CD Projekt RED has taken great pains to ensure that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt impresses players from the moment they set foot in its exceptional world of magic, violence, and captivating storytelling.
The magnitude of that attraction only increases as you delve deeper into the third chapter of this dark fantasy series.
Between exploring forgotten tombs and accepting contracts on epic fantasy beings, ambushing bandit camps and holding off eldritch beings, swimming for lost treasures and helping in local affairs, you’ll still have to carve out enough time to just simply appreciate the beauty of the world CD Projekt RED has created.
Players once again fill the shoes of Geralt of Rivia, a freelance monster hunter with an extensive knowledge of alchemy, magic, mythical creatures, and swordsmanship.
With indistinguishable white hair, a scar over the left eye, and two deadly swords strapped to his back, you’ll often find being hailed by people around you.
Guards will taunt you, drunkards will diss you, and locals will fear you. The game makes it apparent that your kind is misunderstood and you’ll learn early on that trouble is always quick to find you because of it.
The consequential nature of each scenario will have you decide whether confrontation is avoidable or not. The excellent writing put in by the developer makes it so that there is always a different way to go about the game.
You’ll rarely find yourself following the same old beaten path, and monotonous interaction is not something The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt excels in. This goes beyond the usual decision making between good and evil found in role-playing games.
You do not necessarily get to choose to be a paragon throughout the game. Some quest lines will end bitterly either way, and your actions will just get to decide between the lesser of the two.
Elsewhere, your decisions might also decide the fate of characters; which can be surprising since you never really know for what end you are making your decisions for.
For the most part, the game’s primary storyline has Geralt searching for Ciri, his one time ward who is being pursed by spectral cloaked knights called the Wild Hunt. Players will end up traveling from town to town, village to village, performing services for locals in exchange for more information to Ciri’s whereabouts.
In all fairness, the prospect to such a setting might sound bland at first. That is until you come across the accentuating side-quests, which are so brilliant in their design that you might take them as part of the main story.
One, A Towerful of Mice, is a prime example of how a quest doesn’t necessarily have to feature loads of action and prominent characters to leave an everlasting mark on you.
As for the main storyline itself, you can expect some of them to leave you emotionally drained. The Bloody Baron’s quest line is probably one of the best quests I’ve come to experience in recent times.
It is tragic, and will leave you wallowing in despair. Not to mention that the voice acting is amazing and ever emotion is well forwarded to the audience.
The combat aspect of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been greatly improved compared to the previous installments where it was hammered for being clunky. However, that still leaves the combat mechanics wide open, and you’ll either grow to love it or hate it.
If you don’t want every fight to feel dry then it’s important that you’re playing on a higher difficulty level. Combat in the game is simply more than just brandishing your swords and sidestepping attacks.
The real fun comes when you’re mixing that with usage of Signs, magical glyphs that Geralt can call upon for different effects, and alchemy.
Chug those potions to increase your attack power and defensive stats, dodge ranged attacks to let your stamina regenerate, use that to call upon a sign to add a protective shield around you, throw out bombs to inflict enemies with pain and fire, parry their attacks, chug more potions for additional effects.
Your routine will depend on your knowledge of the enemy in front. That brings us to the game’s Bestiary, which keeps on cataloging enemy types throughout your adventure.
Books that you come across, information given by hunters and/or locals, each bit will help you understand the many variety of monsters featured in the game. It will tell you their weaknesses to either steel or silver, advise you on a suitable Sign, and label specific potions to be important.
CD Projekt RED touted the game’s crafting system as being very overwhelming, and that is very true. I did find myself ‘overwhelmed’ when I first opened the crafting page.
With no information to help me figure out from where to obtain specific resources for recipes, I ended up collecting everything I came across to help me later on in the game.
Fifty hours in, crafting any item or potion is a breeze, and my inventory is overflowing with ingredients. I realize now that the game has a serious problem of having just too many ingredients.
You’ll never see yourself utilizing all of that at any point. Armors and Weapons only require a small number of specific ingredients, and Potions have to be made only once since they can be replenished through meditation.
It is a bit disappointing since I had to kill many Drowners for their brains and now there’s little use for them, except for pawning them off at cheap prices to a merchant. Perhaps a better balance could have been achieved if the original recipes had demanded more ingredients.
A more prominent issue that players will face, which is more annoying than game breaking, is in the game’s zone and level balancing. You’ll frequently come across higher level monsters.
Too high for comfort, but nonetheless which can be taken down if you’re willing to spend time and patience. The reward for your effort, however, is going to leave you scratching your head.
As a quick example, at level 13 I took down a monster that out-scaled me by more than five levels. I just knew the loot from this corpse would be epic. However, I received a sword that was not only several levels beneath me, it was just plain terrible.
The weapon at the time which I was using, that was far better than the aforementioned one, was taken from a level 9 Drowner. Crafting new weapons will sometimes also feel unneeded, since you’ll regularly find better alternatives by looting corpses during your journey.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt does have its fair of issues, but most, like the drunken pathing of Roach, can be fixed with future patches. The game is a visual masterpiece even with its apparent downgrading – a fair bit of hypocrisy shown by CD Projekt RED that left a bad taste in my mouth.
Nonetheless, you only have to play the game to notice the the dedication and love CD Projekt RED has put into the game. For once you don’t find yourself searching for things to do in an open world role-playing game.
Instead you fill the shoes of the main character and start living his life.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an unforgettable experience. Future role-playing games are going to look back to the new curve set by the Polish developer and decide just how close to it they can mange themselves.