The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Review
Follow Genre: Action RPG
Developer: CD Projekt RED
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platform: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Tested on: Xbox One

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Review

Site Score
8.6
Good: Story, Crafting, Giant world to explore
Bad: Some graphical glitches in the Xbox One version, Combat feels a bit off
User Score
9.4
(5 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.4/10 (5 votes cast)

The following review will be about probably one of the most hyped and anticipated games of the last year, namely The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. After a fairly long wait, the time is nigh for monster slaying, with the best hunters the world has ever seen, the Witchers. These feared bounty hunters are said to be brutal killers, without emotions, who are only in it to earn some cash. Luckily all these old wives’ tales are to be taken with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, if you’re on their bad side, fear these inhuman butchers, as mercy might not always be in their vocabulary.

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Story

Just like in the previous installments you will play as Geralt of Rivia, a witcher who has been born and raised in the keep of Kaer Morhen in Kaedwin. Whilst he has been a bounty hunter for many years, life at the keep has been tranquil, as well as pleasant. Together with Vesemir, they have been training a young Witcher-to-be, Ciri. Ciri however, is a fairly stubborn girl who is eager to learn things she isn’t quite ready for yet. Nonetheless, all is well, to a certain extent. This portion of the game/story is but a fairly pleasant dream, which abruptly ends with a bad omen. Ciri gets grabbed by the Wild Hunt, a ghastly presence that all of mankind seems to fear, even though its existence has never been confirmed. When Geralt wakes up it’s clear many years have passed since the time of his dreams. As he is utterly confused why he saw the Wild Hunt in this fairly pleasant trip down memory lane, he knows this does not bode well.

In the present day and age (of the game) Geralt is looking for Yennefer, who was once his lover. Even though he has been looking for her for quite some time, it becomes clear that she is also in a pickle, as everywhere she has supposedly been, there are remnants of battles. After some searching, you find new leads, which prove to be useless as Yennefer comes to find you instead. The current emperor of Nilfgaard, Emhyr var Emreis, has summoned Geralt to his court, where Yennefer surprisingly was staying. It seems Emhyr, the father of Ciri, who is also in bad blood with Geralt, knows more about the whereabouts of his daughter, who has also been missing for many years. For some reason the Wild Hunt is interested in the girl as well and this is where the game decides to lift off.

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Overall the story is quite great, as the Wild Hunt is reminiscent of the horse riders of the apocalypse, which tends to make for an interesting tale. You control how fast the story progresses, as you’re in charge of where you wish to go next. If you’d rather sidetrack for a while, helping random inhabitants, you’re free to do so. Otherwise you can simply sink your teeth in the main quest. That being said, as many of the quests have level requirements, you’ll often find yourself having to do some extra quests, in order to continue with the main story.

Graphics

Having tested the Xbox One version of the game, the beginning left us with mixed feelings. Whilst most of the game looks great, with a lot of details, grand environments and overall nice looking characters, we were bombarded with framedrops, dodgy animations and textures that date back from the previous generation of consoles. After the initial disappointment things cleared up though, and we were able to see a masterpiece, with a few cracks in the dried paint. You’ll see the same ‘bushes’ all over the region(s) you find yourself in and most of them look rather flat, especially when galloping by. Water animations are often minimalistic, when swimming that is. You’ll more than once see barely any movement in the surface of the water, which makes it seem like you’re a ghastly swimmer. That being said, the water itself and other things that influence the water’s surface look quite swimmingly.

Other than some inconsistencies, you’ll be treated to great looking enemies that will ambush you at every turn. Both your and the enemies’ attack patterns look spiffy and the movements that accompany them are fluent. Overall it’s clear you’re playing a next-gen title but it’s also noticeable that the capacities of the Xbox One have not been used entirely. Nonetheless, everything looks great and a world this size is due to have some minor flaws.

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Sound

Even though Geralt seems to have forgotten how to use intonation, the quality of the voice acting is superb. Seeing you will have to go through many conversations throughout your journey, it’s extremely important to make all conversations as pleasant or convincing as possible. There’s no real problem with overacting, which makes the conversations even more pleasant, as you will be pulled inside the story, instead of getting annoyed by unconvincing acting or annoying pitches.

The soundtrack to support the already great cast, is as soothing as it is adventurous. You’ll be accompanied by the right tune to carry you through many different situations. All in all, the music often serves as the right mood setter, to gain some piece of heart or to help you wade through the bodies of your evil foes.

Gameplay

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a western RPG game, much alike of games such as Dragon Age. Whilst both games may fall in the same genre, they are quite different. Nonetheless, the classic formula of going around, completing quests in order to gain enough experience remains intact.

