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Oh hun, such a drama queen.

Valenka

Contributor
CRank: 10Score: 93730

User Review : The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Ups
  • Massive, non-linear open world
  • Wonderful cast of characters that tell a brilliant story
  • Deep roleplaying and phenomenal combat
Downs
  • Minor to moderate bugs

A milestone, in more ways than one

It isn’t every day that I experience something so grand that I want to do little else with my time, so naturally, when The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was announced, I got a little too excited. I couldn’t tell you with certainty how much time I poured into its predecessor, but it was an absolutely memorable experience that was the source of many good moods. When compared to Assassin of Kings, the third installment of the franchise starts off at a rather slow pace, even if it is just to show versatility toward newcomers to the series. You aren’t flung head-first into the world like before, true, but it’s still an enjoyable introduction and like a refresher course in case you’ve had the silver wolf medallion off for too long.

Our story this time around follows Geralt as he shadows the trail left behind by his lost-love, Yennefer, and soon learns that his surrogate daughter and fellow witcher, Ciri, is in pending harm at the hands of the Wild Hunt, a group of specters said to be an omen of misfortune and death. At a glance, the main story seems to revolve around Geralt performing trivial tasks in exchange for information regarding Ciri’s whereabouts, but it’s done in a manner that hardly gets tedious and offers numerous, interesting side stories. It is a dense, captivating and addictive experience that truly parts the sea of roleplaying games and stands on a well-deserved pedestal.

It’s a completely non-linear experience that encourages you to step off the beaten path and discover what the world has to offer and in turn, giving you further aid in your journey. Depending on your decisions in The Witcher 2 (which can be recreated via dialogue early in the game if you haven’t played the last game), there will be a handful of returning characters that offer additional quests and provide more interesting stories, ranging from underground turf wars between gangs in the bigger cities, unveiling assassination plans, and opportunities to develop personal relationships and useful alliances. In addition to your standard side-quests, Geralt can take on monster-hunting contracts to help the community and earn extra coin. Monsters in these contracts can range from women murdered the day of their wedding and turned into violently angry wraiths to winged beasts that threaten the well-being of village outskirts. Taking on these contracts prove to be one of the most effective ways to earn your income in a pseudo-opportune economy.

These monster hunts not only provide a source of income, but the inspiration and encouragement to venture out of the comfort of peasant communities and big cities. In lieu of this, you’re given interesting insights into the lands being destroyed by the war between the Temerians and Nilfgaardians, as well as the politics behind it. Similar to the civil war sub-plot in Skyrim, there’s the sub-plot of the war in the world of The Witcher. Your role in the plot won’t shift the main story in an immense fashion, but even the subtlest of choices can change something noticeably. There’s no meter to determine good or evil, just cause and effect, and the decisions you make can actually change the world around you.

Character progression and equipment availability serve the ultimate purpose, of course, and the system is certainly more accessible in some ways and more intricate in other ways, when compared to the game’s predecessor. Your methods of restocking potions, oils, decoctions, etc. have been simplified down to meditation; once you dabble in alchemy and craft potions and other useful consumables, Geralt can meditate to restock them—as well as pass time and regenerate health. I found it to be incredibly well done, considering that there is no rhyme or reason to the growth of herbs or their native locations. I found it a lot easier to locate an herbalist and purchase a bushel of celandine than track down and remember what region it can be found in. There’s also a handful of more useful potions than before, which can greatly improve combat capabilities or even grant you temporary, useful properties.

Speaking of combat, it’s been improved since the last game and is more brutal, fluid and responsive. It’s easily the most enjoyable combat I’ve experienced in a game so far, to the point that I look forward to battles, even when I’m in the mood for simple exploration. In combat, you can use a combination of light and heavy attacks, parry enemy strikes with precision, cast Signs for effective assistance and even take an arm or two with the occasional bouts of gory finishing moves.

