Published on June 5th, 2015 | by Don Parsons0
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Review
Summary: The Witcher 3 sets the new bar for open-world RPG's.
My adventures as Geralt of Rivera have been some of the most rewarding I can recall in an RPG. I get to slay bandits, find treasure, craft powerful witcher gear, slay even more powerful monsters, help people (for a price), and even get laid. My one of my favorite moments so far has been sneaking into a little nook that reminded me of a Hobbit’s home that was being guarded by a monster far stronger than me. I snatched the loot, and ran like a bat out of Hell. That time was a lot better than the time I took someone head on that was much stronger than me and got killed almost instantly. Or the time I was surrounded by foglets and rolled myself back into a corner and couldn’t escape before they killed me.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the latest action-RPG from CD Projekt RED on PC and the current-gen of consoles. You play as Geralt of Rivera, a powerful witcher in search of Ciri, his daughter. Well, she’s not actually his daughter, but that’s for the game to explain.
The world is comprised of several large maps, Velen, Skellige, and Novigrad, as well as a few smaller areas that comprise the opening hours of the game. In those early hours, everything seems more streamlined and focused. Geralt has a small sandbox to run around and accomplish the task he is given, but can roam around freely. It wasn’t until I reached Velen that I actually felt free to my own devices. I was still coaxed along through the story, but exploring those ever-present question marks that kept appearing on my map was just so enticing.
One of the best parts of Witcher 3 is these little side steps from the story. I’m not saying the story is bad, or subpar, because it is far from that. But I’m so used to RPG’s that have great plots like Witcher 3, and then throw a bunch of rubbish in for filler as side-quests. That is not the case here at all. Quite the opposite, actually, as every side quest I played, or little event I stumbled upon, was teeming with life and begging to be explored. Many times when I was roaming the map, clearing question marks off, I would come across someone in need of help. Every once in a while, after completing one of these side quests, I was given the option to decline payment, which I mostly never did. But there was an off chance that I felt pity and did the work for free.
This sort of player choice is not just sprinkled throughout the game, but it’s everywhere. A main focus of the game, is allowing you to pick what Geralt says during any given interaction. For the most part the lines are all very well written, and some are even golden. The witty banter between Geralt and Yen is some of the best dialogue I could have ever hoped for. When they were together, I laughed and enjoyed their interactions immensely..
I played Geralt as I thought he would be if he were real. That doesn’t only go for dialogue though. In combat, I did not play the way I would if I were playing any other RPG. Part of that was because the game does not allow you to just hack and slash through every encounter. Or just use magic and fight from a distance. A delicate blend is required, depending on the situation.
When I first started playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I went in thinking I was going to be playing a bad-ass swordsman. This played to my own personal playstyle, as I usually play action or RPG games with a strong focus on melee fighting instead of using magic. While my first boss fight was a painful lesson in teaching me how combat worked, it was rewarding. But it was every major confrontation after that boss that I came to appreciate Witcher 3 more and more. I couldn’t just hack and slash my way through a wraith that was invisible most of the time. I had to lay a magic trap to win that one. And coming across an ogre of some sort (the exact species eludes me right now) was a challenge until I learned exactly how to fight one. Combat, in short, is fluid and rewarding once it all comes together. And you have to use your brain.
Even during the distracting bits of story where you have to play as Ciri, combat is the strong suit. As Ciri, you are faster and have access to a few abilities Geralt does not, though one doesn’t become apparent until after half a dozen or so plays as Ciri. But that’s what started making these off-sections more enjoyable. Up until then, I felt they were out of place and just odd. I couldn’t decide what the developers were going for when they wrote these sections in, but once her combat ability opened up, I found the Ciri sections to be less of a nuance.
What I cannot express enough is just how fun it is to play as Geralt. Exploring the rich, colorful world CD Projekt Red designed *as* Geralt is just an enthralling experience. You can’t just sit down for a little bit to play Witcher 3: Wild Hunt because you will end up completely wrapped up in whatever you are doing and will lose track of time.
Witcher 3 is the most complete RPG I have played. Everything you do in Witcher 3 feels like it has meaning. Even the most insignificant quests are so well-written and versed, and the story just tugs you along and entrances you to keep playing. Combat is well-blended and smooth, and exploring the world is not only enlightening but fruitful. Witcher 3: Wild Hunt hits every mark required in an open-world, action RPG, and does so with a finesse rarely seen.
This review was written based on gameplay on the Xbox One console with review code provided by the publisher. For more information on our review policies, please read here.