I’ve killed hundreds of beasts, helped enough people to form their own village and had a few quick romances, yet I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
That’s because, even after the core story, which can take close to 50 hours to complete depending what other distractions you do along the way, there are hundreds of extra quests and things to see that can stretch your playtime in this game easily over 200 hours. So far, the game hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, and neither have I in my interest in the game.
Even though it’s the third title in the series, Wild Hunt is a solid entry point for newcomers as well. CD Projekt RED did a great job giving background to the past story before delving into even more of the world’s lore, seeing the after effects of the war and how much the magic in the world really has damaged the world.
Geralt is still the leading Witcher in the game, taking on whatever quests come his way for money and goods. It could be as simple as lighting funeral pyres to taking down giant beasts and wraiths. Whatever puts coins on the table for the next meal or repairing weapons is all that matters to him. However, we do see more sides of Geralt in this game than in past titles. He’s not just the cold Witcher that people see him as, he also has a just side when doing quests, seems to actually be caring more about certain women for a relationship and even has become a mentor to who could become the next generation of Witchers, Ciri.
The main quest revolves a lot around Ciri. Geralt has not only trained her, but raised her like family as well. However, she also has an unknown power that has interested The Wild Hunt, a mysterious group that rides the land, killing and terrifying those that see them. While you originally try to find Yennifer, the quest quickly turns to finding Ciri and trying to save her from The Wild Hunt.
A new aspect that happens in some sequences is that you take control of Ciri, letting you see events from her point of view in some instances and see how she is staying alive and ahead of her pursuers.
As you go through the game, you’ll find that choices have more meaning than in past titles. Early on, the game asks you a variety of questions to get your choices from the past two titles and set the scene for the third entry. Outside of that, there are a lot more choices in this game that aren’t black and white early on, and actually have more repercussions later on.
The Wild Hunt also opens up the world a lot compared to Witcher 2. While the second game was more closed in, the third is expansive, letting you explore the countryside to your heart’s content. Besides plenty of secondary quests, treasure hunts and Witcher contracts to accept from bulletin boards, there are dozens of points of interest to explore in the world. Some are points of power which give you skill points, some are bandit camps or monster nests, and others are treasure troves protected by a monster that can give you useful items.
Helping you get around in the world is the impressive fast travel system. Like other action RPG titles, you can only fast travel to a place you’ve explored that has a signpost, and you have to be near a signpost to use the feature. While it may seem annoying, it actually encourages exploration to find a new spot to quest at, jump back to an old location to sell items, travel to a new location and push out even farther, whether by running, horse or even sailing.
Combat in the game has been made more streamlined. Geralt automatically pulls out the steel sword or club for humanoid opponents and silver sword for creatures, meaning you don’t have to manually switch for attacks. There’s a heavy and light attack, along with your choice of magic attack (fire, shield, trap, mind control and force push) and dodge and roll, which work great and give options to counter and parry, giving you a lot of options to jump back, recover and jump back into the fray.
While it’s still not easy, as creatures can quickly destroy you, it is simpler to use compared to the first games stances and second’s flowing combat.
Something else that gets used quite a bit in game is the Witcher Vision, which can show lootable objects and clues on quests. A lot of quests require it to find tracks and scents to follow to lead to creatures. It’s similar to Detective Vision from the recent Batman games, and, like Arkham Asylum, you’ll spend a lot of your time in the vision to make sure you don’t miss anything. However, this also takes away from seeing the world normally, which looks amazing and vast.
With the world being so big, it’s worth noting that you may run into some glitches here and there, similar to Skyrim. I haven’t had anything terrible so far, outside of the save glitch on Xbox One, but there were some problems with the climbing mechanics not recognizing a ledge, leading to deaths not my fault, and some small clipping issues when jumping along a mountain. Nothing big, but should lead to some entertaining videos I’d guess.
The game also features an auto-save feature that can come in handy, but I still have to recommend manual saves to make sure your save is working correctly (Xbox One players, looking at you here) and to give yourself options to try branching paths in some missions if wanted.
Like I mentioned above, the world is stunning. You’ll run into some small glitches here and there, but the world is extremely detailed and makes you want to explore all the little areas to see the small details added in.
The voice acting and music is just as great in the game. CD Projekt RED made sure everything was polished here, and it shows. There are very few games where even the small sidequests interest me in hearing all the dialogue, but The Wild Hunt had me constantly interested.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is easily the best entry in the series so far. It’s easy for newcomers to hop in and enjoy, yet can offer a great challenge to veteran players. While there are a few small issues here and there, Wild Hunt is definitely one of the must-have titles for action RPG fans, and can let any gamer get lost for hours in the sprawling world and gripping story.