The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt - Game Review

The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt - Game Review

The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt is one of those games that lures you in with it's promise of being an epic adventure of vast proportions, countless valuable items such as swords, armor,  decoctions, potions and even a mini game called Gwent. How does CD Project Red's latest title stack up against it's claims? Lets find out.

I'll be 100% honest here, I didn't actually like the Witcher 3 and I bought it due to the ever misleading hype gamers tend to burrow deep within the subconscious which makes us believe a game is better then it really is. My first 3 to 4 hours of the Witcher 3 Wild Hunt I actually quietly thought to my self as I played this game "I'm not going to like this, I can tell already and I just wasted $60". But I pressed on unwilling to let my hard earned cash go to waste due to a bad decision.

The world wasn't as big as it lead on to me, the fighting mechanics were not what I was used to and I couldn't be bothered to hand piece together my first set of armor, heck I didn't even get a decent set of armor until about half way through my quest.

There was a turning point which made me keep marching on, an integral part of the game's indepth story made me pick up my swords and keep pushing forwards. I started to see what the developers wanted me to to see which was the fact that they put a lot of detail into this game. I can't even begin to explain how much content is here. But for the faithful readers of IFL Games I'll spill the beans and highlight in detail exactly what made me fall in love with the characters, monsters, story and lore of The Witcher 3.

The world of The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt

Witcher 3 Wild Hunt - Novigrad concert

I've played my fair share of open world games and while The Witcher 3 is pretty much an open world it's broken up into multiple sections, but don't let that fool you because each section is vast and filled to the brim with glorious wonders and deadly encounters. There's not only land to traverse but also a vast ocean with enough sunken treasure to collect deep sea treasure hunting alone could keep you sea bound for hours.

While the sea is filled with life, ship wrecked valuables and tantalizing bandit booty to pack in your ever expanding inventory there's also menacing vile monsters to be found in the dark murky depths.

On land you can get lost in sprawling forests, deep valleys, mountain tops or caves full of danger and if you're not careful you'll run into a swarm of unsavory characters wanting to rip out your entrails and feast on them like candy. Good thing you're a Witcher right?

There are many different types of monsters from human to non-human to vile to down right frightening that you will encounter and usually have to take on many of them in a single fight.

If you challenge yourself and aim for higher leveled enemies almost every fight will fill like a boss fight especially when you go treasure seeking. Some enemies and monsters drop trophies which you can proudly boast on the side of your not so reliable horse named Roach which gives you a slight boost in certain special abilities and almost every fight you finish will leave you with the feeling of a kleptomaniac as you ravage through entrails to pick up any items your slain foes may have dropped which you can use to craft a multitude of things with.

Caves can end up being shallow dugouts or expansive underground caverns with much to explore and wondrous tails to unfold. Or they could lead to  three rock trolls who want to smash you into paste.

A curious stroll through the forest can unearth a territorial Leshen who doesn't like your presence in his neck of the woods or a gargoyle lazily meandering about waiting for the unsuspecting to smash or even perhaps a small group of cowering men who want your help fighting a griffin that's keeping them from safely  traversing the forest themselves. The encounters in the world of The Witcher 3 Wild hunt is never ending no matter the scale of the event and each time feels unique and new.

The Story

The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt Store is very rich and deep

The story of The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt has you tracking down Geralt's somewhat adopted daughter who is being pursued and tracked down by the Wild Hunt. Ciri was practically raised by Geralt and is actually a princess, her father Emperor Emhyr var Emreis has hired Geralt to find his missing daughter which Geralt was pretty much already in the process of doing. The Wild Hunt wants Ciri because of a specific power she possess and I won't go into to much detail about this part as I don't want to ruin anything for you guys/gals.

If you want to talk the cut and dry straight line story then you might want to take a seat as each turn in this epic novel rendition is met with more turns and more decisions than any other game I've played. Your choices in The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt really feel valid and while they ultimately might lead to the same conclusion some of your choices will alter the story and outcome dramatically.

