Let’s get this out of the way. If role playing games are your genre, then The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a must have purchase. Even if you are after a good third person action game with a great story, this is a game you must own. It is one of the most impressive role playing games in the last few years, easily surpassing the earlier sequels and on a par, if not better in some respects, to the juggernaut that is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt easily trumps Dragon Age: Inquisition and that was a really good game. I’m over 120 hours in, have completed the main story twice from a certain save point, and I am still playing this game with heaps more to do. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of those rare games that actually does keep you wanting to play more past the main storyline, albeit after taking a small break for a few days before delving back into the game again.
So what makes this game so good? It seems loving detail has been crafted with every single quest in the game, including hundreds of side quests. There is a constant cinematic quality to every quest you find yourself involved with. I can’t imagine the amount of voice over work that must have been recorded for this game, it is just amazing. Appropriate camera angles and cinematic presentation are present in every single quest and conversation you have within the game. No static screens where you have to pan the camera angle yourself, like earlier RPGs, including Dragon Age: Inquisition.
The story is excellent too and you can also follow on from choices you’ve made with previous Witcher games. For PC users you can import your previous saves, which is great. Console users don’t get left out though: after you finish the prologue and start the main game proper, you’ll arrive at a situation where you have to answer a series of questions that allow you to pick the choices you’ve made in the two previous games. It is a nice touch and does seem to have some bearing on the story Without reverting to spoilers the basic premise of The Witcher 3 is Geralt (the lead character – a witcher, who effectively is a monster slayer) is looking for his adoptive daughter, whom he trained when she was just a child. Ciri is being pursued by The Wild Hunt, a band of wraith like warriors that bring about a freezing cold snap any time they ride through. It is up to Geralt to find Ciri and help her.
What’s important to note with The Witcher 3 is that even though Geralt is the main protagonist as far as player control, this game is predominately about Ciri. Ciri is an amazing character, like pretty much every single character in the game, and her story is an important one. The voice over work is amazing with the motion capture the game’s engine manages to convey. This is really what current generation consoles are all about: it is one of the best looking games to date.
The graphics are incredibly detailed and loading times for most part are minimal. It has copped some criticism that it isn’t really classed as an open world game but realistically you only have to load between five areas in the main game. Three of these five areas are absolutely huge and honestly you’ll be spending a lot of time roaming around in them. Perhaps you can’t walk from one end of the world to the other like Skyrim, but it is a hell of a lot better than Dragon Age: Inquisition’s constant loading between areas. Besides the graphics are just so impressive, with the shadows and lighting particularly amazing (dynamic weather and day/night cycle is present). Seeing the trees bending in the wind from a raging storm is simply amazing and the amount of detail put into the game makes you feel quite claustrophobic at times. When a storm ravages at night, you’ll want to find the nearest inn and meditate until morning. You can ride a horse to get around faster, use fast travel points that you’ve unlocked and even take little sailing boats out across water. One of the massive areas you come across has you hopping all over different islands via boat and horse. It is just excellent with no loading times within the five big areas.
For Witcher veterans the combat and skill tree system have been tweaked. If this is your first Witcher game you’ll have some handy in game tutorials to help you along but the user interface may be a little daunting at first. It won’t take you long to master it though so I would recommend giving it some time. The combat is excellent and very involved. It is wise to explore the world and find my books on various creatures, which unlocks their weaknesses via an in-game Bestiary wiki of sorts. Probably worth noting the monsters do not scale at all to your level. Anyone who remembers the earlier Gothic games on PC will know what I am talking about. In The Witcher 3 you can quite easily run into a monster that is simply way too tough to beat. Running away is definitely an option with some of these bigger monsters earlier in the game. I actually love this – it means when you level up a bit you can go back and really feel a sense of progression as you can finally defeat that once difficult monster.
If I had one gripe after 120+ hours of play, it is that currently there is no additional storage areas for you once you have maxed out the saddle bags on your horse. There are so many armour sets to find materials for and make that my inventory is almost full and with the 1.05 version of Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt this makes it difficult to be able to get more gear.
Applause then, should also be given to the developers, as they have obviously listened to their fans. There will be a patch released soon (1.07 patch) which will have organised storage spaces that will enable players to store their excess goods. For those of you who are already playing, perhaps hold off on selling all that stuff to make room in your inventory. On top of this CD Projekt RED has released at least ten pieces of free DLC that you can download, ranging from additional quests to alternative looks for your favourite characters. There is more free DLC coming as well plus two big paid expansions that you can buy a season pass for. One of these expansions is 10+ hours long while the other is 20+ hours long.
Really there isn’t much more to say. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a must have single player role playing experience. Even if you haven’t played the first two read some wikis to get a bit of back-story and buy this anyway. Games made of this quality don’t come round very often and I still think this is a very strong contender for Game of the Year for me.
Reviewed on the Xbox One. Also available on PC and PlayStation 4. All screenshots taken from the Xbox One version.