There are few role-playing games out there that truly capture the essence of what an RPG is intended to achieve. To transport you to another world, dimension, fantasy realm and put you in the boots of a character you would’ve never been otherwise. It makes the impossible possible by allowing you to walk through the streets of a medieval town filled with elves and dwarves, magic and mythical creatures.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the first RPG to truly capture the meaning of its genre and pull you into a world that you’ll never want to leave. The only reason you’ll want to turn it off is because you’re too tired to continue on. Even monster hunters need to rest at some point! CD Projekt Red has pushed the next generation of consoles to their absolute limit and produced the pinnacle of modern-day RPGs.
The world of the Witcher 3 is beautifully crafted, no nook and cranny left out. It’s a world that beckons to be explored. Simply call upon your trusty horse who is just one whistle away and set off on the adventure of a lifetime. No matter what you see on the horizon, there’s something there to discover. Sprawling cities and monstrous-filled caves await, or you can dive beneath the surface of the ocean in search of forgotten shipwrecks and lost treasure. Bandits prey upon unfortunate merchants along the road and pirates patrol the seas around the Skellige islands. The land is shrouded in mystery and rich in adventure. The path you traverse is the one of your choosing.
This is a brutal world that almost feels like something out of Game of Thrones. It’s unforgiving and willing to back-stab you at any moment. Kings feud for more land, politicians have a hidden agenda and can be bribed for assistance against your enemies, and fanatic cults wage an underground war to drive magic out of the world. There’s a lot going on that will often clash with your path, forcing you to pick sides. But you’ll need to choose wisely since every dialogue option you pick will drastically change the ending of the game, in which there are over 300 variations for 36 different endings.
The world you help shape may be completely different from the one your friend ends up with. It’s a world that truly evolves and changes in accordance to the decisions you make and the people you cross. So choose your allies wisely, else your enemies may quickly begin to stir up trouble for you. It’s a complex game with natural consequences and hundreds of subplots that all connect in some fashion during the epilogue.
Yet the main story you follow in this stunning role-playing game is the one thing that holds it back from achieving absolute perfection. Players will once again reprise the role of the professional monster hunter, Geralt of Rivia, who for mysterious reasons is tasked with finding a child of prophesy. This child, Ciri, is like a daughter to Geralt who he helped raise when she was a child, training her in the ways of a Witcher.
The story leaves too many questions unanswered…
Where Ciri came from and why she is so important however remains a confusing mess for much of the game, and it’s not until you reach the conclusion of the story that some of the missing pieces begin to come together. But many questions are still left unanswered and CD Projekt Red did a poor job in convincing the players why they should be searching for her in the first place, who the Wild Hunt is (those trying to kill Ciri), and why your relationships with some of the characters in the game are so significant.
While the story picks up shortly where The Witcher 2 left off, only a handful of familiar faces return and the many new ones felt as if they were forced into the game and pushed towards certain outcomes and decisions. During your search for Ciri however, the cumbersome task begins to grow on you as it’s a never-ending cycle of receiving information on her whereabouts in exchange for helping them with their own problems. You feel like you’re doing the same kind of quest over and over again throughout the 40 or so hours it takes to complete the game’s main storyline.
An entire world awaits…
Where the game truly shines is in its ability to make adventure fun. I often found myself skipping the option to fast travel from quest to quest in favor of walking or riding there myself on horseback. CD Projekt Red did an amazing job at creating a world that truly feels like it was made for next generation systems. They’ve accomplished what so many other developers have failed to do. The world of The Witcher is visually nuanced and organic, a true fantasy world that feels real.
A dynamic weather system simulates day and night in real-time and affects how different monsters of the wilds behave, or how the citizens of the town will act. Taverns will begin to fill up for the evening’s entertainment and drunkards will line the streets, creating havoc for the local guards. The game even has a dynamic beard growth system, meaning Geralt’s beard will grow longer and longer as you travel between regions. If you want to shave it, you’ll need to visit a barber to do so.
But you’re a Witcher after all, one who’s been mutated to hunt down the savage beasts that prowl on the countryside. It’ll be up to you to hunt them down with your superhuman skills and wide range of weapons, mutating potions, and combat magic. All this is done in return for payment. Witchers’ show no emotion. If they aren’t being paid, chances are they’ll ignore your plea for help and move on. Money, or crowns, can be used to upgrade your weaponry and purchase custom armour, or you could spend them away in horse races, card games, fist fighting, and other pleasures of the night.
The Witcher 3 also introduces a couple of new mechanics to the series such as witcher-sense, combat on horseback, swimming underwater, and using a crossbow. Geralt is also able to climb and vault over obstacles. The new witcher-sense feature can be comparable to Assassin Creed’s eagle vision mechanic. It’ll highlight enemies and quest related objects/elements, or the tracks of an enemy or beast you’re hunting.
With a world described as “20% bigger than Skyrim’s,” The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is no small game to overlook. An unforgettable adventure awaits for you in the world of The Witcher. If you can overlook the faults of the game’s plot, this is the RPG every fan of the genre has longed for.
Hundreds of hours of side quests await, all wonderfully voiced out by the game’s talented acting crew. It’s challenging to finish the game’s story with so many distractions around you and I highly encourage you to check them out. There are political conspiracies and monster hunting bounties at every turn in the Witcher 3. CD Projekt Red’s Wild Hunt is the nearest thing the games industry has to a perfect RPG.