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A Tricky Situation
The prologue starts off in medias res, with Geralt held inside the dungeons of strange castle and at the mercy of an interrogator.
Once the conversation starts, you'll start to recount the events leading up to your capture. Note that it appears that you can choose the order in which you tell the story. Going top to bottom will tell it in order, which I'll follow, but you have the option to move around as you wish. I strongly suggest that you
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The Smell of Napalm in the Morning
After a nice view of Triss, you'll get your wake up call. The siege is about ready to break, so it's time to get moving. You can talk to Triss at the start to get some more information. You should really ask about the assassin's body, since Triss has vital information about that. The dragon is just foreshadowing though.
There's not a lot to do in camp. I really just suggest that you take a chance to go through most of the tutorial. Old players should acquaint themselves with the changed controls and interface. New users should just follow the tips closely. Note that if any of the notes slip past too quickly, you can pull up the tutorial page in the journal to read them again.
Walk around for a bit in general to spot a few crates that you can loot and a few herbs you can harvest. As it suggests, you can use the “Z" key to highlight things which you can interact with. As far as the camp goes, you can talk to the mercenaries (The Crinfrid Reavers) to get a short quest. They'll ask you to evaluate Newboy's medallion. You can just make a judgment call of your own to say that it's trouble, that it's magic and fine or that it's magic and uncertain. From an objective point, it can be slightly better to tell him that it's cursed, since you'll be able to talk him into giving it to you (it actually is cursed though, but the armor damage isn't severe).
There's also a man you can arm wrestle with inside the training grounds, along with a soldier who will play dice poker. Once you're ready, you can just walk up to King Foltest by the catapults and trigger the cutscene.
You'll get a chance to fire the ballista after this. At the moment it doesn't seem possible to hit him (I've read 1.5 degrees will do it), but I keep getting 3 degrees regardless of how I aim. Feel free to correct me in the comments if I'm wrong. It doesn't really change anything though, you'll just have to kill the named leader once you breach the tower.
Once the shot misses, you'll move into the siege tower. Just follow the king up and listen to his speech. This section of the prologue will end when the tower door opens.
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Taking the Wall
This is a fairly straightforward introduction to the combat. Start out by charging into the brawl. For now, just pick off fighters on the edges with a few quick blows and help Foltest's men seize the first section of the wall. The area ahead will reach a stalemate, so Geralt will need to drop down and get creative with a ballista.
Walk toward the tower and look to the left at the bottom of the staircase. There should be some scaffolding that you can drop down on. Drop down with a mouse-click when the context is right, and then repeat it when you reach the end of the platform.
Combat is going to get a little tricky. Even on normal, it can be hard to handle groups alone. Look at your signs and start by setting a Quen shield around yourself. You do this by hitting "Ctrl" to bring up your list of signs, and then use "Q" to cast. You may want to take a Swallow potion too. You start out with four, and you should be able to get somewhere that you can meditate.This will do wonders to keep them from nickle and diming you down. Also remember to check your gear. You may have something better in your inventory that isn't equipped yet. Even the default loadout has a better steel sword waiting in the inventory.
Start in the back corner. The basic knights are no problem. Just try to hit them with a quick attack, and then follow it quickly with a strong one to finish them off. Don't let them get behind you, and roll away from blows. Parry won't work if you're surrounded (not yet anyway), so try to evade as much as possible.
Move toward the ballista, but do so by sticking to the right. There are two crossbowmen waiting behind the walls, so flank one and take him out quickly with a few slashes. Run or roll to the other and try to repeat it.
There's a well armored knight here, so fall back and keep some room available to retreat. Again, Quen helps a lot. You may have some luck with Aard too. Stick to hit-and-run tactics to pick off the weaker knights. The shield carriers and armored knights are easy by themselves.
For the well armored ones, just wait for them to start their strike, and then ready a parry. Parrying their blow will deflect most of the damage, and it will stagger them. Hit them with a quick attack immediately, then try to follow with a strong one for some solid damage. Rinse and repeat until they're dead. Note that this is a great time to quicksave, and wait for your health to regenerate.
The ballista here is a bit easier than the one above. Start by approaching it, and choose to ready it. Click the mouse repeatedly to beat the QTE and pull the string back. A few basic knights will spawn, so run out and attack them as you did before. Beat another QTE to aim the ballista, and then fight another wave of guards. One should be armored, so watch out. It should be the same as before though. Just pick off the support and parry the knight.
Run back and fire the crossbow to bring down the gate.
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Taking the Towers
Run forward and look for the ramp on the back wall. There are a few crossbowmen waiting, but you should have no trouble just charging them. Use Quen if you're taking too much damage. Once you make it to the tower, go inside and help kill the stragglers. Run up the steps to get the archers up top too, then drop back down to aid Foltest's push. Once again, you're with allies so this shouldn't be too hard. Just pick off stragglers and you'll be fine.
Wait for the soldiers to chop down the gate to the tower, and then charge inside with them. For this fight, I suggest you just avoid the big armored knight. Roll away from him and use your agility advantage to keep him at a distance. Pick off the rest of the basic soldiers, and then your allies will gang up on him and keep him staggered. He's easy to finish off then.
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After this, you should have a fairly standard push up to the next tower with Aryan. Once again, you'll be on your own for a bit. The soldiers are a little more spread out though. Use Aard to dominate them in single combat, and push your way up to the top. Just approach the rebel to trigger a conversation.
He seems to want a fight, but you don't have to indulge him. The easiest way to handle this is to ask him to surrender, and then ask for a duel to spare his men. You can also convince him to surrender if you don't wish to fight. It's up to you though. Note that if you want a fight, try the duel. He tries to keep it somewhat fair otherwise, but his men seem to want to jump in unless you explicitly make it a duel.
In order to defeat him in the duel, just watch for his attacks. He's very strong and his shield will be able to block most of your attack. But, you can parry his standard heavy hit to stagger him. You'll then be able to hit him with a few quick hits or a quick hit and a strong hit. Don't back off too far, since you can't parry the charge attack he'll do if you give him room. If he charges at you, roll away or use Aard to knock him back.
The easiest way though, appears to involve using Aard a few times. If he's staggered, he'll hold up his shield and crouch. You can, if you're quick, run behind him and hit him with a steady attack. This has the potential to knock him completely down, and let you score several free hits while he gets back up. Use this if you're having difficulties.
The soldiers will surrender if you win the duel, and this section will come to a close.pinupwow
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All screenshots from The Witcher 2
All gameplay information based on a "normal" difficulty playthrough. Given the Witcher's divergent paths, it is likely that I have missed an option. Please feel free to point out any ommisions in the comments.