The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an action and fantasy based RPG, with an extensive open world, developed by Polish video game company CD Projekt RED. Released on the 19th of May, 2015, on PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One, the highly anticipated Wild Hunt is the third and final game in the trilogy, following The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. The games are roughly based on a series of novels by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The novels, like the games, follow the story of a Witcher, Geralt of Rivia and his adventures throughout the Continent; however the game takes place after the series of novels conclusion. The novels themselves are definitely worth a look also. The Last Wish, Blood of Elves, Time of Contempt, and Baptism of Fire have all been translated to English and if you love the game or just love a good fantasy read, they come highly recommended.

Now on to the all-important gameplay, is it really as good as it’s been rated? Or have the critics lost their edge? The Witcher 3 in most aspects of gameplay far exceeds many of today’s current RPG’s and if you take a quick skim online you’ll see many of the critics and avid gamers agree The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt truly deserves its praise. Metacritic providing it 4.5/5, 9.3/10 and GameSpot 10/10, among many others it is definitely in line for a possible game of the year. Though it’s not without its flaws as any gamer would tell you, certain bugs are still being patched such as the Xbox save mechanism and levelling up system, but bugs would be expected in a game this huge and released on so many different consoles, but overall it is a drop in the ocean to the games experience.

Described as 20% larger than Skyrim, this open world adventure is truly phenomenal in the sheer amount of space it provides, travelling via horseback or boat is required to get to many places, though fast travel becomes available the more you explore. There are many quests throughout the world including main quests and side quests, each having multiple decisions and each decision having multiple outcomes and effects on the world. The game itself is quoted in having 35 different world end states and 3 major endings so that alone shows the gravity of the game. CD Projekt RED had an estimated minimum of 50 hours for the main quest line and 50 hours for the side quests. I personally spent 205 hours, but you’ll understand why when you play the game on full graphics. From the swaying of the trees to watching the sunsets and sunrises, diving in beautiful oceans or swimming in lush lakes, climbing icy glaciers and mountaintops, or even strolling through the bustling cities or sleepy towns seeing villagers just living their own lives, if you play it, it’s inevitable at some point you’ll find yourself lost in the sheer beauty of the landscape and continent they created. All accompanied by a perfect soundtrack often giving off a Nordic and Scandinavian feel which suits the game to a T.

But it’s not all strolls through the wilds of Velen or Skellige, or bustling through the city of Novigrad. In The Witcher 3, you’ll come across enemies, many of them - is that the gurgling of a drowner I hear? Yes you’ll fight monsters, too many to count, from arch-griffins and giants to nekkers and drowners (don’t underestimate them), and of course the occasional hostile human, dwarf or elf. The gameplay itself is similar to previous games where our gallant protagonist Geralt of Rivia wields his silver sword for monsters and steel swords for man and beast, and of course the Witcher Signs, which to those who don’t know yet is simple magic cast with a hand movement. We still retain the previous games signs - Igni (Fire), Quen (Shield), Yrden (Trap), Aard (Air), Axii (Hypnotize) - but they are fully upgradable and have slightly different abilities as they’re upgraded. Another aspect of the game, alchemy, remains similar to previous games, allowing Geralt to combine ingredients he finds into potions or oils that help and enhance abilities in battle; however we no longer have that annoying potion drinking animation. Crafting is a little different but similar to previous games, allowing the player to craft weapons and armor from manuscripts found throughout the game or bought with metals and other crafting materials collected, along with enabling runes to be added to weapons. A new aspect, in this game in particular, is in certain parts of the game to play as Ciri, Geralt’s ward, who comes with her own unique abilities.

Though CD Projekt RED have stated that the other games are not needed to pursue The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I would highly recommend a play through of the previous two games or at least reading some of the backstory to understand many of the references and make the most of this game. As a bonus CD Projekt RED has a deal on now for PC whereby you buy the The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and receive the other 2 games free. Check it out at GOG Galaxy, which is the platform the game runs off on PC.

Aside from the many amusing, exciting side quests and Witcher contracts, the main quest is a lead on from the previous game where Geralt of Rivia is seeking the sorceress Yennefer, of whom is was once romantically involved with but hasn’t seen in years since he was found half-dead on the doorstep of Kaer Morhen with amenisa in The Witcher, and whom he didn’t manage to find in The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. Instead he found Triss Merigold, another sorceress whom he became romantically involved. Both return in the The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, however. Geralt’s quest for Yennefer ends rather quickly and it is soon discovered that Geralt’s new quest is to find Ciri who has returned to their world. Ciri or Cirilla is Geralt’s previous ward and almost adopted daughter, and the Emperor of Nilfgaard’s actual daughter. She also just so happens to be a child of ‘the elder blood’ giving her amazing time and space travelling abilities, which she of course doesn’t quite know how to control. Geralt’s mission, should he chose to accept, is to find Ciri and save her from the reason she left in the first place, The Wild Hunt. A supposed legend that has heavily armored elves from another world riding across the Continent bringing a frost that destroys everything with it, all to get to Ciri and use her elder blood and powers for their own devices. Your choices in game decide the fate of the Continent and much more. Plus there are friendships and romances to solidify or break, or if that’s not to your tastes there’s always the brothel, growing a beard in game and the ability to get drunk.

Whatever adventure you’re seeking The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt you’ll most likely find it. The main quest and the side quests feel truly polished and the characters, returning and new, all seem to bring this amazing RPG to life. CD Projekt RED have stated that there will be more DLC to come over the next few months but The Witcher series is complete. Though it’s sad that this spectacular adventure has come to an end, we should be happy, because they could not have ended on a more positive note. What a journey.

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