Signs have been improved as well with a wider variety of upgrades, making them completely useful and sometimes even necessary. With specific upgrades, Geralt can fight in combat entirely with the witcher signs if done correctly, which I found to be a rather surprising and fascinating ability. The new skill system provides a great deal of versatility while still being functional, useful and not over or underpowered.

One of the more interesting – and daunting – diversions within the experience is a card game called Gwent. It is essentially a deck-building game that is a quest in itself and certainly the most difficult. The concept of the game is simple: build a strong deck of cards and defeat your opponent by strategically placing cards to have the highest strength rating. The difficult concept is tracking down the cards to build a strong collection, especially considering that some of the most useful cards are easily missable. Of course, you can start the game over from the beginning if you do, or save the collecting for your second playthrough.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt stands as an experience with an aim for quality and quantity; with a wonderfully overwhelming amount of quests, both critical to the narrative and secondary, I never once tired of the game. Since launch, I found myself unable to put the controller down and thoroughly enjoyed every moment. Even after seeing the narrative to the end, the world of Wild Hunt really keeps a hold on you, inspiring you to return and see what else the experience is offering. Depending on your play style, you might end up doing a majority of the side quests and exploration long before reaching the second act of the story. Conversely, you might finish the game without playing a single round of Gwent or completing a treasure hunt. But that’s where the lovely, non-linear aspects come into play; the only restrictions come by way of ability, so don’t expect to take on a significant enemy at rank level four or wear the best armor in the game at level five—but that is literally the only restriction. You can essentially go anywhere at any time and there’s multiple ways of getting there.

In terms of visual representation, I found The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to be on the next level of graphical excellence for this generation and truly highlight what should be expected. While it hasn’t exactly reached the same level of cinematic realism that put The Last of Us (and soon, Until Dawn) on a pedestal, one needs to take a step back and appreciate what CD Projekt Red have managed to accomplish in a game with such an overwhelmingly large world. It’s understandable to have CGI-relative graphics when there isn’t an open world waiting for your arrival at any time without a preliminary loading screen. In other words, while Wild Hunt doesn’t look like The Last of Us, there’s a lot more to it and still manages to have such brilliant visuals. The amount of detail in Wild Hunt has produced a truly magnificent sight to behold. Characters look stunning and the environments look captivating and react to the dynamic weather in a phenomenal way. Foliage dances with the heavy winds, sandy shorelines look damp and muddy during a storm and swamplands truly look muggy, humid and uncomfortable.

Voice acting is truly diverse and believable, never really feeling out of place. Peasants in the village outskirts speak in the typical slang and uncouth dialect, while more privileged townsfolk of Oxenfurt and Novigrad speak with more charm and elegance. I never once found the script or acting to feel forced, which really highlights immersive factors within the lore and setting. Geralt himself has moments in which he sounds almost robotic, which he coincidentally explains to another character that the witcher mutations stripped him of emotion, but has enough personality and character to not feel dull or tired.

To be honest, I found it hard to find anything so wrong with the game, it needed mentioning. Like with any open-world experience, especially roleplaying games, there are a handful of bugs to be worked out and the development team have been hard at work since launch, addressing the issues and distributing patches to rectify them. I, personally, haven't experienced anything game-breaking. For me, the one downside – which is come to be a forgivable occurrence – is the abundance of repetitive “go here, do this” side quests in order to enlist someone’s help. Like Commander Shepard once said, “Just once I'd like to ask someone for help and hear them say, 'Sure. Let's go. Right now. No strings attached.’” It comes with the territory though and while they are sometimes tedious, they never really feel cumbersome. The alleviating aspect is Geralt’s commentary, in which even he feels annoyed by the slightly trivial tasks of escorting someone’s esteemed goat just to get some information that didn’t seem worth the hassle.

