We have been enjoying The Witcher 3 for some time now and been building our thoughts on the game as we go. There were so many voices talking here on My Games Lounge before the game launched about its quality and, for want of a better term, the hype behind it. So Rossco and I, Subject Zero, have both been playing intensely on the game and decided to put our thoughts on this epic title together in this The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Review.
Both of us were stunned by the game, both visually and with the game’s content from the outset. While complaints were rife of the downgrading of visuals the game still looks beautiful and with an epic story and a vast amount of missions and things to do in the world, it’s simply a contender for one of the best games of this year and on the new consoles.
The Wild Hunt is the third game in the franchise and continues the story of Geralt of Rivia.
The story starts off with you searching for one of your loves Yennefer, a powerful witch; however when you manage too caught up with her you find that Geralt’s ward, Ciri has re-surfaced and is being hunted down by ‘The Wild Hunt’.
The Wild Hunt are a dark, mysterious group who are believed to be after the power that is in Ciri’s blood. Geralt is tasked with finding Ciri before The Wild Hunt does and encounters some serious enemies along the way.
The Witcher series has always been one geared towards the more mature gamer, there are a tonne of adult themed plots and sidequests throughout this game, and it’s defiantly not one for the younger gamer or someone who is easily offended.
The game tackles a lot of hard issues but does it in a very intelligent way, one story in particular featuring The Barron was something that I honestly had not encountered in any video game before especially in such detail and I believe the game handled it very well. Then there is the emotional attachments in the game, often games go very stereotypical when it comes to relationships and connections to other characters. Here in The Witcher, relationships feel more realistic where love, affection and sex are not all necessarily intertwined in a perfect way.
What we really love about The Witcher series is that everything has a story behind it. You are able to pick up Monster Hunter contracts, each have their own mini-plot to them, really adding depth to the game and really does make you want complete every quest since each of them are so unique. The story missions are a lot deeper of course but all the quests seem to take you to dark places where you never quite know what to expect. The most innocent of request can uncover some seriously dark storylines and it’s worth finding as many missions as you can.
Characters in The Witcher have always been excellent, Geralt, Triss, Dandelion, Yennefer just to name a few. Each of them again are so well written you really do get the feeling that all of them are individuals with their own character and not just carbon copy clones that you do get with a lot of RPGs.
Some characters you will love, others you will hate some are really disgusting individuals. But as you explore and find out more about how they ended up that way, maybe your initial judgments may change. Again, everything here reflects the real impact life can have on a person’s personality just like in the real world.
They all have been written to the highest standard and I would love to see any of these characters return in any more content coming our way in the future.
The Wild Hunt also brings back a lot of old faces; a lot of Sub’s favourites from the second did make a return such as Triss and Vess but the fact that this is the third in the series may well put some gamers off trying without playing the others. This is not the case, although don’t stop yourself playing the fantastic games in the series gone by, you can comfortably enjoy the Witcher 3’s story without playing the others.
Since Rossco was in this same predicament (and not too happy about it!) it’s pleasing that the game does well at explaining some of the past characters to the player in a natural and well written way. There is also a section early where you tell your story and choose what happened, a way of bringing in the major decisions from the previous game.
One negative thing I do have to say however is the love/sex scenes. There are quite a few sex scenes in this game, not as many as The Witcher 2 but still quite a few. They don’t seem as well done as in previous games, many of them seem forced and whereas in the previous Witcher the sex scene between Geraldt and Triss in the Waterpool was arguably the best I have seen in a video game, there is nothing that rivals it at all in this.
But in general the story is incredible and its richness is everywhere, not just in the main missions but in side quests and random events too. This world is dark and you can see how the events from the past games have taken their toll on this world, and it’s really has become an even tougher place to live where the lines of right and wrong are very blurred.
The Witcher series has always been strong in terms of its combat system, the level of detail is phenomenal and on the tougher difficulties, as Rossco Has been Finding Out, one wrong move and your dead it’s that simple. No fight in this game is to be taken lightly, everything can and will kill you if you are not sharp.
Gathering ingredients is essential for becoming stronger and enabling you to take on certain monsters that are only vulnerable to particular ‘Witcher Signs'(spells), Grenades and Oils. The first Monster Hunter quest does introduce new people to the series nicely and you soon get a feel for it.
Using the wrong attack against a certain creature can make the difference from being 38HP damage instead of 300HP if done effectively. In the harder game modes, mastering this is a must you need to get to grips with this system fast. It’s not as simple as Steel Sword for Human, Silver Sword for Monster, you really have to think about the enemy you are taking on, especially on Death March.
