Well, well, well. Last night CD Projekt said they’re working on a new Witcher game. All we’ve got to go on is a cryptic image of a lynx-like Witcher medallion sitting in a bed of snow. Some of us from the Treehouse ran through what we’d like to see from The Witcher 4, including some truly insightful quotes about leg muscles from myself. One thing I failed to mention, though, was Roach, Geralt’s horse.
I’m sure Roach has a great personality, I’m sure he’s very kind. But from a purely professional standpoint, I can’t stand him. He’s hardly smooth in the stirrups, nor can he really climb anything substantial. That’s why I’d like Roach swapped out for Elden Ring‘s Torrent, a horse-goat that corners like Colin McCrae and double jumps like Super Mario. The Witcher 4 deserves a super horse like Torrent.
I’m excited for The Witcher 4, whatever form it might take. I’m hoping that it retains quests where you talk to nice trees and help them out, but the it turns out that in fact they were nasty trees, and you’ve killed an entire village by watering the trees that one time. Aside from that, I bet it’ll have a mount. Perhaps the return of Roach from The Witcher 3 – or at least, a spiritual successor. Thing is, I’m already preparing for disappointment.
Now that Elden Ring’s out, though, The Witcher 4 devs – or devs on any other game featuring horses – have their work cut out. Elden Ring’s Torrent is a joy to call upon, as all it takes is a quick whistle and you’re immediately on board his saddle; no waiting for him to magically appear by your side. This avoids situations where you’re in a hurry, and you’ve whistled and you’re like “Where’s my ride?”, and you turn to find your horse trotting into a tree.
Then you’ve got Torrent’s majestic handling in all manner of situations. I mean, he’s built for fights, where sharp corners and near-misses are commonplace. You can literally punch a dragon in the nose while on his back, then hop over some fireballs while backstepping. He’s a Land Rover made for off-road trails in misty woods and scorched sands. Perhaps not a show horse with a sheen and defined muscles, but sturdy and all-purpose. Pan to Roach and he looks great pounding the dirt, but try anything other than a slow arc at 60mph and he’s going to struggle. In many ways, riding Roach doesn’t feel dissimilar to being in a chariot. One that’s being pulled by a ghostly team of horses and a bloke who’s asleep at the wheel.
Easily Torrent’s greatest assets are his magical hooves. There’s no science behind it, no reasoning for Torrent’s spectralness or Mario-like talents. He’s just a spectral horse who does spectral things. And one of them is the ability to hop once in mid-air to cushion a landing or reach higher places. It’s genius! It transforms him from a taxi service to a companion that’s necessary in many platforming sections or large-scale battles.
You might be thinking, “Torrent doesn’t have any personality.” Nor does Roach, really, right? Roach means something to me because he means something to Geralt. Geralt says stuff like “Come on Roach,” or “Not so fast Roach,” to display a bit of a connection. Otherwise, that’s your lot. Maybe in the books Roach has lots of lines and presence; perhaps he’s got a family and a dark backstory. But in-game he gets on my nerves. Turn to Torrent and he may be quiet, but there’s a personal connection there. We’ve been through thick and thin! We’ve hopped through Caelid together and nutmegged giants. So much exploration and discovery lies in my relationship with Torrent and his ability to cross those bridges or outmanoeuvre those threats.
I suppose if The Witcher 4 doesn’t have a horse with a double jump it’s okay. But hey, it’s going to be hard for me to adjust if we’re landed with an absolute ‘mare. Perhaps the only way I won’t judge the exclusion of a double-jumping horse would be the inclusion of a dash. Give The Witcher 4’s Roach equivalent a dash – from Celeste or Hollow Knight, I’m not picky – and then we’re talking. I just feel that without better handling, any other mount or horsey companion won’t cut it for me anymore. Cheers Elden Ring. You’ve ruined horses for me.