Overall, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt truly delivers a brilliant experience that goes above and beyond in terms of quality, a rarity in an industry where the standard is the bare minimum. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt comes from a developer that refuses to conform and still believes in giving back to the fans, which is why new copies come with a thank you note, a real game manual (a huge, pleasant surprise there), a quaint companion guide, a copy of the soundtrack, a map of the game's lands and stickers. In addition, CD Projekt Red have sixteen (16) free DLC items being distributed weekly. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt isn’t just a great installment in the series, but as a fantastic standalone RPG for gamers outside of the series’ fan base. It also sets an example in the gaming industry by giving back to the gamers, without whom, the industry wouldn't even exist.

Score
10.0
Graphics
With some of the best visuals I've ever seen in a game period, it's quite amazing to see such gorgeous graphics in an open-world experience so vast in size and scope.
10.0
Sound
Voice acting is truly diverse and believable, never really feeling out of place; there's often downright hilarious moments. Sound effects are perfectly fitting and the music is utterly great.
10.0
Gameplay
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt offers quite a lot in terms of gameplay, with varied quests, brutal combat and some nice diversions like fist-fights, horse racing and gwent. I just wish there were more.
10.0
Fun Factor
Undeniably addictive and enjoyable, I find it incredibly difficult to put the controller down and is certainly the most entertaining game I've played so far.
Overall
10.0
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Valenka2247d ago (Edited 2065d ago )

Greetings, everyone! I hope you found the review an informative and enjoyable read. It's the first time I've given a game a "perfect" score - and quite well deserved in my opinion - so there's a milestone right there. As always, your feedback and opinions are welcomed and appreciated.

slappy5082247d ago (Edited 2247d ago )

I agree with the score. I finished it yesterday and I cant tell you that Ive never felt so sad to have finished a game. The side quests are f***ing incredible, and that sets it apart from other open world games. Of course I am going to play through it again, on Death March difficulty!

imtheman20132246d ago

Great review! This game really is a masterpiece. I've played it basically non-stop since the day it was released. Once it was all said and done, I checked my in-game time on the character stats menu... 8 days I'd been playing the game. That's more time than I spend with most multiplayer games, and I'm far from finished with it; still have many, MANY question marks left on the map.

I suppose my only complaint is that some of the bugs are trophy/achievement breaking. For instance, I am incapable of completing the 'Collect 'Em All' Gwent quest because not only is the innkeeper in White Orchard missing from my game, but a merchant in Claywich, who needs to be freed from a cage some ways east of the town, is forever locked in said cage because none of the guards drop the key that would free him. It's really disappointing, being that this is the last trophy I need for the platinum. Though, I'm hopeful that CDPR will patch these bugs out, or make the cards that these people sell available by other means.

All in all, though, one of the most fulfilling gaming experiences I've ever had. Bring on the rest of the DLC and expansions! :D

dmN_1142244d ago

You might have a glitch about the playtime. I don't know why but there is a glitch which adds lots of hours to your playtime for whatever reason. 8 days is really really alot :)

imtheman20132244d ago

Huh, I didn't know that. But I honestly wouldn't be surprised if I had been playing it for 8 days. The devs said that it would take about 200 hours to complete the game, and 8 days is just shy of that. Who knows though? All that really matters is that I played the hell out of this game and loved every second of it :^)

dmN_1142244d ago

Yeah I didn't know that too for a long time but when I encountered that climbing glitch and searched for it in the official forums of CDPR I read through this one which adds lots of hours of gameplay to your timer :D

Same here.
I lost lots of hours of gameplay but restarted and still love to play it. It is an awesome game.

dmN_1142244d ago (Edited 2244d ago )

Well it is your review and your score and I don't want to be "that guy" but first off. No game in the world should/could ever reach a perfect score.

Why?

No game is perfect. Simple as that.

I will just go through the main points because it would take too long to go into detail with a game this big :)

Graphics.
The Witcher 3 looks good. Sure it is a very big scope and maybe the biggest open world game(?) to date and I consider this too while talking about its graphics but it still has no "WOW" effect. It is a beautiful world with different settings and elements to it but still not worth a score of 10. 8-9 would be a good score in my book.

