The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is here and is the final evolution of what the original game set out to do way back in 2007. With each entry, the Witcher series changed and became older and better with age. CD Projekt, with their third and final entry to the Witcher series, has come to a crossroads. How do you ask? By long-time fans and newcomers to the series coming together to experience Geralt of Rivia’s long and final journey through this massive and immersive world. Which means that there are preconceptions about what to expect, which in the end, is a massive game that welcomes newcomers and integrates each of us into the world fluidly and comfortably.
A witcher is someone who has gone through extensive training and has become a mutant through alchemical enhancement which creates super humans that take on all forms of beasts and supernatural monsters. Geralt of Rivia is one of the more famous and legendary of these witchers and has been known to be highly effective at what he does.
The third entry in the Witcher series takes place after the second title, Assassin of Kings, and begins with Geralt having found his adoptive daughter Ciri, by the emperor of Nilfgaard because she is being pursued by the supernatural force, the Wild Hunt.
Ciri has her time to shine in here too. Given control of Ciri, she is agiler but weaker than Geralt when playing as her. She isn’t as full witcher either, so her combat is limited in a sense. Ciri can either be a welcoming and friendly person or more of an introvert.
The combat in The Witcher 3 is itself an evolution from the second title and refined; the animations are smooth, and you need to plan how to react to enemies. Parry, or dodge, counter or attack, each action has a weight to it. Taking damage in combat can only be healed by taking regenerative potions and usually health regenerates slowly and when you have three or more enemies surrounding you, well, you’re marked for death then.
Luckily, the battle system incorporates magic or signs in The Witcher 3. There are five base signs you have and can upgrade and each one has a branch to learn. Quen, my favourite, creates a protective shield around Geralt and deflects damage for a couple hits. Igni casts fire at enemies, Aard is a telekinetic blast that pushes enemies away. Axii is mind control for both combat and dialogue choice and Yrden is a magical trap that locks enemies in a bubble and slows their movement when trapped.
A little sidenote; upon clearing the game the first time you are given a new difficulty setting called “Dark” and is essentially the permadeath mode of the game. This dials the difficulty past “death march,” and into some new territory that many Witcher fans seem to love. By becoming a Witcher themselves, living off the land, hunting deer for food when money isn’t enough to cover a meal and more. These decisions can lead to your death and to your save being deleted.
The loot and inventory system leave something to be desired. While looting isn’t the issue at all and I did have no qualms with it, my gripe lies with the inventory system being obviously made for PC. On consoles managing my store was a disaster and often had to find a place to return to drop off my loot, I didn’t need at the time.
In The Witcher 3 to craft you need to find materials out in the world or by dismantling items you own, by doing this you can create weapons, armour and consumables. You travel the lands discovering diagrams on how to get better gear and become stronger. The systems feel way too complex and I ended up saving everything I came across unsure of what to keep or to sell.
Alchemy returns as well and is definitely more useful and easier to use than crafting. Creating potions and concoctions to make Geralt temporarily faster and stronger is essential to surviving the world. The wide assortment of potions, ointments, and bombs available to craft will keep you busy and on your toes as you plan the next monster’s defeat.
The world itself is another character you can interact with. What I mean is that every corner has something to look at or has something happening. It’s about the little things such as attention to detail, for example how Geralt cracks jokes at others expense, or how he interacts with his horse, Roach. How he sighs at requests from NPC, things we would do when tasked with menial things. It’s these little interactions that I found charming more than anything.
The issue of the open world is having to add padding to add much needed length to these type of games and sadly the main story of the game takes a hit because of how many times we are asked to perform errands to get a tidbit of information about Ciri. This isn’t terrible per say it keeps everything swinging forward in the end.
The Witcher 3 eases new players into an entirely massive world and welcomes back old fans with open arms, sadly the main quest felt heavy-handed. What kept me going was the characters, the combat and the need to keep getting stronger. CD Projekt Red has ended their Witcher trilogy in the biggest and best way possible. A technical masterpiece and a stellar RPG, there is so much to experience here that no one should miss out.