Now, here is where Rossco and I had a big debate, as one major issue for me is that the map and land is simply too big. They combined two areas into one which makes for one massive map. Rossco would say this is a great element to the game, the vast open nature of the game but several hours of my time playing this game was spent with me on the horse riding around the map. Rossco enjoyed this element of the game but it was not for me. Thankfully, for gamers who are less inclined to vast open areas there are some nice fast travel mechanics to help you get around.
Glitches and Bugs have been an issue for both of us in The Witcher 3 unfortunately. Both of us have died a handful of times due to game glitches, most of the time it’s due disappearing into the floor, getting stuck or a button not working. Patches have been added and this has improved since launch however but there are still one or two they need to work on.
For those who like player interaction in a game then this truly is the one for you. Your choices really do matter, some of which can have devastating consequences, such as unleashing evil over the world to losing a loved one. Some of these can be easily avoided from choosing one option or the other when the time is right, however you will encounter some missions where because you completed a certain side mission before a main quest, it has already affected the outcome in advance.
This really impressed me and offers an integration of side missions and main plot that is rarely seen in gaming.
Another thing to mention is Gwent. Gwent is a card game that is taken the Witcher world by storm with seemingly every (well not every but loads) NPC being challengeable in this game. Gwent is a RPG card game, were you build you army and take it in turns to lay out your troops and try to score more than your opponent. It requires a lot of strategy and really is like a game hidden within a game. Neither of us play card games particularly but this was so much fun, and unlocking cards is also a real challenge.
There is a big debate on this one, comparisons to gameplay from over a year ago have been made and CD Projekt RED have explained their case. Console versus PC has also raised its head with this one but, simply put, the game looks great. No matter what you play it on the graphics are excellent, they may not be as striking as the ones shown a while ago but detail and quality is everywhere.
Weather effects are a real highlight and NPC AI does react to what is going on around them with them seeking shelter during rain and storms or getting back out there and working once the good weather returns.
Voice acting is fantastic with all characters sounding perfect, with a mix of different dialects being used. It’s a bit like Fable but less comical with a much gritty and outright nasty tone used in most conversations.
Character models are great also, you do encounter some repeated models from time to time but it’s not that noticeable. The main cast and monsters all look fantastic too; the amount of detail that has gone into them is fantastic. Some of the monster designs are based on mythology and they really do capture them to the highest standard throughout the game.
The soundtrack is the typical RPG sounding epic, it fits with the game but does not have that one track that sets itself apart like the likes of Baldurs Gate, Fable or Dragon Age had before it. It’s not a bad soundtrack but it doesn’t exactly stand out as something special either.
The AI on the other hand, wow! The Elder Scrolls game series has been using a system for years where all NPCs have a daily routine programmed into their AI it was basic but at the time was ground-breaking.
What Witcher does is similar to this but on a much grander scale with literally hundreds of NPCs having lives of their own, all going to work in the fields then going down the local pub for drinks, the local bards will play at certain times and you really do feel time go by due to the what is happening and at what time.
One negative thing is the lighting effects on this game are not great; sometimes it’s too dark to navigate even at noon it’s way too dark to see where you are going at times. The day to night transitions also just seem out of place with it getting dark around 9ish and it’s bright out by 3am? You are supposed to be in the North of this world’s hemisphere so not sure why that is?
But this really doesn’t spoil much. It’s an incredible game to play and we simply can’t stop with it, it’s a good job there are so many missions since you will find it hard to put down and move on.
This game will eat up many hours of your life, we both have had several dedicated days to play this and put in over 80 hours on this game each with so much still to do. The main storyline will take you easily 40-50 hours to complete and, again, there is a ton of replay value to this title based on your choices.
Throw in the vast amounts of things to find, deep and thoughtful side missions and a card tournament which will most likely take you over a day of solid gaming to complete this is a true beast of a game.
Saying that though it’s a very easy game to walk in and out of, saving will allow you to start off exactly where you left off to the exact spot. An autosave system is in place which saves your last 3 checkpoints at a time, which is a massive help if anything happens to your save where you need to step back further.
Everything in the world of the Witcher is pure quality too, many games are full of missions and things to do but few have the balance between the volume and the quality. The Witcher 3 has both in abundance.
Witcher 3 is an incredible unique adult experience, in a massive and enthralling open world. The pace is not that of a fast, all out action RPG but a more methodical and thoughtful title that respects it’s RPG route. Talking to people, investigating areas for clues all have their part to play alongside the hunting, combat and fantastic story.
It is a brilliant action RPG that does have its technical flaws but we highly recommend this game to any RPG fans who want a challenge.
For me though I preferred the previous title but as an introduction to the series Rossco found it particularly well done (and Rossco does not like starting things part way though). Regardless of personal preference, The Witcher 3 is easily contender for Game of the Year and one we really are struggling to stop playing.
The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt Review Format: PS4