I don’t have many favourites. Say, you ask me what my favourite movie of all time was, tv show, artist, song etc. etc. I could run you off a list of top fives or top tens maybe, but you’d rarely, if ever, have me telling you that XXXX is my favourite of all time. The Witcher 3 – Wild Hunt just might be my favourite game of all time. At least, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather have at the top spot. But I can sense this may be a long post….
Now, the first thing you notice about this game when you boot it up and step into the sizeable shoes of Geralt of Rivia is that FUCK ME it looks gorgeous. Don’t deny it, I know you’re thinking it. The sweeping, sun-drenched vistas, the lashing rain, the foliage wafting in the breeze… you’d be hard pressed to find this level of environmental detail in any other open-world game. Take the largest city in the game, Novigrad, for example: Every building within this sprawling location looks different. Every. Single. One. It’s supposed to be a multicultural hodgepodge sort of place and CD Projekt Red have undeniably achieved this effect. The streets are dirty and have cartwheel marks and ruts criss-crossing them and the sound design compliments this perfectly as well. The ambient sounds of citizens going about their daily business – whether down at the docks or praying up at the church of the shitey Eternal Fire – are truly fantastic.
Now, you can have a great looking game, but that doesn’t mean it’ll play well or be, y’know, FUN. What games are supposed to fucking be (looking at YOU, The Order: 1886 you piece of ASS). Fortunately, The Witcher doesn’t let you down. This game has a level of depth to the gameplay that rivals the solid world-building discussed above. The combat is extremely satisfying, combining a simple mixture of swordplay, simple magic and items such as bombs, the system delivers combat that is easy to grasp but difficult to master. Do you slash at the beast with a fast or heavy strike? Cast a shield? Burn it with fire? Chuck a bomb? Drink a stat-boosting potion? No seriously, tell me. What would you do, ladies and gents? Don’t answer that. The point is, there’s so many options. And so many enemies to murder! You’ve got your regular bandit types as in most games, but the stars of the show here are the monsters. There’s loads of them. And they’re all different, requiring different strategies to defeat them. Tiny Nekkers that are quick as shit, to water hags that toss muck at you, to the gigantic fiends that look like Bruce Banner’s twisted experiments on deer that have like three eyes. You either encounter these fuckers in the wild or take contracts out on them to supplement your income. So let’s talk about the missions.
The main story isn’t really anything special. It’s good. It’s solid and pretty enjoyable, introducing you to a huge number of the impressive character list introduced in the books (by Andrzej Sapkowski). I enjoyed it more than Skyrim’s story though. I might bash Skyrim a lot here by comparison but… I love Skyrim as well so fuck you. The real stars of the show are the side missions. In lots of modern games (*cough* UBISOFT *cough*) side missions don’t mean jack shit. They’re there… good for you. In The Witcher, lots of them impact the world and peoples’ views of your character. Even the simplest missions provide depth to the game world. In the first area of the game, there’s a ‘quest’ to retrieve an old woman’s frying pan… turns out it was nicked by a spy who needed the charcoal on it to make ink to write a letter leading to stolen goods. Nothing is ever as simple as it appears in the Witcher. NOTHING and NO ONE is ever purely black or white, good or evil. And it’s fucking glorious.
Talking about something that IS as simple as it appears though is the fact that the world itself is HUGE. I’d call it an open-world game, but nay sayers among you may call it a ‘semi’ open-world, purely because there’s about three or four main areas in the game (if you include the DLC) that you have to fast-travel between… of course, each of these areas is as big as, if not bigger than many other open worlds. Oh, and get this: for each of these areas, NO LOADING SCREENS while you’re in them. Even for entering buildings. BETHESDA, please PLEASE learn how to fucking do this in Elder Scrolls or Fallout. It’s not fucking rocket science to be able to have a character walk through a door into a detailed interior without having a shitting loading screen. FOOLS. Each area is filled with unique characters and NPCs that reflect the differing cultures of the areas. Attention to detail wins again.
And my GOD I haven’t even talked about the in-depth item and potion crafting options in the game. I mean you can write a post entirely devoted to the weapons and armour here alone, there’s that much. And they all look awesome, even if they’re crap. And HOLY SHIT.. Gwent.
Apparently the developers designed this simple game in just two days. Now they’re planning to release a version of it as a separate game entirely, it’s that fucking good. It’s a card game played by many characters within the world, with various cards to collect based upon different people and creatures from both the books and the games. The highest score wins, naturally… but it’s like cocaine. You need it in your life. Gwent is life. It’s not really but it’s shitting good fun and I’m looking forward to the independent Gwent release.
I’ve rambled on enough about this. And I’ll probably end up editing this more when I get round to thinking of even more to write about because there IS more. The DLC for example. CD Projekt Red know how to treat their fans. There’s no micro-transactions here! They released a bunch of DLC for free when the game launched and to top it off, the expansions to the game as truly huge – Blood and Wine alone contains more content than most full priced, £45 games… and it’s about £15. And you want to buy Call of Duty and get more of the same shit….? Seriously guys. Grow a headbrain. JK you’re all lovely people. Or are you?
Anyway, there’s so much to say about this game. Sure it has its share of problems – nothing’s perfect, right? It can get a little glitchy at times, and there were a bunch of bugs in it for a while, but guess what, CD Projekt are awesome and actually fixed them. THEY CARE, GUYS! But yeah, you need this game in your life. Give it a chance, play for more than 10 hours and you’ll be hooked for potentially hundreds… it’s just, simply, a FANTASTIC title. Now don’t you got monsters to kill?