The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been eagerly awaited by fans for some time now, and the game certainly has a high bar set for itself after the hugely-popular The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. Given the widespread acclaim that game received, CD Projekt RED had its work cut out with the sequel – few people would be surprised if they simply couldn’t match that game’s exceptional quality and depth.
However, since the first details were revealed, The Witcher 3 has looked pretty special, and, with the developers stating that this concludes protagonist Geralt’s story, the series deserves to go out on a high. So, how does it hold up? Should fans of the previous two games be worried, or are they in for the series’ best adventure yet?
Behold the Witching Hour(s)
Massive, sprawling video games are nothing new in today’s world – titles like Skyrim, Red Dead Redemption, and Grand Theft Auto 5 offer players impressive, immersive environments to have fun in – but The Witcher 3 takes this to another level. With the developers claiming the world is thirty times bigger than it was in the first two games (and even twenty percent bigger than the mighty Skyrim), players can spend countless hours wandering Geralt’s Northern Realms. With a deep, exciting main storyline and an overwhelming number of side-quests, players will likely know the drill – this being an RPG, you wan wander at your leisure, picking and choosing which tasks you become involved with, or you can focus on following the plot through from beginning to end.
With Geralt now free to do as he pleases (following the events of the previous game), he becomes tasked with finding the daughter of Nilfgaard’s emperor – a woman who turns out to mean something to him on a personal level. To make matters worse, a mysterious dark force known as the Wild Hunt is after her too. Soon enough, the story expands and evolves, widening its scope until the entire world is at stake – typical RPG fare, then. However, the story is impressively told, with many rich characters (some new, some familiar) interacting with Geralt along the way: towns and villages (of which there are many) are populated with a wide variety of NPCs, with a huge range of character-models – it’s rare you’ll find groups of identical figures wandering around, which helps to boost the immersion players will feel as they make their way through The Witcher 3’s world. Dialogue is nicely-crafted, with in-conversation options designed to help newcomers to the series get to grips with the world’s history (if needed).
With characters more convincing than in some other RPGs, you feel more compelled to help rid their towns of rampaging monsters – which is likely to keep many players away from the main quest for some time!
Beards, Blades, and Bad-Assery
With Geralt’s immense training and enhanced abilities, combat should be fun – and it is! Thankfully, it’s also pretty simple: armed with swords, five magical abilities (or ‘Signs’), crossbows, and even bombs, Geralt is a one-man army, but he never feels difficult to control. When fighting monsters (which all look incredible), you need to slash, use your signs, evade – all in the right rhythm, of course. Over time, you’ll learn how best to use all of your skills, and which tactics work best against specific monsters – with so many deadly creatures on the loose in the Northern Kingdoms, players will have plenty of opportunities to practice.
The Witcher 3 has some stunning visuals, with richly-textured landscapes and highly-detailed characters deepening the player’s immersion – depending on the power of your graphics card, however, you may find your frame-rate drops at times. Tweaking certain graphical features – such as HairWorks and Foliage Visibility Range, which both do exactly what they say on the tin – will help to smooth things out, though there are no major issues with the game’s performance. Sunsets and sunrises look especially beautiful, with incredible lighting effects, while Geralt’s beard growth (similar to Batman’s steadily-forming five o’clock shadow in the Arkham series) is a small wonder to behold.
So, can fans of the first two games expect to love this as much? Definitely – with plenty to see and do, rich characters, a gripping storyline, and exciting combat, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt rounds the