The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an open world role playing game (RPG), which invites you once again to play the part of a Witcher, Geralt of Rivia. It's a vast and expansive adventure, set in a fascinating world that's varied, original, and memorable.
200 hours of gameplay that never gets repetitive
In the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Geralt is searching for his Cirilla - a young woman that he trained and loves like a daughter. Her special powers have attracted the attention of the Wild Hunt, a ghostly group whose appearance is considered an omen of misfortune and death.
The plot of The Witcher 3 supersedes those of the greatest RPGs of the last generation, Skyrim, Dragon Age and Bioware's Mass Effect series. It's a tale full of grey areas and amorality: there's no simple good and evil, only people surviving and trying to do the best they can in difficult circumstances. The story grabs you from the start and doesn't let you go, with every character, subplot, and detail making you think and reflect on the world you are in.
One of The Witcher 3's greatest assets is its open world. After five to seven hours in the tutorial area, you'll be free to explore two areas which together are bigger than the map of Skyrim. Roaming this world gives you the feeling that the developer, CD Projekt RED, has put effort filling every corner and tavern with its own rich history. The world feels alive. We have yet to find any recycled content during our travels with Geralt.
We can say the same about the quantity and quality of secondary missions in the game. None of them feel pointless or a grind to complete. All of them have memorable moments and are enjoyable to play. Whether you're doing something apparently minor like looking for a griffin, or hunting for an old lady's pot, it's all involving and great fun.
You feel involved in missions because almost all the decisions you take seem to have an effect on the world and the game. Sometimes there are immediate consequences, but other times you won't see the effects of your actions until hours later. Even better, your choices aren't simply 'good or bad' - they might have unintended consequences regardless of your intentions. Just like real life.
CD Projekt RED have promised there's 200 hours of gameplay in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. While we have yet to complete 100% of the game, it is a claim that's easy to believe.
Ready to Dance?
The combat system is wonderful. Witchers are super powerful humans, but they are not invincible. Their main advantage is their agility in a fight, and as such, combat is as much about the dance as it is about dealing blows to your opponent. Button mashing will get you nowhere, you have to get into the rhythm of fights to win.
Another Witcher ability is using potions. Geralt can create potions from ingredients you find in the game, and used intelligently they can be the difference between winning and losing a battle. Combining all of Geralt's abilities cleverly and preparing well to win a fight is hugely rewarding.
Controls are generally good, but simple exploration feels far more cumbersome than the nimble combat. Sometimes navigating Geralt through a village is much less graceful than it should be, which can be annoying. The interface is much improved over the previous games.
In terms of graphics, The Witcher 3 is excellent. The developers have given us a game which wonderfully represents the dirt that lies behind the beauty of this world. While you'll see some incredibly beautiful vistas, they all include details or imperfections that make the world feel much more real. Obviously, if you want to see the best the game has to offer, you'll want a PC with the recommended specs, but it looks impressive on less powerful machines too.
The voice acting and sound are great. Geralt sounds just right: apathetic, cynical, sarcastic, and lonely. The supporting cast also do a great job, with not a 'took an arrow in the knee' in sight.
The defining RPG of this generation... so far
Back in 2000, Baldur’s Gate 2 appeared and broke the mold for RPGs. That 2D game, with 200 hours of varied and original gameplay, also featured side missions that sometimes matched the epicness of the main campaign. It was wonderful stuff, and I feared we would never see anything like it again.
But The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has achieved just that, but with the gameplay, graphics, and sound that the current generation expects. The worst thing about this game is we may have to wait another fifteen years before we see another RPG so beautifully rich and realized.