My review of The Witcher 3 has been updated for both Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine!
After putting in more than 150 hours across both the Xbox One and PC I’m finally ready to give you guys my thoughts on The Witcher 3.
I have a new structure for my reviews. Instead of just putting the “Good” or “Bad” I added in a “Great” section to further express what I think about the games that I play.
The emperor’s daughter is being pursued by the Wild Hunt and he hires Geralt of Rivia to find her. That’s the short version of the story, but it’s also spot on. The Witcher 3’s story is a basic one, but it’s told so well you kind of forget how basic it really is. Geralt is searching for Ciri and everywhere he goes he always seems to be a step behind her.
He’ll run into old friends along way and get involved in sticky situations while applying his Witcher trade to some contracts to make some much needed coin. The main quest line is excellent and really, really long. My first playthrough was well over 100 hours and I never once got bored or felt like playing something else.
For the first time in the series The Witcher is open world. This game is huge and it’s very easy to forget about the main quest and go off exploring. You’ll be accustomed to backtracking if you play like I do. I completed quite a few quest before I even got them because the first thing I do in games like this is explore my surroundings instead of collect new quest to do.
I do wish there was more of a variety in the landscape, but it’s only a minor complaint. What we do have is rich with detail and filled with things for us to do.
Throughout my journey I must have come across a few thousand plants, and mushrooms for me to pick up. I’m the type of player that can easily get distracted by small things like this so I gathered as many plants as I could and started making stronger potions, and bombs to use in battle. My first playthrough of the Witcher 3 was as an alchemist and I really enjoyed it.
I’ve killed wyverns by throwing fire bombs on them, and entire groups of drowners with a well aimed grapeshot bomb. I have a bomb for just about every situation that I’m in and a potion for Geralt to drink too. The alchemy in this game is amazing and very simple once you get the hang of it. Once I fought every monster type I knew what they were weakened by without having to go the bestiary to find. My knowledge from previous Witcher games also played a good part in this.
Every song in this game matches the atmosphere perfectly. Every area in the game has it’s own unique soundtrack. I think Velen had my favorite songs. It’s depressing and moody and the soundtrack reflects that perfectly. I also really liked Skellige and it’s soft tunes that played in the background.
The Witcher series has never had great gameplay and that continues to be true in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The combat is still way too unorthodox, and floaty for my taste. I was hoping there would be more of a Dark Souls type of feel to the combat system. Instead Geralt can roll extremely far, jumping is incredibly frustrating if you don’t time it right, and during combat he flips around and swings his sword exactly like he did in The Witcher 2. All they did was copy and past the animations from The Witcher 2 to The Witcher 3 with a few tweaks to make it more playable.
Not all of the gameplay is bad though. Riding roach is fun, when she lets you, and watching Geralt cut someone in half is awesome. Swimming is great and exploring underwater was fun at first until I realized that the majority of the question marks in the water were worthless and not worth time or effort in trying to sail the seas to get to them.
While it’s fun setting people on fire with Igni and watching them scream in terror as the flesh is burned from their bodies I was hoping for a more robust combat system then what we got here and throughout my 150+ hours in the game I couldn’t help, but notice all of the flaws in the gameplay itself.
Roach is not the only means of travel in The Witcher 3, but she will most likely be the most used form of travel. You can also sail on a boat while you’re out exploring the water or trying to travel to a city in the middle of the ocean. Geralt can also climb now and it makes getting to new locations a little easier if you can control him properly.
After all of that you’re probably thinking why I have the gameplay in the good portion of this review and not the bad portion of it. I like the gameplay of The Witcher 3, but that doesn’t mean I’m just going to sing it’s praise and say that it’s perfect because it’s not.
Exploring the wilderness around me is easily the best part of this game. I’m always so distracted with everything around me that I completely forget what I’m doing.
The monsters A.I is really well done. Wolves will surround you before attempting to attack, drowners will relentlessly jump and claw at you at the same, and werewolves will pounce at you when you’re distracted fighting off their wolf minions. Your companions on the other hand is a completely different story. They are stuck on stupid.
They don’t react to anything or do anything useful. Climbing is almost impossible for them to do. They would literally walk into the wall for a few minutes before they decide to climb it and when they do they immediately drop back down to where they were. Since I didn’t have to deal with having a partner for too long it helped pushed this up from being a big negative to a slight positive.
Depending on what port you’re playing would depend on what version of Roach that you get. If you’re playing on console I truly do feel sorry for you because Roach has no A.I to whatsoever. If you’re on PC though it’s a lot better. When I whistle Roach will run right to me and wait for me to climb up on her back so we can go exploring together. It’s great because this never happened to me on the Xbox One.
The graphics on every port look good, but there’s a noticeable difference between the PC and console ports. That difference is the Nvidia Hairworks. Hairworks makes everything look so much better in game that when I played on the Xbox One I was a little let down because I didn’t have my beard physics, and every beast/animal in the game didn’t have the sexy hair from the PC version of the game. That’s not to say that they looked horrible, but it’s a noticeable difference.
