Disclosure ‐ The wonderful people from CD Projekt Red and Bandai-Namco provided us with a press copy of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt at our request, which we are truly thankful for!
That is right friends, the time has come for us to give our formal feedback on CD Projekt Red’s high-fantasy masterpiece The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. And it can be described as nothing short of that; A masterpiece.
In case you have been living under a rock for the past two years. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an open-world role-playing game from Polish developer’s CD Projekt Red. It is a sequel to the insanely popular The Witcher 2: Assassination of Kings (but don’t worry, you do not need to play 2, nor 1 to get an understanding of the story).
You are Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher, or Monster-Slayer for hire in the common tongue, and in the true spirit of open world RPGs, you are on a quest. That quest is long, epic and filled with so much gritty detail that it makes your own life pale in comparison. Everything from the main story-line, through the side quests, monster contracts and out the other side with “one-off” unique events (such as the liberating of an abandoned village from ghouls, bandits and wyverns) is so well written that you begin to forget that this reality is not your own. There are a few NPC’s who you find repeating the same phrase each time you encounter them, but asides from that everything in this world feels insanely unique and at the risk of sounding like a troubled teenager, exploring who they really are through parties and varying levels of intoxication, I just wanted to experience everything. However, the brilliance of this game does not come from it’s amazing story-line alone, no.
The world that you play through in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is astoundingly beautiful and well-fleshed out. The landscapes are sprawling, the towns quaint, humble and bustling with life, the forests are dense and actually feel like forests. Everyone has their own issues that need solving outside of the catalyst dilemma “the war” which surprisingly serves less of a role in the story as you would think. Perhaps a lady lent her frying pan to a stranger and wants you to get it back! Perhaps a strange old man who speaks only in the third person wants you to find his goat! Perhaps you need to race a young woman who clearly has a crush on the great Geralt of Rivia to the top of a mountain for whatever reason! The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has it all and does it beautifully.
One of the greatest aspects of the game’s brilliant story and writing is the quest design, which completely tosses away the cookie cutter ‘good’ and ‘bad’ decisions that have become oh so obvious in other modern RPGs. You never quite know where your choices will take you or who they will affect. Acting in good faith will not always be the best option as you intended, a stark reminder of the moral shades of grey that define The Witcher 3‘s story. Average ‘fetch’ quests are completely done away with and are replaced with actual stories that help bring the world to life, it’s so easy to become distracted and forget where you were headed as quest chains unfold and pull you in all directions. It’s been so long since such exceptional writing and design has graced a big modern RPG, it’s rich, overwhelming and most of all, refreshing. A lot of games offer ‘multiple endings’ these days but don’t actually properly deliver them. The Witcher 3 does, 36 endings to be precise, each of them vastly different.
The RPG elements of the game seem insanely daunting at first and are definitely something that could scare off a less veteran member of the RPG army. But your choices of where to put your talent points after each level are less punishing and less permanent than that of other games in the same vein. The two very different builds that I played through in my time with Geralt felt very similar, with a few distinct differences that did not really cause the game to differ a great deal in difficulty but simply called for a different play style. This could be seen as a fault in the eyes of many, who desired the change in character builds to result in a different Geralt, when in actuality they simply change what Geralt is best at. But at the end of the day, you are Geralt and he, as a character has his limitations. Changing “class” or “build” cannot cause too great of a change in Geralt, else they may as well have given you the opportunity to build your own character from the word “Go!”.