When Geralt of Rivia set forth on his first video game adventure back in 2007 few could have imagined his final adventure would be one of the most highly anticipated console titles of this year, but here we are with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. CD Projekt RED has managed to create one of the most captivating worlds through impressive design, outstanding visuals and an emotional narrative. While the story has some issues it has trouble detracting from what is a massive and outstanding journey.
The Witcher 3 is one of the most beautiful games you’ll come across. Climbing a hill and watching the sunset as it flashes is truly breathtaking, but the world is so much more than merely being good-looking. Things aren’t simply placed for set dressing, and have a story and purpose behind them. It does a masterful job of subtly presenting the player with the social and political situations, which leads to substance and understanding while exploring. The inhabitants of the world behave in certain ways for deep reasons you can understand making NPCs feel less random and more deliberate. For these reasons that while it is a fantasy world, it is one of the most realistic worlds you’ll inhabit in a game.
While exploring The Witcher 3 it is immediately evident how well designed it is. It features a wide array of landscapes from mountains to swamps. What may be most impressive is the design of the world’s cities. What developer CD Projekt RED has been able to do is create large cities with hundreds of buildings, while at the same time having them feel truly lived in. Buildings and landmarks have purpose and don’t feel like empty shells. Many buildings are able to be explored and don’t feel simply placed in the world to take up space. Walking through the streets of the largest city, Novigrad, you can’t help but get sucked into this world.
you can’t help but get sucked into the world
The amount of content in Wild Hunt is simply staggering. while wandering off the beaten track you’ll always find something interesting and unique with a story to tell. You may even find places so interesting you’ll be making up your own stories. The diversity of things to do is also impressive, from monster contracts to horse-races, searching for treasure to playing cards there is something for everyone and if your tired of something there are many other things to do.
As is expected with Witcher game the characters are incredible with many layers to each. They are deep with multiple motivations are desires. The deeper the player probes with dialogue the more they discover. Over time you’ll develop emotional connections to characters and there are some wonderful story telling moments that will leave you speechless.
If you haven’t played the series before there is little to fear in terms of the story. There are mentions to past character interactions and relationships its not necessary to understand what is happening. If need be the game offers a glossary with deep lore and information about characters and the world. This is Geralt of Rivia’s last video game adventure and while the story is satisfying the pacing is poor.The second half of the campaign isn’t as compelling as the first because of repetitive mission design. Most of these missions involve you doing a favor for someone else in order to get information. While these favors tend to weave interesting tales on their own, it leaves the main plot rather stagnant. Some of the best stories the game tells are side missions.
Some of the best stories the game tells are side missions.
Much of the main quest is story woven around Geralt and does not interact with the state of affairs of the world. Many side quests allow the player to dive into the middle of ongoing political intrigue and social calamity. It what motivated me to continue progressing through the world. Most decision in the world aren’t black. They are muddled greys of morality with each side having some sort of convoluted merit. No matter the choice the consequences will usually be seen, sometimes in surprising ways. It’s these narratives more than the main story that shine. It’s what the series does best in executing.
Combat in The Witcher 3 is good, but not overly impressive. Geralt fights with two swords and as the player levels up they can choose to invest in three areas of upgrades: combat, magic and alchemy. In this way you shape your fighting style to be your own, investing in abilities you like. Fighting consists of hacking and slashing enemies, while parrying and using magic to gain the upper hand. Alchemy can enhance your abilities before or during a fight. The combat is at its best when figting one large monster as these are extremely satisfying to takedown. Unfortunately movement in the game can be clunky and sometimes this affects combat. Clunky movement also plays a large role in interacting with the environment, as simple button prompts can sometimes be infuriating to execute but overall this ditracts from the game very little. Wild Hunt’s menu, crafting and alchemy systems can be a little daunting and complex at first but overall work well enough and do a good job.
While gameplay is an important part of the game it really isn’t the focus and its not what makes this game special. Getting lost in and exploring is where the game is at its best. It is also difficult to find an experience that has better more compelling characters. So I encourage you to jump in and lose yourself in The Witcher 3 because there has never been an open world game that feels quite as alive.
A code for The Witcher: Wild Hunt was distributed to us by Evolve PR for review; I played the game on PS4. It took me about 80 hours to complete.