Developer: CD Projekt RED | Released: 2015 | Genre: RPG, Third Person
So I finally completed the main story of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, including most of the question marks on all maps and the free DLC with side quests. It took me almost 99 hours and I reached level 35. Save games are available – see the top menu bar.
This is one of the best games I’ve ever played and I would recommend it to anyone interested in an open world RPG, regardless of whether you liked the first two games or not. Fantastic atmosphere, groundbreaking facial animations in cutscenes, a lot of great quest stories all over the places, and I also liked how I could get a lot better at fighting as time went by and I got used to dodging instead of rolling.
I remember wondering about the claims that The Witcher 3 made Fallout 4 look completely lacklustre in comparison, but now that I’ve completed it, I can certainly see it.
Boy am I glad that I played Fallout 4 before this one.
That being said, the game really was too big. I’ve been playing a lot of game series back to back lately such as e.g. Risen 1 to 3, but I’ve decided that I need a break before I’ll take on the two expansion packs. I may snoop around and see if there are any missing question marks on the vanilla maps, though.
There were a couple of glitches and annoyances, but they were very minor in the context of the enormous open world and its gazillion marvelous side quests.
Nevertheless, let’s get them out of the way first.
I visited the Dragonslayer’s Grotto and started killing a lot of level 7 monsters in there, which at the time was a fair fight. Then suddenly a level 20 monster spawned and handed me my ass with ease. I think it was a teleporting monster that was supposed to lurk around on the surface, and for some reason the game allowed it to teleport down into the level 7 dungeon I was in.
I gave up and returned later, then killed the level 20 monster up there on the surface.
One small thing that actually annoyed me in the beginning was the weird cap on custom icons on the map. I could only place a maximum of 10 red skull icons, and it was a problem because I used it to note places I wanted to return to at a higher level.
The player arrow on the minimap also turned a bit too slow, which was slightly irritating when trying to loot all the dead corpses around me. Also, I could have used an edge arrow icon on the minimap to show me the direction of the nearest signpost.
It was also a shame that 99% of the loot was weaker than what I was using. I used crafting to get the best witcher armor and swords, but it was clearly better than loot. Lots of selling to vendors. Good thing that the side quests and the exploration was so good that it didn’t really matter if the loot was lacking.
The bad weather in especially Velen often made me wish for a swap between it and the sunny weather outside of my apartment. I’m probably old-fashioned, but I like my sun and good weather in video games. Makes it easier to enjoy my surroundings.
Just because you can make convincing crap weather doesn’t mean you should.
There were also a wee bit too many small side quests starting with someone looking like they were in trouble and I decided to fight the troublemakers, after which the victim told me I just made it worse and I should never have intervened in the first place.
Once would have been enough. People are supposed to be grateful for my help, right?
And among my list of worn RPG tropes, the game had the dreaded acting in a theater with lines of dialog that could be wrong. Lots of sighing there. At least I didn’t see any class-like arena fights, lawyer quests or housing, at least not on this side of the expansion packs. The sequences with Ciri could perhaps be covered by that list – controlling someone else with other abilities – but thankfully her parts were short and in the late game she was even wonderfully powerful. Also, I liked her “Blink”-ability a lot.
I didn’t bother with fistfighting, horse racing nor the card game Gwent. Luckily most of this was completely optional and the game didn’t require me to play Gwent as part of the main story. There was a smattering of mandatory fistfighting and horse racing, though.
I didn’t like the fistfighting much and I sometimes had to turn the difficulty down. I later read that it’s important to go defensive on the right mouse button. The few horse racing parts I was forced to do wasn’t bad, though. I won all of those in the first attempt.
The whirlwind ability was a bit of a mixed blessing, however. Being able to smack a lot of enemies with it was theoretically awesome, but way too many groups were too scattered or the enemies knew to keep their distance. I usually only got one, two, maybe three, unless I didn’t play nice and somehow lured them all into a tight space for the ultimate gang-bang.
Which for the most part wasn’t even an option.
It’s always interesting to note the difference in priorities in big games like these. A lot of things were top notch quality, especially as mentioned the textures and the facial animations in cut scenes. The open world was convincing and the view distance vast. The fabric was moving on the detailed clothes of people. The way the entire forest moved in the wind.
And then I got down to a beach and merely saw the edge of the water clipping right up without any convincing waves at all. Boom, water. Go swim, if you want.
Even the first Far Cry from 2004 did this a lot better.
And how did the developers (or the game characters) somehow clairvoyantly know when I was about to hit the screenshot button? Too often the blinking was timed perfectly with the screenshot and I’ve lost count of how many I’ve deleted because the character looked stoned.
