that finesse is the name of the game.

Give it some time and learn to use every ability Geralt has. I am not going to lie Dark difficulty has me a little worried, but I am hoping my normal play through will give me the practice to handle Dark. Witcher is not a casual gamer's game, there is no button awesome to make for an easy time. Patience I am learning is key.

Posted on May 1, 2012 5:01:36 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 1, 2012 5:04:02 PM PDT
Mike Snyder says:
Well, I'm now a fair ways into the last chapter on Dark difficulty, and I have to say, it seems to be getting easier. There are still some tricky spots I have to attempt more than once and some unfair one or two-hit deaths, but on the whole Geralt is starting to be the bad A he's supposed to be.

Many of the fights are in open enough areas to let you move around (Vinson Traut in Chapter 2 being a notable exception). In the swordsmanship talent tree, there are a couple useful talents for this kind of stick-and-run play. One lets you extend the distance you move when you evade away with B, and the other decreases the damage penalty you get from being struck in the back.

There are also bonuses that increase your chance of doing an instant kill. They come in the form of talent upgrades, or attributes of weapons or armor. Sometimes I've beaten a tough battle just by trying it a few times and getting lucky enough that a 4% or 5% instant kill chance strikes home.

I haven't used the defense shield much. I find it takes to look to envoke in a battle, and gets knocked away almost instantly. It's probably better with upgrades, but I haven't tried it. Magic traps (Yrdren) can be useful against some of the larger monsters, and you can upgrade it in cool ways as well, but I tend to stick with mind control, fire, and force. If you have the room for it, hexing an enemy to fight on your side can help in the crucial first stages of a fight among multiple opponents. And the force knock-down helps once it's upgraded, because you can also get one-hit kills on a fallen foe.

Armor is important too. There's a spot in chapter 2 where you can keep killing harpies near a cabin on a hill (they'll respawn if you head up the path and come back - on the Roche path anyway). Their loot is worth a lot and isn't heavy to carry -- especially the feathers. This can help a lot, and it's not far back to the nearest dwarf in the camp to sell. Quick way to get lots of money for buying crafting diagrams, runes, or whatever. Be on the lookout to buy better swords and armor, or for diagrams or quests that will get you good stuff.

And save whenever you get a chance. I try to save every time I do anything significant, even if it's just travelling from place to place, just to avoid lost time if I'm ambushed and unprepared.

But beyond that, you just really have to get familiar with all the game's systems. How the sword and armor upgrades work and what they do, what talents fit you needs, how to use your magic effectively (getting talents that give you additional vigor slots is a BIG help, because magic is something you can't do without on Dark), and, just everything.

I could still hit on something big or impossible before the end, but I'm feeling pretty confident that I'm going to make it to the end on Dark. It definitely takes patience, and unless you're just an uber gamer, you're going to die a lot until you figure out good strategies and combinations of magic and sword attacks.

In reply to an earlier post on May 1, 2012 5:02:36 PM PDT
H.Le says:
Please let me know if anyone can beat the hidden boss from the side quest "From a Begone Era" in Act 3 on dark mode. I'd like to know what equipment and strategy you used. Thanks.

Posted on May 1, 2012 5:06:39 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 1, 2012 5:08:08 PM PDT
Mike Snyder says:
The Operator? Yes, I beat him. I was wearing the Oathbreaker set I got from a quest in Chapter 2, including the Virgin and Unicorn swords. I used force to stun him, and then just went to town. It took 2 or 3 times, but my random chance of instant kills might have kicked in at one point because he went down with a single hit after a few initial blows. If you let him call his gargoyles, though, it's almost impossible. Just keep force-hitting him so he can't. Helps if your force is leveled up and you have more than 1 vigor bar.

However, if you don't antagonize him or refuse to be the chosen one, there's no fight at all. No extra experience either, although what you get for killing him isn't a huge amount. And if you trick him, you basically get to re-assign all your talents in case you've had time to reanalyze your play style.

In reply to an earlier post on May 1, 2012 5:19:38 PM PDT
H.Le says:
Thanks for the tips. I play on hard but can only beat him on easy - once. And yes, the gargoyles are what usually kill me. The guide says that you can also prevent him from summoning the gargoyles by putting out the lights at the corners; however, there is no context to turn it off the light when I approach it - maybe I'll also try using the Aard sign next time.

Posted on May 2, 2012 8:52:29 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 2, 2012 9:14:45 PM PDT
Mike Snyder says:
I just beat the game on Dark, and the dragon fight was horribly difficult. If anybody is interested, here's how I beat her.


I was using Oathbreaker armor, but a silver sword that was more powerful than Unicorn.

Get as many good bombs and throwing daggers as possible, and have them equipped before climbing to the top of the tower.