When embarking upon your journey you will first have to find Yennefer, in the first area in which you can move freely (The White Orchard). In here you’ll get to start following the main quest, as well as smaller, easier side-quests allowing you to learn the ropes of all your different skills and abilities. Whilst many of these quests are simple enough, the controls will take some time getting used to.

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It becomes clear right off the bat, that the side-quests are often quite similar. You’ll have to use your special ‘Witcher senses’, which allows you to see things normal human cannot. When using this power, you will be able to track down your foes, find hidden clues or see objects with which you can interact. Many of the side quests start off this way, be it a fetch or kill quest. Even though this is all pretty standard mumbo-jumbo for RPG games, having to use your senses to do the same thing over and over can get tedious at times.

If you still want more than the main quests and the side-quests, you will be able to find certain points of interest scattered around the different areas in which you can run around freely. When getting close to these points, other events will happen, such as being ambushed by a large amount of enemies, finding a protected treasure and so on. A fun extra, if you’re truly someone who loves vanquishing evil wherever you go. If you like exploring early on, it might be safe to save your progress a lot, if you don’t want to see all of it lost when you die. Especially if it has been a while since the last autosave.

As you’ll often have to go from point A towards point B on the quite massive areas the game has to offer, you can use your trusty horse ‘Roach’ in order to travel faster. If you wish to go even quicker, you can use specific landmarks (travel poles) which transport you from one pole to another. Except for some loading when doing this, it can easily save some time, if you’re aiming for a shorter gaming session. If you decide to go by horse, you’ll be able to explore more but you will also be exposed to the many dangers that lurk within the shadows. That being said, we all know a horse will not respond the same way as your normal character, but it often feels like you’re maneuvering a tank through an ant farm, hoping not to squash a single ant.

Being a Witcher means you’ve been hardened due to the many battles you have been in. This means combat will be another key element of the game. Whilst the signs (spells) you are able to use, can be cast quite fluently, fighting with your swords is quite clunky. Spells can be switched between by pressing the left bumper on your controller, which will immediately also slow down time, giving you a bit of extra time to choose the right sign for the battle/situation at hand. Sword fighting is done by choosing which blade you wish to use (left or right on the D-pad) but it often feels a bit irresponsive when in the middle of combat. Aiming precisely with your swords also feels a tad tedious, as well as parrying. Nonetheless, you will get the hang of it after a few play sessions.

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Of course, having to go on an arduous journey will require you to be strong enough to survive. Getting stronger has to be done by completing quests, which will give you experience points, which in turn will allow your level to rise. When you level up, you will be able to invest different skill points in different skill trees, such as Combat, Signs (spells), Alchemy or General (passive). Keep in mind to think about which direction you wish to go, as you will only be able to equip a limited amount of skills to aid you on your quest. You’ll even have to equip the passive skills, which will make choosing even harder.

If you’re a crafter, you might be in for a treat as well, as the Witcher 3 has a decent amount of crafting options to offer. One of your primary skills is Alchemy, which is basically brewing potions, beverages as well as ‘mutagens’ which you can use in your skill equip screen to gain some extra passive bonuses. On the other hand you’ll have the typical blacksmithing options, which are nonetheless rather complex. Both types of crafting will require the right materials, which can be picked (up), scavenged or looted throughout the world and you will also require the right recipes or plans to construct/brew the desired item. As the expansive world has a lot of areas you will be able to explore, you’ll surely be able to spend a lot of time looking for items you wish to use for your next contraption.

Last but not least, as Wild Hunt is a story driven game, you’ll have to do a lot of talking, that will guide you through the game. These interactions with other characters will nearly always give you several options of choosing your next move. You are able to barter for quest rewards, be a nice guy and refuse a reward, piss off those who you are speaking with, be a total douche and so on. These choices often have an impact on how the conversation will flow or what will happen next. If you’re bartering with a band of evildoers and you keep choosing to piss them off, they might just try to kill you, but agreeing with them, or taking over their minds with one of your skills, might prove to be a more peaceful solution.

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Conclusion

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an amazing game but it’s clear some downgrades have happened and some minor improvements could have been made. Nonetheless, you will have hours and hours of fun, clearing the main quest, the side-quests, events and exploring the massive world. You’ll be enticed by a great storyline that is on par with great adventure tales and above all it all looks great, with a few minor beauty flaws along the way. All in all, a great title, that will surely please many gamers. However, be warned: You’ll have to put on your best suit of armor to survive this Wild Hunt.

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Rating: 9.4/10 (5 votes cast)
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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Review, 9.4 out of 10 based on 5 ratings

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  1. […] more on The Witcher III : Witch Hunt and the Hearts of Stone expansion, be sure to check out our […]

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