On the other hand, there were a lot of other things that pleasantly surprised me.
Shift to sprint, whether on foot on riding the horse, logically drained a stamina bar, but for some reason this didn’t seem to apply to swimming. I could swim fast forever. Who needs a boat!? (I still used one from time to time, though.)
Shift while riding made my horse follow the road. It was nice, but I actually didn’t ride much. I’ve always been a runner in these games.
Novigrad is probably one of the biggest and most detailed video game cities I’ve yet to witness. I think only the cities from the biggest MMORPG and the Assassin’s Creed games can be compared to it when it comes to sheer size and liveliness.
And cats were hissing at Geralt as I passed them by. Must have been his eyes.
It was so nice to hear background music with an actual melody again. Way too many RPG lately just have ambient music to merely create a certain mood. That being said, they could have been longer, or several tunes for each area. They tend to repeat a lot.
Skellige was a nice change of pace from Velen with its mountains and islands. One thing I was particularly happy about was that I could reveal a lot of signposts simply by buying a lot of maps from the first merchant I met there. It meant a lot less sailing around.
My milestones and ending:
- I freed the tree spirit and the baron hanged himself
- Cerys became the queen in Skellige
- Nilfgaard won the war and Temeria was restored
- Geralt loves Yennifer (sorry Triss)
- Radovid and Dijkstra are dead; I saved Roche and Ves
- I gave Ciri her space and she became a witcher in the end
In the vast ocean of awesome quests, I didn’t really like “A Matter of Life and Death” with Triss and Geralt wearing masks at a party in front of a mansion. Lots of strangely tough fistfights and a tiresome search for a certain guy with a certain mask.
But then, seeing Dijkstra wearing a pig mask was almost worth the price of admission.
I loved the one about the drunken witchers around the table in the castle at Kaer Morhen. Especially the way Geralt’s speech became blurred and the way Lambert and he declared their undivided respect for each other. Great stuff.
One of the biggest laughs I had in the entire game was when I visited the Isle of Mists. I was looking for Ciri there, but four dwarfs had locked themselves up in a small house and wouldn’t unlock it until I had found their three lost companions. Yes, I know; the seven dwarfs. Well, one was dead and the other was an escort quest where the NPC constantly fell asleep.
Yes, I saw what you did there, developers. It looked like a tribute to the escort quest in the Un’Goro Crater in World of Warcraft. Luckily, it was nowhere near as annoying.
But the part that made me laugh out loud was the third dude. I found a needle cliff, tall as a tower, with him on top of it. Save me from the monsters down there, he yelled. I killed them with ease and told him it was all right to come down now. He thanked me wholeheartedly and started climbing down.
Then he tripped and fell to his death. 😀
Sorry, dwarfs, I only found one of your mates. Ironically, that hilarious fall was followed by one of the most touching cutscenes I’ve ever seen in a video game – the one where Geralt finds Ciri and thinks she’s dead. It was really powerful.
Another quest had a bit of bad design. It was the one against Jutta, the warrior woman on an island in Skellige. No man has ever been able to beat her, she claimed. All right, I’ll give it a shot, then. We started. Swords were swinging. I used a sign to push her back.
Then the quest instantly failed as she claimed magic wasn’t fair!
What!? No magic? You never told me that magic or signs wasn’t allowed in this fight! I had to reload an earlier quicksave to give it another shot. Bad design, developers. Let us know in advance if there are special rules we need to be aware of.
Or maybe she did say it and I just didn’t pay attention.
The big battle in Kaer Morhen was really awesome and epic, while the ending of the game seemed a little too cliché for my taste. Two bosses with typical abilities I’ve seen a million times before in such end game fights. Sometimes the boss backs off and releases extra devastating magical attacks, or he spawns a few minions to keep me entertained while he tends to his latest wounds.
Where did the ingenuity of the game writing and design go all of a sudden?
Another problem was that I knew almost nothing about these bad guys; Caranthir and Eredin. Yes, they wore intimidating black armor and masks, but other than that, they’ve not exactly had an abundance of cutscenes in this game.
And that apocalypse, with big monsters all over the landscape and fireballs raining down from above. I actually had problems keeping up with Yennifer on my horse. Not that I was taking damage and almost dying, far from it. It was just so confusing.
Probably the most unexpected piece of action in the entire game was that snowball fight with Ciri in Kaer Morhen, shortly before the big battle. I knew it was part of what gave me one of the better endings, but I didn’t expect it to be a whole minigame in itself.
As mentioned, I’ll take a break before playing the two expansions.
Version: Steam | Length: 98 hours 56 minutes