Backlog Slog – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Welcome to the first Backlog Slog of 2018! Back from taking a break, I did not play nearly as many video games as I should have. I did, on the up side, start The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. After the huge disappointment that was The Witcher, and the pretty good game that was The Witcher 2, my hopes for the third game in the series were up in the air. I didn’t know what to expect. I remembered all the hubbub surrounding its release and the many, many GOTY awards it won, but that’s pretty much all I knew about it.

This game sees Geralt, now with all his memories returned, is summoned by a King to find his daughter. And it just so happens this King’s daughter is Geralt’s adopted daughter (it’s complicated, kind of), and said King needs her for… Something between ‘politics’ and ‘she’s magic’. So, with this in mind, Geralt sets out on a journey to find where she is, what she’s been doing since she mysteriously disappeared, and to also slay a lot of monsters along the way.

If I had to immediately compare it to another game, my first instinct would be to say, ‘you know Dragon Age: Inquisition? It’s like that, but better’. I say that because it’s open world in a way that’s accessible, with the world being divided into smaller areas that each have towns, places to explore, that kind of thing, rather than being thrown into the entire world and told to have fun and find your own way. Which, I suppose it’s personal preference, but for me I tend to find it overwhelming and never know what to tackle first.

The Witcher 3 offers several clear paths to take, and each path will lead you through a town or two which will have its own side quests and monster contracts which all lead you on to the next main plot point and series of side quests. Or, you can ignore that and go find quests and the like at your own pace in your own order.

 

With each set of quests, the map is also lit up with large ? marks in order to highlight points of interest, whether they’re caves, monster nests, lost treasure, or something else. Which is also super helpful as opposed to stumbling around the map blindly. The smaller maps also ensure that there’s plenty to see and do, with no parts of the map feeling empty or dull.

Essentially, the game always makes sure you’re doing something, and it’s very good at making sure that something is fun.

Though one thing that has become much more difficult in this entry is alchemy. Where the series relies on Geralt having potions, bombs and oils ready at hand, this game still wants you to do that but also makes finding things a little more difficult. You can no longer loot everything you need within 5 minutes and make more bombs than you could ever need. I’ve been playing for 13 hours and only now am I able to start readily making a few bombs, but I have yet to find enough ingredients to make potions and the like. Though combat is a little more balanced, allowing me to get away with it for the most part.

Which is great, because combat is incredibly fluid and has a lot more of a focus on parries and counters, which means skill and timing can benefit a player as much as any blade oil.

Of course, what Witcher 3 review is complete without mentioning Gwent. For those that don’t know, Gwent is the ingame card game. It’s difficult to describe the rules, but suffice to say, I get why everyone thinks this is just as good as the main game and it’s getting its own standalone release. I am very bad at it. Again, 13 hours in and I’m only just kind of picking up the rules solidly now which means I’m playing it more. I don’t know how many of those hours is just Gwent, and how many more hours I will spend on Gwent, but it will be a lot.

In the perfect world, the final boss wold just be a round of Gwent.

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