Sound.
Nearly completely agree with you here but there are some minor sound effect problems I encountered while playing. The best example would be the first missions with Triss. I won't spoil it but it is the mission involving RATS. There will be a scene where Triss holds her fire magic in her right hand and every time the camera pans to her you will hear the sound of the flame as if she just created that flame for the first time again and again. Minor bugs here so 9 points for sounds.

dmN_1142244d ago (Edited 2244d ago )

Gameplay.
Well there really are many things you can do with Geralt but none of them really function perfectly. I'll go through some points here.

MINOR/GAME BREAKING BUGS
The Witcher 3 is a damn big game with lots of things to do in it so it is tolerable to encounter minor bugs but not if you get one which "breaks" the game like the climbing-bug. As the name says this bug (no idea how or when it happenes but it happened to me while doing the big GWENT tournament quest) makes Geralt forget how to grab on ledges or jump over little boxes which makes some quests uncompleatable or can even trap you in a cave where you have to climb up to get out again. You will be trapped there till a patch comes out which fixes this bug without having any chance to complete the game. If you are lucky and noticed that phenomen to not climb anymore you can load your last save game and lose some progression but if you didn't all you can do is wait for the patch or start a new game like I did after losing about 60-70 hours of gameplay. Unacceptable.

SWIMMING: Well diving and surface...It doens't work as well as intendet if you turn your camera abit too much down or up and Geralt will do some "rolling" in the water so it is better to just don't use these comands and swim up-downwards while positioning the camera to that direction.

COMBAT: You discribed it as "phenomenal combat" but I really really have to disagree. The combat is way better than the previous games sure but movement is so bad and the fact that you can't switch manually form "combat-mode" to "normal-mode" is at times frustrating especially if you don't want to fight. I once fell into a small puddle and couldn't get out of it because Geralt won't use his normal jump but roll or dodge and the enemies didn't want to get near him (so I could kill them and get out of "combat-mode") so I was stuck there for a long time. It's bad desing to not be able to switch "combat" modes. [Or did I miss something and you can switch on/off ???]

HORSE RIDING/RACING: Well I am no game developer but sometimes I just get sick of calling Roach and take a ride on its back because it will suddently stop, run into trees without stopping while I try to get onto the road again but without success because some trees are like fangs and won't let you get away till you stop and make a 90/180 degree turn and mounting the horse takes so much time sometimes that I don't want to bother anymore.

GWENT: Best thing that happened to this game :D It's is a damn fine minigame.

Well that's it for gameplay so I would give it a max of 7-8 points.

Fun Factor.
The game is really addictive because it's compelling story and great designed quests. Even mini quests or sidequests all have a meaning and it absorbs you into the world of the Witcher and you want to learn more and more about what happened to all those people. It is not your average fetch quest for sure. Really well designed and I applaud CDPR for that. Mad respect.
And did I tell that Gwent is damn fun ?!?!?
9-10 points easily.

I think thats it for short :D

So all in all this game would get about 8-8.5 points in my book which makes this game still a great game.

coolbeans2244d ago

I'm always surprised to see how often people instantly attribute 10/10 with meaning "perfect." Sure, taken on just the number itself, it could seem like that's a natural translation of the score; however, the 'downs' listed already acknowledges minor to moderate bugs so that's not what the score means in this context.

I've yet to come across a posted game review on here, by critics, etc. that attributes a 10/10 to mean 'perfect' by the reviewer either.

imtheman20132244d ago (Edited 2244d ago )

This is the main reason I don't like scoring games on a number scale. People like to think that if a game gets a 10/10 then it's a 'perfect' game. Obviously, there will never be a perfect game because so many different types of games exist, with so many different criteria for what makes those specific games good.

I'd rather score a game with a letter or something. Saying a game is an 'A' game seems more appropriate to me, but even this has its flaws. Really, I like the way that Kotaku rates games: they simply tell the reader whether or not they should buy the game, try the game, or pass on it. And in the end, that's what the consumer wants to know, whether or not a particular video game is worth their dollars.

dmN_1142244d ago (Edited 2244d ago )

I can undersand what you mean and that is why a game/movie etc. should never ever get a score of 10 out of 10.

