The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the latest installment in a series of games taking place in a fantasy world known as the Continent. Here, humans, elves, demons, dwarves, and many other creatures live in acrimony with one another.
The player takes the perspective of Geralt of Riva, a specialized hunter of monsters known as a witcher. Your goal is simple: find Ciri, another witcher whom you had trained many years ago.
As in former Witcher games, the initial plot points double as a tutorial for those who may not be familiar with this world. You have five Signs, a kind of magic that is unique to Witchers and carry various powers such as fire casting and mind control.
You carry two swords, one silver and one steel, to use depending on your enemy. Also, you have two different attack types, fast and slow, which work better or worse against different mob types.
Crafting is a big part of The Witcher 3. As you make your way through the world, you find various pieces of junk and might be tempted to sell them off for low reward to the closest buyer. It’s far more worth it to find a blacksmith who will break these down for you into their component parts.
With those components you can build new and better weapons and armor for your witcher, and you can do it at the same blacksmith doing the disassembling. Just make sure you keep an eye on your inventory weight limit. All those parts and alchemy ingredients can really weigh you down over time, and you don’t want to deal with weight limit penalties.
While the story may not be particularly deep, the world-building certainly is. As you crawl through this sprawling open map, you find various creatures, treasures, and side quests galore.
The game’s own creators have estimated that you could spend upwards of 200 hours exploring the many different quests and paths that spider-web outward in a pattern fans of Dragon Age: Inquisition might recognize.
Some of these side quests are simple. A villager may ask you to go hunt down a pack of wolves bothering the villagers.
But some are impossibly complex, such as when a Baron asks you to track down the mother and daughter he “lost.” As it turns out, they ran away of their own free will due to the Baron’s violence. He had beaten his wife so badly she lost her child, and that unborn child turned into a demon that haunts his home.
That quest is a perfect example of how nuanced this game can be. You have several choices in it. Are you going to tell the Baron where his family is, or go against what is essentially your job as a witcher? Are you going to kill the demon that this child became or are you going to try and set it free?
You may not be able to create who Geralt is, but through your choices you do get to decide what kind of witcher he is.
The real pitfall of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is, unfortunately, its plot. The majority of it is a glorified dungeon crawl interspersed with predictable, if gorgeous, storytelling interludes.
For most games, this isn’t a problem. And The Witcher 3 more than makes up for this with its diverse gameplay, graphics, and a sea of side quests you can get lost in. But an RPG should have a strong story, and this one simply doesn’t.
Another negative to The Witcher 3 is the way it treats women. While several of the characters are powerful women, they seem to mostly exist for the sexual enjoyment of Geralt, the player, or both.
Even Ciri, one of the leading characters and an established fighter, spends the entirety of the game in a partially unbuttoned top with her bra showing. Sexism in the world of video games isn’t entirely unexpected, but it’s disappointing when it happens nonetheless.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC by way of the Microsoft or Steam stores. Also, it’s coming in October to Nintendo Switch. And, there’s a Game of the Year version available that comes pre-loaded with all DLC content for a discounted price, making this game both easy and affordable to pick up. For that reason, along with a few others already mentioned here, The Witcher 3 is at least worth picking up to take for a test drive.
If what you’re looking for is a deep story-driven game, this isn’t it. But if you’re a fan of the action RPG sub-genre, you’re likely to enjoy it. At the very least, check out that Baron quest. It’s a good weird time.