Not sure why SoD is in the same category of Debut and VGX when it comes to atmosphere and tone. They're different to me.
Not that different to me, although there's a few scenes in it that feels different to me already, but in over all I think it leans more up against VGX/DEBUT.
Anyway the reason for the sharp distinction with DEBUT/VGX/SOD vs newer materiel is properly because the whole issue about downgrade and or change in color palette started with what was released after SOD IIRC.
I completely disagree, the shift in tone from debut to SOD, is way more noticeable than the shift between SOD and other newer material (which arent trailers anyway so we cant compare much)
Its the SOD version of the game the one that ended the grim and depressing atmosphere of the early footage, at least in specific scenes, because as seen in the 4K screenshot and swamps of the 35min vid TW3 can still totally achieve "dark and grittiness".
Debut is one thing, VGX another, and SOD another, VGX acting as a middle ground a bit more or less, but SOD and Debut look NOTHING alike, the difference is brutal. GDC and PAX look way way way closer to SOD on every level, graphics, color, atmosphere, technical features, you name it.
We are the ones that make this world what it is and the colors are nothing more than a backdrop for our story.
Imagine Stalker games with over-saturated colors and overdone bloom? It can't work.
My issue have always been "the feel" or atmosphere if you will have changed when I compare those three trailers against the newer material and not only the trailers but screenshots too. To me there simple was a "moodier", more mature, more realistic, deeper, denser, "dirtier", believable and so on atmosphere/feel in the earlier materiel compared to the new. As such I felt it captivated me more and by so I felt a deeper immersion. I don't have that feel nearly as much when I watch the newer stuff - I am sorry but I simply don't. And I have every trailer and screenshot on my computer and the "change"or feel in atmosphere hits me still today when I watch them all in a row.
That's a redundant comparison. The Witcher's world is vast, varied and there's nothing in some kind of "Witcher Rulebook" that every part of the world has to match the same colours and atmosphere of the locations in The Witcher 1, or be consistently dark/grey/gritty like STALKER.
The only thing The Witcher 2 failed at is meeting certain expectations that specific people placed upon it, because of their opinion about how the Witcher world should look/feel like.
For many of us it did a perfectly wonderful job at representing the locations chosen for each Act, both in regards to use of colours/artstyle/lighting and overall atmosphere.
In The Witcher 3 we are going to see 35 times more physical land than what we saw in TW2, and naturally that means ever more opportunity for the natural variety that a world, and yes, even The Witcher world, contains.
And i know more people who were not satisfied with over-saturated Witcher 2, then the people who were.
For me, I think the opposite. I feel like the more recent footage is more realistic and provides a more interesting backdrop to watch change. Who knows? Maybe due to your decision making and the dynamic quest structure you'll end up losing any pleasant weather and sink everything in snow or some greater extent of No Man's Land could become even more war torn and desolate, meaning everything looks even more grim and worthless. I think the contrasts and juxtapositions are important in a world like this and having the same dulled tone won't be as expressive or valuable as a method of storytelling if it is the entire 100 - 200 hour experience.
I think my major point is a grey world for 100h + hours would be a bit meh, especially since there are loads of other games going for the moody grey vibe for the entire experience. I think a varied world with a varied realistic palette is more interesting, especially with the dynamics of world influence the player has.
(also let us take a moment to reflect on the idea of disney making a witcher adaptation. WHO'S GOT DISNEYLAND COLOURS NOW?!)
The older material was just as varied, sunny and bright as the new material and it had plenty of colors too. The difference is that those colors weren't as saturated as those you find in the newer material. In other words they felt more realistic and atmospheric to many people.
Anecdotal. All of my friends who played the game were entirely satisfied, but that's not really a point.
As for your later comparison, nothing about the Sunset has "changed" (No not even between the 35minute video and PAX), it's just the extreme variety The Witcher 3 has in terms of different lighting, sunsets, colours etc. Just like The Witcher 1, or apparently STALKER (I must not have played STALKER enough, or with the right mods), have both sides of the extreme, it's quite possible The Witcher 3 also does and I think the 4K screenshot in that cloudy weather goes a long way to prove this "possibility" as being highly likely.
And I'm not even going to bother with the "Disney" stuff again.