The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

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  • Press a movement key twice quickly to roll that direction. Double "S" - roll backwards, is very useful in many of the early fights.
  • You can block (parry) with "E". It is hard to block fast opponents. It is easier to block slow opponents but they can still damage you (the block just reduces damage). Blocking uses Vigor (stamina) the same as Signs (spells) so if you have no Vigor you cannot block. Blocking is not that useful compared to dodging at the beginning.
  • You can lock onto a target by holding down Alt. There is no "cycle through potential targets" key.
  • You will get murdered if you leap into the middle of a group of guys, which is all too easy to do early on. Don't be afraid to do a strategic retreat: attack, roll away, attack - etc. If you are getting closed in then run away a bit. If you are in an enclosed area then it is hard to find space but just keep moving.
  • Left mouse button is a quick strike and right mouse button is a heavy blow. You should favor the quick hit early on, but a good way to take someone down quickly is to do a couple of quick hits followed by a heavy hit. Quick hits even work on armored guys: if you try to take someone down just using heavy hits then they will usually counter you. You can do a lot of damage if you attack someone from behind or the side, and the same applies when they attack you.
  • Signs are great, even at the start before you increase your skill in any of them. Aard can stun people but it is not that reliable at the start. Yrden places a trap on the group that can completely disable one foe - very useful if you have the space to use it. Igni does not do enough damage at the start. Quen should be your "default" Sign most of the time, since it protects you from being staggered when hit. Note that you do not regenerate health when Quen is active. Axii is good at the start of an encounter to mind control one person to be on your side. You have to power up Axii by holding the "Q" key down, so it is only useful before the fight starts, unless you can run a distance away.
  • Use your potions and bombs. They make a big difference and it is easy to make lots of them not too far into the game. You can also find or craft traps.
  • As the previous poster mentioned, don't hoard stuff. Collect things you think might be rare, but common stuff like iron ore, timber, cloth is all over. You can leave it where it is until you discover a need to collect it. You will find way more crafting/recipe items than you need so do not hang onto potions, bombs etc. You really are meant to use them - it's what Witchers do.
  • Geralt usually uses swords, but there are some good alternative weapons to be found. Don't be afraid to use these weapons, particularly early in the game.
  • There are stealth portions to the game. They are quite hard, but forgiving if you fail. Although hard, they are quite doable if you proceed with a lot of patience (not easy in a usually fast-paced game). You can extinguish torches. You can knock guys out if you approach directly from behind and right-click. You cannot stand against the wall and have a guard walk past you like in the movies - they will see you. You just have to wait until they have their back to you - even if they are some distance away - and then rush them. If two guards can see each other then don't even try to knock one out, wait until they split up and do not have LOS. If you watch guards from afar then you can easily see the best time to approach them from behind. You don't sneak right up to them, you get close-ish but not too close, wait for them to turn away (back directly facing you), and then rush them.
  • If you have a Witcher 1 save then it imports some Orens (gold) and items, plus it may have minor dialogue influences. The items imported are not that much better than what you start with by default, so do not expect having a Witcher 1 save to make the game easier. Any imported items start in your inventory - not equipped. You have to equip them.
  • There's no traditional tutorial. Do the flashback sequences in order because you'll be tossed into the furnace without being able to practice.
  • Combat is deadly as the developers openly stated their Demon's Souls influence. One-against-one Geralt is a beast but you're almost always fighting three or more guys. Enemies inflict +200% damage on your flank and certain hits stagger you which means you can be juggled to death in literally two seconds. In tight spaces cast quen (absorbs damage, prevents stagger) and use every bomb and area attack to not die horribly. In open areas use Geralt's speed to your advantage by running circles around enemies, laying traps, casting yrden (creates a paralyzing trap), cast igni or aard to whittle away opponents, and dodge roll behind people to stab them in the back. Understand there's a slight pause between certain actions so be patient and don't jump the gun or you'll die. Simple as that.
  • Axii is an underrated spell. Hold down the casting button over an enemy to temporarily mind control them. You have to pull it off from a good distance but in large groups it causes all enemies to target the hypnotized enemy which makes flanking them easy.
  • Before going out in the wilderness or a dungeon suck down some potions. You have to be in a relatively safe area to do this and they last about 5-10 minutes. Swallow is an important one because there are no conventional healing abilities.
  • Don't horde. I keep reading posts about people hitting the weight limit but this is ridiculous because there's no point in hauling a bunch of junk around. Sell weapons and armor you don't need, sell anything labeled "junk" in the menu screen, and sell off any common crafting equipment that you can find by looting a random house like cloth or timber. Brew some potions and bombs when you run low and sell off everything else that's terribly common like monster ingredients.
  • You have to keep your formulas to use them despite the fact they're added to the journal. It sucks that they weigh .1 pounds while books (which add an entry to your journal) somehow weigh 0 pounds so hopefully next week's announced patch fixes this oversight.
  • Pressing "Z" activates the wolf medallion which highlights objects. It also reveals magical auras and environmental hazards.
  • You can double click on a quest in the journal to mark it on the mini-map. Blue and green dots that show up on the mini-map are important NPCs while enemies show up as red dots if you use the wolf medallion to mark them.
  • The game is about delayed choices so you won't notice the effects of your actions until later. Be warned about the occasional quick-time-event (they're fortunately rare) and timed dialog choice.