The graphics in this game aren’t fantastic though. The downgrade is real here and it’s not a big deal for me personally, but muddy textures are and I’ve noticed quite a bit of muddy textures throughout the game.
On the Xbox version of the game there are lots of pop ins and incomplete textures. On intense moments in the game there are even FPS drops, but it’s a rare occurrence. It’s still annoying though.
Some side quest in The Witcher 3 are fantastic. The entire Bloody Baron questline, and chasing down a vampire serial killer in Novrigrad are amongst my favorite quest in any game, but not every side quest is like this. A lot of the quest that I completed didn’t even have dialogue. All I did was find a book, and use my Witcher senses to find some worthless treasure and that was it. A lot of the quest in this game are repetitive. Especially the Witcher contracts. I enjoyed them immensely, but they are all structured the same way.
There are too many worthless skills to invest points into. I never once touched the warrior skill tree because I found it pointless. The damage bonus you get from leveling up your light/heavy swings are too little to be noticed. You’ll be much better off wearing all light armor and investing in the Cat perk later in the game. That will give you the 25% boost that you want in one perk instead of spending five skill points on one skill.
My personal build was through my alchemy and signs. Half of the alchemy skill tree is pointless and so is the signs. Igni, Quen, and Axii are the best skills to invest in if you want to put the game on easy mode. You will not have a challenge if you invest all of your points in Quen, and Igni and save Axii for later. Aard, Yrden, and just about every other skill in the game is complete shit.
I also really hate that Yrden was changed from the way it used to be. It was way cooler in The Witcher 2.
The Witcher 3 is filled with bugs. Many of them are game breaking bugs. I’ll categorized them between the PC and Xbox One below.
Before I can even start playing The Witcher 3 my game would crash at least once. This has become a normal process for me. I would go grab a drink and by the time I get back I’ll be looking at my desktop. I would also have to save frequently for fear of losing out on progress because this game is known to crash on me at least once every two hours.
Another annoying bug that forces me to reload my game is when I complete a quest I can’t talk to the NPC to get my reward. I can mash whatever button I want and nothing will happen. It’s not a game breaking bug, but it’s a really annoying one.
Xbox One Bugs:
I’ve experience everything from a flying Roach to running through the floor while looking at Roach’s ass flying in the air. I’ve seen the trees over my head while I’m out sailing on my boat, and fell to my death because I dismounted Roach while she was in midair. I’ve tried to get off of my boat and was teleported up above the world and fell about a billion miles to my death. The conversation thing also happens much more frequently on the Xbox One.
I was really excited when I first set sail in the Witcher 3. I was imagining in my head all of the treasures, and loot I would find while out at sea. Unfortunately that died pretty quickly when I realized the majority of the question marks were the exact same thing as the 10 before it and 90% of the crap I found was garbage. I got the point where I didn’t even bother diving in the water when I passed a bunch of floating barrels in the sea.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like having the world map riddled with question marks. It kind of kills the exploration for me. If I know there’s something where a question mark is what’s the point of exploring right? The Witcher 3 suffers from the Assassin’s Creed Syndrome and that’s having too much uninteresting shit littering the world map. Speaking of that map…
There is only one main map in the game. If I’m in a cave or underground somewhere and I want to look at the map to explore my area I can’t because it only shows the world map. This is unacceptable in an open world RPG. Dragon Inquisition, and Skyrim, which is much older than the Witcher 3, both had multiple maps that let us zoom out to get a better view of our surrounding.
I love Ciri as a character, but I really loathe playing as her. Compared to Geralt that has multiple signs at his disposal and years of combat experience I just felt like Ciri was the lowest point of the game for me. She didn’t get cool to use until the end of the game when she was one hitting everything.
Lack of Customization:
The Witcher 3 has plenty of armor sets, and weapons for us to use against the many beasts we’ll encounter, but there are only a few useful ones or good looking ones in general. I avoid just about everything that’s not Witcher gear or weaponry. It’s just not useful or good looking. Why would I want to walk around looking like a blue crayon? It makes no sense. I shouldn’t have to wear the exact same armor set through the whole game. All I did was keep upgrading it to higher tiers. There should be a wide variety of armor sets available to us in the game instead of just a few with different names on them. Many of the weapons in the game looked the same and I eventually just went with what I found useful over what I though looked cool sense they all look the same anyway.
The Final Boss Fight:
By the end of the game I was so strong that nothing could ever hope to defeat me. Unfortunately that also meant the boss of the game. He was terribly predictable and slow and I beat him in about ten minutes.
The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt is a fantastic game that tells an incredible story. It has some of the deepest side quest you’ll find in any game and it’s huge open world will keep you busy for months to come, but it’s plagued by some pretty annoying bugs, floaty combat, and some meaningless sea exploration. There are very few good looking armor sets in the game, and while I did love Ciri as a character I could go without playing as her ever again.
