It’s difficult to review a story-driven RPG with only 9 hours on the clock. By their very nature they are huge, sprawling experiences that need dedication and at least a weekend to immerse yourself in the world.
I’m definitely enjoying the Witcher 3, you’re pulled in to the world from the beginning. I missed out on the first two games, so I was entering it completely fresh. I still don’t know what a Witcher actually is, but I like that people pay me to kill things and occasionally be a fantasy Sherlock Holmes.
The lore of Witcher 3 is built up from the ground, which is good for me. I’m sure there are references to previous games thread in to the conversations, such as with the Bloody Baron, and I appreciate that I’m being introduced to Geralt this way.
I’ve also found the current story engaging, although the dialogue options can sometimes go in directions I wasn’t expecting. In the same way as the lore, threads of your actions follow you on your travels – when I first came to Velen, I made the mistake of immediately causing a bar brawl. In a different reload, I avoided violence and eventually found this choice catch up with me in my hunt for Ciri.
There are a variety of quests to embark upon, most picked up from the noticeboards in towns. I enjoy following the breadcrumbs for a story, and particularly like the ‘investigation’ steps – using your Witcher senses to pick out clues and interesting objects, building up your understanding as you progress. This aspect helped guide me to the side quests, through the Devil in the Well quest. Using the bestiary and alchemy to prepare for a foe readies you as much as it does Geralt.
As expansive as the maps are – and they look brilliant all in-between – the points of interests seem few and far along the way, sometimes straying far from the path to find a Point of Power. You can pick up a quest here and be on the other side of the map before you’ve finished the first objective. But the game does push you towards straying from the path with game tips in loading screens, to reap the best rewards from the world.
The same large gap can be seen in the levels, it seems like a big undertaking to level up, even in the early game. I’m still a bit wary of secondary quests, there seems to be a big jump in recommended levels between the first two zones, with stronger enemies in larger numbers.
That said, the ‘boss’ enemies you’ll encounter are challenging and interesting. I’ve only managed a few so far, but it’s tested my (admittedly low) skill. The ‘signs’ you can use are interesting, but I keep forgetting to use them in the heat of battle. This tends to lead to leaping left and right, swinging a little madly and generally disgracing myself as a professional Witcher.
I’ve only come across one quest as Ciri so far, which was a bit of a disconnect for me – I might need to march down to the blacksmith and demand a new sword, but she definitely felt more powerful in her section than I do in the main experience. Still, they tweaked her combat away from Geralt’s, which made it feel interesting.
I really like this game, I think it’s an awesome experience and I’ve enjoyed it so far. It’s definitely something you can sink your teeth into and needs to be played with hours to spare. I’ll keep at it, take my own advice to stray from the beaten path and take on some of those sidequests hidden away in my quest log. I’m not surprised that The Witcher 3 has been nominated for 166 Game of the Year Awards (allegedly) and I’m looking forward to being able to pick up Hearts of Stone in the future!