Video Game Review: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Game of the Year Edition

Details: Originally released in 2015. Purchased through http://www.gog.com and their game client. Purchased for about $25. Played on the PC. The Game of the Year Edition comes with all subsequently released downloadable content, including the two expansions, Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine. Spent about a hundred and ten hours in the base game, around thirty hours in the Hearts of Stone expansion, and about forty hours in the Blood and Wine expansion. Total time spent in the game: about one hundred and eighty hours.

No spoilers, as usual. 

Now that I’ve played this game, I can understand why this game is so beloved. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt does not reinvent the wheel. It does not push some new kind of game. It is an open world, action role-playing game in a time with many, many similar games like Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Assassin’s Creed, The Legend of Zelda, and the Batman Arkham series. What Witcher 3 does do is that it pushes the genre of open world games forward, improving on almost every aspect of the genre and producing a game that can be considered essential if you are a video game lover.

First and foremost, we need to talk about bugs. As with every open world game I’ve ever played, there were bugs here. Minor bugs are annoying. Major bugs froze and crashed the game a couple of times. Overall though, it did not hurt my enjoyment of the game. I have the benefit of playing the game years after its release, when most major bugs have been patched or solutions can be found with a quick internet search. Although it has been years since the game was released, I think that the best time to play Witcher 3 is right now, after all the major bugs have been hashed out and problems solved.

The story of the Witcher 3 is great. The Witcher video games are direct sequels to a series of fantasy novels about Geralt of Rivia, a witcher. Witchers are essentially monster exterminators and are kind of treated like plumbers or sanitation people in that they are looked down upon, even though their services are essential. As a witcher, Geralt is an extremely well-trained warrior and often finds himself involved in matters of war and political intrigue in addition to monster hunting.

The world of the Witcher 3 is a fantasy world, like Game of Thrones or The Lord of the Rings. There’s a lot of lore in this game and a lot of references are made to the books. With that said, you don’t need to read the books to enjoy this game. However, if you have read the books, you will enjoy this game more. Personally, I went online and read plot synopsis of the books and enjoyed references and character appearances from the books throughout the video game.

Worth mentioning is that this is a very adult game with adult themes and violence. There’s also lots of nudity. No genitalia, just breasts and ass, most of it female.

The narrative decisions you make in this game are more meaningful to me than in any prior video game I’ve ever played. Video games like the Witcher 3 and most modern western RPG’s differ greatly from other entertainment mediums. The most similar form of entertainment would be a choose your own adventure book or a game of Dungeons and Dragons. In addition to the gameplay, these types of video games provide narrative choices to the player and allow them to pick their own, immersive adventure. The Witcher 3 does this better than any other game I’ve ever played. While many parts of Witcher 3’s story is static, choices are littered throughout the game and force the player to make decisions and gain ownership of those decisions. Decisions are not necessarily black or white, right or wrong, nor do they necessarily play out as expected. While a few of the decisions and consequences of those decisions let me down, the grand majority of subsequent events were deeply satisfying. The best advice I can give for someone playing this game is to not read any spoilers online, save as often as you can, and own up to your decisions. They may bring riches or ruin, whatever the case, embrace it and take responsibility for what you’ve decided.

I enjoyed the main quest’s story very much, but what is most attractive in a game like this are the side quests, and there are many, many side quests. Many of these side quests are just as thoughtful and content rich as the main quests. This helps encourage that sense of exploration and to go out into the world and look for more stories.

The Witcher 3 is an action, role-playing game that takes place in an open world in the style of the Dragon Age series, or Mass Effect. That is to say, you have access to a number of massive areas which are open worlds in and of themselves, but the entire game does not take place in a single, seamless open world. While there are few different areas, there is one primary open world in which most of the events in the game take place.

Gameplay consists of combat, which consists of a combination of physical attacks, magic, and dodging. Stat buffs in the form of potions and oils also play a big role in the game. It’s generally an easier, simplified version of what you’d find in Dark Souls or Bloodborne. There is definitely room for improvement on this aspect of the game.

There is also leveling and skill points which can be spent in abilities that increase stats or provide new spells and abilities. There’s also lots of gear and loot to equip and try out. Standard role-playing game fare. I would say that the weakest part of this game is the combat, but that’s not because it was bad. I actually found it pretty fun. Combat is the weakest part because all the other parts of this game are so strong.

The Witcher 3 pushes the genre forward and improves on open world games in almost every way. There are too many times while playing this game that I found myself admiring an improvement over something that I disliked from prior role-playing and open world games I’d played in the past. For instance, many times, after you finish a quest, you get the option to continue on and teleport to the start of the next quest in the plot or to stop and do something else.

Further, no issues or errors occurred when I completed quests in whichever order I wanted. Often times in prior games, when you complete a quest with big ramifications, other characters will ignore those ramifications and act as if they never happened because of bad planning on the game maker’s part. Instead, in-game characters make odd comments that don’t make a lot of sense which breaks the immersion of a game. None of that happens in the Witcher 3. In fact, dialogue often changes depending on the actions you’ve taken in the past. Further still, all quest dialogue that I’ve come across is unique, even for little throwaway quests like clearing a cave or bandit encampment. This really helps keep you immersed in the world of the game and its story.

What’s amazing is that I’ve never seen minor conveniences like these prior to this game. There are a million more thoughtful little touches and improvements here that elevate this game above games like Skyrim, Fallout 4, and the Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Visually, The Witcher 3 is one of the best games I’ve ever seen. Technically, I wouldn’t say this game is better than games like Batman: Arkham Knight or Assassin’s Creed: Unity. The Witcher 3 is part of the same video game generation and is technically equivalent. Additionally, many of the trailers that advertised this game showed gameplay that did not look as good as it did in the actual game. I was playing the on maximum graphical settings by the way.

I will say that artistically, the world is very detailed, stylish, and beautiful to look at. I still remember times when I was riding my horse through a sun drenched field, watching computer controlled characters walk around and go about their lives. The Witcher 3 may not be the clear, best looking game I’ve ever seen, but it is damn good.

In regards to audio, the music here is great. The music in Witcher 3 is what you’d expect from material of the fantasy, genre. There’s sweeping orchestral music, often times with vocal accompaniment. I loved the music and it helped greatly to set the mood and immerse me into the game.

I also need to say something about the impressive voice acting here. Often times in games of this size, you get repeat voices doing a lot of different characters. I’m sure something like that must have happened here, but to the game maker’s credit, I could not tell if any of them were repeats or if they hired an army of voice actors. Either way, Witcher 3 does a great job with its voice acting.

The expansions were really fun as well. I won’t go too much into the expansions except to say that they are substantial and essential to the game’s experience. If you are thinking of buying the Witcher 3, I suggest you buy the Game of the Year Edition as it comes with the expansions and all downloadable content. The game is periodically on sale at gog.com so you should be able to get it from between twenty to thirty dollars.

Overall, I really enjoyed the Witcher 3. This wasn’t my favorite game of all time, but I can recognize what this game accomplishes. The storytelling, player choices, visuals, music, voice acting, and countless improvements onto the open-world role-playing game genre were amazing. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a great game and a sprawling adventure that I will not forget any time soon.

Score: 8.8/10

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s