Geralt of Rivia is back! The Witcher is one of my favourite games of all time and now we have a third installment in this RPG series.
Based on a book series from Poland, this series tells the story about Geralt – one of the witchers roaming the lands, making a living by killing and chasing away monsters that pester the people. The witchers are fighting machines who drink potions and mutate their bodies in order to handle the dangers they meet. They become emotionless and sterile – never able to concieve children. You play Geralt, a famed beastkiller whose name is known by many. Geralt is a cynical man with a dark view on the world, and my best try to describe him is as a mix of brutal mercenary and noir detective.
The setting is a fantasy medieval world with magic and alchemy as well as inquisitions and elven resistance movements.
The first game in the series introduced the world, Geralt, his friends, and the political groups (who are more or less violent). In the first game Geralt has lost his memory and is investigating a secret organization who has launched an attack on the witchers.
In the second game, Geralt is suspected of killing the Temerian king. This is the beginning of an intricate plot where Geralt becomes a pawn in the political game while trying to help his friend and lover, Triss Merigold.
Which finally bring us to this last and final game – Witcher 3, the Wild Hunt. It’s a freestanding game so even if you are new to the series you can jump right in and start playing.
I have been looking forward to this game since I finished Witcher 2 and I was worried I would be disappointed. I am glad to say I am not.
Just like in the previous two games, Witcher 3 is all about consequences and difficult choices. The choices you make, even the smallest ones, affect the world. You will shape the world and the people around you (unlike Skyrim, where the world stays static no matter what quests you finish or what choices you make). I also like that there are no perfect “good” or “evil” choices as in many other RPG’s – instead the choices you make are ethically difficult with many shades of gray.
I also really like the characters of Witcher 3. In the previous games (Witcher 1 more than Witcher 2), Geralt was often a hard-boiled stereotypical macho man and the women he met were beautiful damsels in distress or dangerous femme fatales. In Witcher 3, he shows a wider range of emotions and the people he meet are also deeper – both men and women. We also get to see his fatherly insticts for the first time, which I enjoy immensely.
Graphically the game is gorgeous. I play on a computer that is a few years old with minimum requirements, but it still looks great. If you are from the north yourself you will feel at home in the castles, cities, wooden homes, and pine tree forests. I can almost smell the grit and dirt when I run around in the cities as well as the cold air and biting wind when a storm approaches. It is lovely made.
So far (when writing this I have made it to act 2, level 17) I also love the story, mainly because of the people I meet and the way that the world is shaped by my choices. The ESRB rating is Mature – for very good reasons. The story is dark and shows both the best and the worst parts of humanity.
One thing that does bug me is that some of the people we meet or hear about in Witcher 3 are very important to Geralt, but there has been no mention of them in the previous games (only in the book series).
An important part of Witcher 3 (much like the previous games) is the crafting system where you can make witcher potions and bombs to help you in fights or exploration. You can also make other equipment such as swords or armor. So far, the strongest gear I have gotten is through crafting. I actually find this a bit boring – fighting strong enemies is less exciting when I can’t look forward to some neat loot for killing them.
My least favourite part of the game is combat and movement. I have tried playing the game with both keyboard+mouse as well as with an xbox controller. In the end I favoured the controller so that is what I have been using in most of the game. I find combat is a bit random – I am more worried running into a group of what should be easily dispatched drowners than I am when facing a single high-level griffin.
There are some key tactics involved; Using signs (simple magic that the witcher are able to use) is very important and it took me a while to realize what a life-saver the magical shield was. Some enemies are near-impossible to defeat without spells or bombs (wights in particular – ugh!).
If you are a new player, don’t underestimate the power of witcher potions. Using cat in dark caves or drinking swallow in fights will make a big difference.
All in all, Witcher 3 is a very good game and you should play it. I was however appalled with the price on Steam so I ended up buying a physical copy online – all CDs come with a key to GoG.