Released: May 2015
Developer: CD Projekt Red
Also Available For: PlayStation 4, PC, and Nintendo Switch
A Brief Background:
So, I’d heard of The Witcher III: Wild Hunt for a while now; my Twitter feed was full of praise for the game for some time and, even now, it crops up as being a really good, immersive combat/role-playing experience. Similarly, I’ve heard nothing but praise for the Netflix series, The Witcher (2019 to present), particularly for its portrayal of main character Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), its violence, and its sex scenes. Given that I’m currently in lockdown due to the fact that the world has gone mad, I’ve started watching The Witcher and, while I’m only about six episodes in, I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far. With all that in mind, and at the urging of many of my peers, I decided to download The Witcher III: Wild Hunt as it’s currently on Xbox Game Pass. However, because I have a massive backlog at the moment and still have work to do at home, I can’t devote my entire focus to the game so I’m just going to briefly talk though my initial impressions of the game and leave it up to you guys to decide if I should make the time to continue playing.
One of the reasons I hesitated to play The Witcher III: Wild Hunt sooner was simply that fact that I hadn’t played the previous games, am not familiar with The Witcher (Sapkowski, 1993 to 2013) series of fantasy novels, and I don’t really have the time to immerse myself fully into a layered role-playing experience. I should stress that I have only played about an hour or so of the game, and was skipping through the impressively-realised cutscenes in order to get straight to the gameplay but, from what I pieced together Geralt is a mutated monster-hunter, a Witcher, who is on a quest to located his adopted daughter, Ciri. From what I experienced, it seems the narrative jumps from a time in Geralt’s past (which acts as a convenient tutorial for the game’s mechanics) and a more tumultuous time in the present, where Geralt is far more cold and stoic.
Geralt can use his enhanced senses to scan his environment and interact with other characters and objects, this is necessary to find loot and other useful items that can be used to heal Geralt or crafted in what I am assuming is quite a layered crafting system. Combat is a simple, yet surprisingly complex affair; Geralt can target an enemy and attack with his sword using light and strong swipes. He can block and, with successful timing, parry incoming attacks and also use both throwing weapons (like bombs) and a range of magic (known as Signs) to protect himself or attack his enemies. Soon after completing the tutorial (which involved a bit of free-running around a town, where I accidentally leapt off too high a ledge and died…), you skip ahead in time and take control of a more seasoned Geralt, who is accompanied by his fellow Witcher, Vesemir. This is where you learn how to control Geralt’s horse, Roach, which looks to be your primary mode of transport, and battle monsters that roam the world map on your way to the first town, White Orchard, where you can visit a shop to sell and purchase items, take on various side quests, and interact with other characters using the game’s intricate dialogue wheel.
As I said, I only played for about an hour and, even then, I was rushing a bit as I was pushed for time. I literally made it to White Orchard, popped into a tavern, saved my game, and had to stop playing. However, even in that brief bit of time, it is clear how large and sprawling the scope of The Witcher III: Wild Hunt is; not only do you have multiple options to pick from when talking to other characters, but there are many side quests and additional concerns that crop up as you pursue the main story mode and also a lot to occupy yourself with in terms of crafting and item management. One thing I did like was the non-playable characters will react differently to you whether your sword is sheathed or not; during the tutorial, it was a sign that I wanted to spar and, in White Orchard, townsfolk would flee as I slaughtered their chickens and cows. Clearly, there’s a lot to get to grips with in The Witcher III: Wild Hunt and it’s not really a videogame geared towards a casual player or a quick run-through, as I did here. I’ve hardly scratched the surface of what the game has to offer and I’m already intimidated and, considering I have quite a backlog to work through, I’m not sure that I’ll be returning to Geralt’s adventures any time soon.
What do you think of The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, and The Witcher series? Would you recommend putting the hours into mastering everything this game has to offer or do you feel that it was a bit over-rated? Whatever you think let me know in the comments.