Playing the Witcher 2 on Linux

Written 9/20/2020

I recently hit a "first": I played an actual game. I mean, in college I think I made it through the campaign of a Halo game or two with my roommates on their XBox and I think I got a couple games on CDs as a kid for Chrismas, but I've never been someone who I think can be fairly called a gamer.

I've also only owned computers running Linux for the past few years, which is supposedly not helpful for becoming a gamer. I ended up downloading Steam for Linux to do some co-play with a friend of mine on a game that we'd both played as kids, and found that it had the "SteamOS" marking, which indicated that it should run fairly seamlessly on Linux. My current distro is Pop!_OS, by System76, and at the moment, I don't think it's one that I'm planning on switching away from in the near future.

But after pulling up the Steam client one day, I a little notification on my screen that one of the deals available was CD Projekt Red's Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings, for something like $4.00, available for play on Linux. As a result, it's the first actual game that I've played through in a really long time, and definitely the first one like this I've played through a PC. The fact that is was on Linux was pretty cool, since I suppose I'd always considered gaming to be the domain of Windows machines alone.

My set-up isn't anything special in this case: I've got an 8-thread processor with a 4GB NVIDIA card on it, on an entry-level gaming laptop I bought about 4 years ago to do CAD work during my undergrad. I was able to upgrade the RAM this past year up to 16GB, and put a SSD into it, as I've been using it for some machine learning development on the side. At no point did I ever expect to be running a game on it, but to be honest, it's worked pretty great! The game itself did experience a few "unexpected crashes" (I'm not exactly sure why), but most of the most of them happened at times that weren't too terribly inconvenient, and saving somewhat often had those advantages. Maybe it's just because I don't know any better, but everything else seemed to run smoothly--very little stuttering during cutscenes, smooth gameplay, audio that sounded as expected. It's almost like it was supposed to work (which, granted, I think it may have, since apparently CD Projekt Red put in a bunch of time into creating an actual Linux port, for which I'm grateful).

As a result, this was really my first experience with gaming, with gaming on Linux, and with basically this entire concept. It's certainly interested, and since I've got more time on my hands than before with quarantine still functionally ongoing, I'm excited to dig into the whole concept a little bit more. I've read the Witcher books, and got a kick out of the Netflix series, so being able to play through at least one of the games as well has been a lot of fun. In any case, I just downloaded Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, so I guess we'll see if that manages to work on Steam as well. Also, if you're running Linux and looking for a fun (at least, in my humble opinion) game to play, take a look a downloading the Witcher 2, and see if that fits the bill![^1]