Story wise there is just so much to take in as it happens to remember it all, so many names to remember along the way, all the quest items you'll utilize and so many enemies or alliances I've made that I tend to not know who what or why I'm talking to specific reason and if I should be concerned or not. This game will definitely require a second or third play through to take in the vastness of this story's plot.

The world of The Witcher 3 is a dark and unfair place. You will find yourself choosing between the lesser of 2 evils on almost every decision. It's never an easy choice and you're wondering the fact that if you choose to kill someone instead of letting them go or helping them if it will start a war further down the line, which would throw you into another large amount of Witcher work to be done.

The story alone has a speedrun time of 25 hours, that means a play tester played the game taking the fastest paths, skipped all the unnecessary missions, side quests, items, mini-games and even skipped the dialog sequences when characters are talking and completed the game in 25 hours.

The Combat System

Image curtesy of shacknews.com

One of the places The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt lags behind in is unfortunately the combat system. It just doesn't seem to have the acute, tight knitted feel of a solid game, most of the time I was slicing up already fallen foes from pressing the attack button one to many times especially with the crossbow which I only use for underwater for this very purpose.

I have to say though that if you focus on executing every strike you can end up with some pretty awesome fight sequences and will leave you totally feeling like the  badass dual sword wielding WWitcher you are (You go Geralt of Rivia). However some of the time my fights end up with both the enemy and myself seeing who can whack the last splinter of life out of the other.

You'll find most encounters to be manageable if you keep a clear head, prepare beforehand, use  your oils properly and have a good understanding of your target's fighting style, it's when you adventure into higher level monster territory that you will really need to watch every step you take or meet a swift end at the claws of a Katakan.

Then there's the fights where you will simply need to avoid until you're strong enough to face off against a certain entity and keep them in the back of your mind plotting your revenge for the anguish they've caused you over and over while all you wanted to do was collect a treasure chest full of items which you only plan to dismantle to make something else. A Witcher's job is never east.

While the fighting in The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt isn't 100% on point it's definitely functional and there are many ways you can build Geralt,  whether you want to play as a hack'n'slash gamer, a magic user or if you just want use potions and decoctions to gain leverage in a fight while you switch from sword to magic in order to gain the upper hand. Just expect some difficulty in the first half of the game while your fingers figure out how to adapt to the rigid movement.

Gwent - The Card Game

At first I was going to totally avoid Gwent like the plague, I didn't really like most mini games but Gwent quickly won my interest in the fashion it is played. You have a standard deck of cards at the beginning and as you progress through the game you find Gwent players who you can challenge and defeat for their cards.

Gwent players can be found literally peppered all over the world and some of them have unique high quality cards you definitely want to go for. There's even a Gwent championship quest where you go up against some of the best players. The card game can be kind of vapid until you complete certain quests that has you chasing down some of the best cards in the game but near the end of that quest you'll be able and ready to take on almost every Gwent player with confidence.

You can only win 1 card per NPC you face off against and there are over 100+ cards to collect to complete one of the quests, think about that for a moment. Most of the basic card holders aren't announced anywhere so it's almost up to randomness if you run into someone who plays.

Though when you sit down to play and you have a beefed up monster deck with the Crones leading the way along side some other amazingly powerful cards you know you're going to be walking away with that chump's most beloved low end card.

The Conclusion

I convinced myself in the first few hours of playing and not really enjoying this game to let myself stop thinking of the small annoyances I didn't like and just absorb what my $60 has bought me. I've been playing The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt for well over 120 hours and I just recently started to feel like I might be near the end of the main story. as for side quests, Witcher contracts, random missions and undiscovered areas I feel like there's so much to do here that it's overwhelming my 100% completions gamer mentality and I find that completing a quest only puts a tiny scratch on the overall amount of quests this game offers. I have done countless quests and while I may have ran into the same monsters quite a few times each encounter feels different and meaningful.

I picked this game not playing the first 2 Witcher games and while it feels like I don't get some of the context in some of the dialogs I don't feel it's completely necessary to play them to understand the basics o the world that unfolds.

If you like adventure games with deep stories and winding  paths I strongly urge you to pick this game up. It's definitely worth the money.

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