Put a Falka's Blood enhancement on your silver sword for a little added damage.
Meditate and use potions that will help you survive. You're not going to deal magic damage, so no need for stuff like that.


The applicable abilities are the ability to dodge 200% distance (although I did it with only 150%), and upgraded defense shield magic (Quen). Also, more Vigor points help. I had 5 points of vigor, but most of the battle I was depleting and just hoping one more would come back.


At the beginning of the battle, cast magic shield. Then move to the left and get in close for some one or two heavy hits. Dodge out of the way as quickly as you can. Every time the dragon hits you, immediately start spamming Y (in case it's not charged) to get your Quen shield back up. Try to keep the camera centered on the dragon so you know how much distance you've got.

Use "A" to move in quick, and immediately follow with "X" for a heavier hit. Then "B" to roll away. The dragon will start moving around (probably counter-clockwise, but not necessarily). Get some distance, repeate the A, then X combo again (a second X if you can manage it) but always get the heck away with B as quickly as you can. About half the time this resulted in me getting hit, so I had to put my shield back up as quickly as possible.

When the dragon rears up at the edge and starts shooting flames, get in close and to the side, so that when her head comes down, you can get a couple of heavy X hits in. Then roll away.

When the dragon disappears, quickly pan the camara downward so you can see the wing. Run around the edge, staying just ahead of the dragon. She'll pop up 3 to 5 times, but you should be able to run or dodge away. Don't let her get to the opposite side though, because her tail will slash you. Just remember to re-do your shield with Y every time you take a hit, because it's going to vanish. You can dodge the tail if you're completely opposite her, but it's hard to judge.

When she flies off, there are two attacks. One, she'll swoop in. Just move toward the left side and forward, and she should pass over and to your right. Often, she'll repeat this, so make sure to orient the camera to prepare for it. Sometimes, she's just throwing flames from afar. Not much you can do there, but with the shield up, it's probably not going to hurt you much. Just prepare for the A, then X strategy as soon as she approaches to land.

Bombs and daggers seem to help, but very very little. I usually resorted to this if I was waiting for Vigor to regenerate without risking a period of time when I might take a hit and not be able to throw up another shield right away. If you have tons of bombs and daggers, it might be possible to do a fair amount of damage over time, from a safe distance. Just watch out for the "around the edge" crawling attacks and the swooping attacks when she flies off.

I actually did this twice in a row, and then failed on a two-button quick-time event that follows before finally get it right the third time. It's been a long time since I've come so close to rage-quitting -- because if you mess up the quick-time events after the fight, you have to do the fight again. The problem is that in prior QTE's, the button appears relative on the screen to the controller (ex: X is toward the left of the screen) ala God of War 3. Not true in this final battle. Both buttons appear at the bottom. I dont' know if it varies, but for me it was "A" then a few seconds later an "X" to finish the fight.

Good luck with the Dark mode dragon!!

Posted on May 2, 2012 7:31:22 PM PDT
Peragulator says:
J. Cammack,
You are correct about the "tank" reference. I'll use more of the powers Geralt has.

Posted on May 3, 2012 6:48:44 PM PDT
M. B. says:
As others have said, definitely use EVERY advantage you can. I would strongly recommend at least playing the game on Normal mode first, so you can be better acquainted with the combat -- improving on mixing up and using signs, weapons, talents, bombs, oils, dodging, traps, etc. It's also nice to have an idea of what is coming up -- assuming you make the same major decisions going from Normal > Dark. The key to Dark Mode is always being prepared for upcoming battles. Yes, you may die a few times but you learn from it and know what to expect and what sorts of things to change the next try. It may sound stupid, but always keep a save before the cut scene to a battle. It can be a major pain in the ass when you can't use a different potion or use alchemy to create something useful the second time around.

In terms of build, make sure to bump up Vitality on the Witcher path. When you unlock the other paths, putting 2 points into -Backstab damage, dodge, parry from all directions, and quen helped me out a lot. As well as always having a ton of Grapeshot and Zerr. Sun. Saving up for the Dark Mode sets also makes Dark play like normal mode, except for you being poor all the time. the first set may seem impossible to get at first and, most likely, you will have to sell almost everything and loot every possible thing in order to get enough money.. but once you've built that set, you are pretty decent and can complete the game on a better advantage. The only thing with the Dark Mode set is that you get a really crappy diluted color effect when you pull your weapons out, which really ruins the beauty of the game and the fantastic visuals/colors. If you don't want to deal with that, just craft the armor (boots, gauntlets, trousers, armor) and not the weapons so you don't get the effect and also won't suffer the -hp from the items being "cursed."

Hope this was helpful.
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Participants:  7
Total posts:  13
Initial post:  Apr 20, 2012
Latest post:  May 3, 2012

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