The PC version is the better version of the game. I would recommend waiting for the price to drop on the Xbox One before purchasing it because it’s plagued with bugs right now.
PC Verdict – 8/10
Xbox Verdict – 8/10
Since most of the bugs have been fixed in The Witcher 3 and since the console version of the game is more stable the Xbox version has gone up from a 7 to an 8 to match the PC version of the game. They’re both equal in every way in my opinion.
Hearts of Stone Review:
After my first two playthroughs of The Witcher 3 (1 on Xbox One, and 1 on PC) I took a long break from the game. I never had a chance to play any of expansions so I was really excited when I purchased the expansion pass on GoG. Since I no longer own a Xbox One this will be a PC only review of both Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine.
Hearts of Stone started off pretty slowly for me. I wasn’t really into it at first, but I loved the new expanded Novigrad region and enjoyed visiting the new higher areas on the map. Hearts of Stone is so well crafted that I had a hard time figuring out if I was visiting a new area or just skipped something my first time around and that’s both a good and bad thing in my opinion. The areas in Hearts of Stone aren’t very memorable because it’s more of the same, but they’re so well crafted, like the rest of the game, that I didn’t mind it.
I enjoyed the 10 hours I put in this little expansion. Some of the sidequest, which should surprise no one by now, are fantastic. I met a Ofieri merchant that told me how beautiful his homeland was and even challenged me to a horseback race. I was hoping to get his beautiful white steed as a reward because I was tired of my brown Roach, but instead all I got was it’s saddle…
The main quest is where this expansion shines. A routine Witcher contract turns into so much more when Geralt realizes that he was duped by someone that literally can’t be killed by any normal means. He meets someone that he hasn’t seen since the beginning of the game and our new adventure starts from there. Geralt has a new mark on his face as a reminder of his dept to this mysterious man. I had a great time with Hearts of Stone.
I went into a painting and helped a restless spirit find peace, had sex in a boat under moon with Shani, and defied some sort of demon. At the end of this expansion I was left wanting more. This is a quality little expansion even though the areas are just more of the same I can’t hold that against it because of how well crafted everything is. This isn’t some cheap cash grab DLC and if you haven’t played it yet you should.
Blood and Wine Review:
Blood and Wine is the second expansion, and final, expansion to The Witcher 3. If this truly is the last expansion for The Witcher 3 then it went out with a big bang. What can beat the finding Ciri and fighting the Wild Hunt? Vampires.
That’s right I said vampires and I’m not talking about those Twilight vampires. I mean The Witcher variant of them. This expansion added a bunch of new monsters, items, Witcher sets, and areas for us to explore in The Witcher 3 and it’s huge. Toussaint is a big, colorful, and dangerous place to explore which is why the game recommended me be level 35 before even starting the expansion.
Blood and Wine doesn’t just give us a new area to explore. It also brings a host of new gameplay features and even gives us a house to live in. You can upgrade the house by spending your hard earned cash that you get while completing Witcher contracts or by selling the loot of your fallen foes.
The best feature that this expansion added was a new mutagen skill tree. After completing a quest I was able to access my new mutagen skill tree to further upgrade Geralt’s abilities. One of these abilities turned Aard’s damage into frost damage. I’ve never been a big fan of using Aard over the other signs, but after I got that upgrade I couldn’t stop using it. There’s also a mutagen that lets us automatically finish an enemy when they’re low on hp after a successful parry attack.
Blood and Wine’s story is nothing short of great. It’s not as good as the main campaign, but it’s better then most other games that have released this year. As I played through the story I was constantly impressed at how well it was written. We even got to meet up with a old friend to help us out against the vampires and he was easily the best part of Blood and Wine. The dialogue between Geralt and his friend (don’t want to spoil his identity) was great and it even lets you decide if Geralt is going to retire to a simple life or continue the path of The Witcher.
Not everything is great about Blood and Wine. The romance this time around was pretty bad in my opinion. It was completely random and out of place in my opinion, but I didn’t complain because I got to see another naked lady :).
The city of Toussaint is beautiful, but lifeless. The only time I bothered to go back to the city after I competed all of the quest was when I needed to upgrade my gear.
There are a bunch of surprises in Blood and Wine that I purposely left out of this review because it’s best experienced on your own. When this expansion ended I was left wanting more. Geralt’s adventure is finally over and it ended in the best way possible. It’ll be sad moving on from The Witcher 3, but all good things must eventually come to a end.
The Final Verdict:
Since CD Projeckt Red has said that this is the final piece of DLC for The Witcher 3 I feel comfortable rating this game as a whole.
No game is perfect, but The Witcher 3 comes pretty close to it in my opinion. CD Projekt Red has turned this game into a masterpiece since it’s launch in 2015. Buy this game if you don’t already own it.