As you said yourself it is not perfect because of minor bugs you listed yourself thats why it shouldn't get the "perfect score" which in this case is the 10 out of 10.

I don't know what is so surprising :/
It is a metric and a full score means it is perfect ?!

@imtheman2013
I agree with you that scores are bad for games since it can never express the game itself. Sadly people are just hungry for scores and makes great games become unseccessful just because it has a low score.

But to this comment of yours
"People like to think that if a game gets a 10/10 then it's a 'perfect' game."

Well it is not that people like to think that a 10/10 means perfect because that metric 10 out of 10 is exactly the definition of being perfect. The fault lies within the world of the gaming journalists giving out scores which they can't really back up.

Scores are meaningless. Giving out 10s should not be allowed. I would even be OK if it is a 9.9/10.

LightofDarkness2244d ago (Edited 2244d ago )

10/10 just means it's the best example of its kind/genre to date, and a landmark achievement in gaming. It's reserved for your Ocarina of Time/FFVII/MGS3 level games. Things that push the medium forward and are almost universally loved. Stop getting so hung up on what YOU think the numbers mean. He's already explained to you what they mean in his own context, it's not your place to come in here and tell him otherwise. Don't like it? Write your own review.

coolbeans2243d ago

@dmN_114

"As you said yourself it is not perfect because of minor bugs you listed yourself thats why it shouldn't get the "perfect score" which in this case is the 10 out of 10. "

Seems like there's been a communication breakdown on the intention of why I repeated the 'downs' listed in the review. I didn't say that to point out Valenka's misuse of the score but YOUR misinterpretation of it--which admittedly isn't helped when Val uses the term "perfect score" either.

Speaking for me personally, I don't see the big deal of having a full 0-10 score rating akin to how Ebert did No stars/Thumb Down to 4/4 stars. In each artistic medium, videogames especially, you're inherently dealing with faults of some kind. For today's games, there's practically no chance every line of code in today's typical game will be combed through to perfection. With this in mind, I'd contend it takes a little bit of wind out of any developer or dev team if I were to suggest "there's no way you're making a 10/10 game" based on some unrealistic measurement of true perfection.

If they've blown the mind of said gamer to the point where any faults did virtually nothing to hinder the wonderful time he/she had...why not let he/she use such a treasured score for THEIR review?

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Michiel19892239d ago

A game can get a perfect score, it just doesn´t mean it´s the perfect game. What it does mean, is that the game is as good as it can get given the limitations (hardware, innovation, storytelling, controls etc).

AshHD2244d ago

I've been most enamored with many of the games non-essential questlines thus far.

The Baron's, for example, took me across most of Velen and told an incredible story that was completely detached from the main plot. Even taking a scrap of paper from a noticeboard in some backwater town can lead to a story as enthralling as it is unpredictable, which is itself a great testament to the depth of the games writing.

The Witcher III isn't just Geralt's story though, it's the collective tale of an impoverished, monster-laden, war-torn land as seen from his neutral perspective, which paints a picture as bleak as it is beautiful.

I haven't been as wrapped up in a game as the Witcher III since Dragon Age Inquisition. Your review was excellent, and captured most of my feelings towards the Witcher III perfectly. A great review all round.

Blacklash932243d ago (Edited 2243d ago )

Nice review. It is a very, very good game.

Gotta disagree with the combat point, though. It's okay and enjoyable, but the balance and movements still need some work. It's better than The Witcher 2, for sure, but still a bit rough. (I have similar thoughts on Gwent. The Hero Cards and AI are making it hard to lose, and I'm a bit bored with it right now.)

Other than that, I'm really impressed with the quality of the game. A freakishly large amount of effort went into the optional quests, the presentation is truly top-notch for an RPG, and the detailed world is well-crafted and rewarding to explore. As cliché as it sounds, The Witcher 3 really feels next-gen.

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