The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
Available for: Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC
Throughout the last decade the western RPG has witnessed a surge in both popularity and critical acclaim. Titles such as Fallout and The Elder Scrolls series have, as of late, held the throne seemingly unchallenged. However, deep in the shadows CD Projekt Red has been silently and systematically gaining recognition with The Witcher series. As their most ambitious title to date, The Witcher 3 is finally ready to rule the Western RPG space with an iron fist and dethrone the former juggernauts.
As CD Projekt Red’s first fore into the mainstream market, The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is a game so massive, deep and complex that it will take you well over 200 hours to sift through the seemingly endless amount of content. The Witcher 3 does a fantastic job at being accessible to players new to the series while equally catering to the level of challenge series veterans are hungry for. CD Projekt Red knows exactly what they are trying to accomplish here, and they do so with such finesse and expertise that it’s easy to lose hours just running through the countryside taking in all the beautiful scenery and interesting characters that litter the landscapes of Temeria. Upon starting up the game, the player is presenting with a series of flashbacks that serve as the games prologue/tutorial. It is highly recommend that you complete the tutorial rather than skip past it as The Witcher 3 has a gameplay system that relies heavily on micromanagement and as any good Witcher knows in order to execute these actions properly you will need some training. The Witcher 3 boasts an excellent combat system that seamlessly moves between swordplay and signs (magic) at the flick of a button.
The majority of The Witcher 3’s main quest line revolves around Geralt tracking down his long lost surrogate daughter Ciri. While the narrative structure may seem basic, when compared to most RPG storylines, it merely serves as a catalyst for the player to ride out into the world of Temeria and take in all it has to offer. The majority of the games main quests involve talking to person “x” and helping them with a favor “y” which consequently rewards you with withheld information furthering the games storyline. Thankfully the games excellent dialogue and voice acting make each of these quests feel unique enough to not feel repetitive or tiresome. I found myself significantly more immersed in the game when I took the path less travelled and sought out side quests or made my own story. At no point did I feel like the game was holding my hand and forcing me down a certain path – seemingly unimportant choices could have drastic effects later down the line, which resulting in my constant returning to early game locations to see just how my actions had affected the world. Bulletin boards are scattered throughout each of the small villages that litter the war torn Kingdom of Temeria; these serve as hubs for the majority of your side quests. On the boards, players will find quests called “Witcher Contracts”. These quests primarily consist of the player being tasked with killing a monster that has been tormenting the games villagers. These contracts require the player to channel their inner sleuth as they interrogate the villagers and investigate the scene of the crime. Once you feel you have acquired adequate information you set off and hunt the beast putting all of your skills to the test. This requires the player to target the enemies’ weaknesses, and use all of the skills at their disposal to bring these hulking beasts to their knees. If you begin to find these fetch and kill quests tiresome, you can try your luck at a game revered by the locals called “Gwent”. Gwent is a strategic card game that requires you to build a custom deck and battle against the locals to prove your worth. Gwent is certainly no phoned in mini-game. CD Projekt Red has clearly put a ton of effort into balancing Gwent, which, had it not have been bundled with The Witcher 3, could easily warrant its own arcade title release. I found myself losing countless hours in my attempt to build the perfect deck to be the best player in all of Temeria.
While the game is beautiful to look at it does seem to have difficulty maintaining its 30 frames per second. Constant pop-ins or missing textures are just some of the bugs that plague the game. While this isn’t an anomaly in the broader spectrum of open-world RPG’s, it is a hindrance to be teleported into a room you can’t leave or, at worst case, have a save file corrupted and have to start the game from the beginning. CD Projekt Red seems to have built a solid relationship with their community, as such, and I trust they will fix all these issues in the coming weeks.
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is a complex and difficult game that needs to be experienced to fully understand just how massive it is. Though the main quest does tend to lose momentum by forcing the player to undergo menial tasks – such as rescuing goats – it definitely delivers some emotional and thought-provoking payoffs that seem to be lacking in the majority of Western RPGs. Side quests push all the right buttons and the card game Gwent serves as more than just a simple distraction. To put it bluntly, The Witcher 3 is an engrossing, epic tale that will have you glued to the television for hours.
+ Massive Open World to explore
+ Tight and responsive combat system
+ Top notch dialog and voice acting
+ Deep and engaging RPG mechanics.
– Main Story is slightly unfulfilling.
– Technical issues (such as pop-ins, glitches etc.)
95 – Graphics
93 – Gameplay
95 – Sound design
90 – Controls