Every RPG likes to go out with a bang, and when it comes to big budget open world releases, the results tend to be spectacular. With Dragon Age: Inquisition we had Trespasser, which gave much needed closure to many characters while setting up its sequel. With Fallout 4 we recently had Far Harbour, which took players to a vastly new land and offered a far more dynamic situation than the relatively black and while conflict against the Institute. With Skyrim, there was Dragonborn which transported players to a Cthulian realm and delved deep into the world's history. Yet all of them pale before CD Projekt RED's final hurrah to the Witcher franchise.
The story here sees Geralt transported to a vastly different land from the Northern Realms, Skellige or Oxenfurt, and instead takes place in the land of Toussaint. Untouched by the war, it is governed by knightly orders and chivalry, yet there is a dark curse behind it the witcher has been hired to resolve...
Toussaint itself is easily one of the expansion's greatest strengths, offering a bright, vibrant and colourful realm to contrast with the brutal, grey visuals of the north. There's a real sense of life to the place as you traverse the cities and surrounding forests, and a real sense of exploration as you seek out secrets hidden between quests. While the thirty hour main story is fantastically well told, the staggering amount of content hidden away is what will draw many players into sinking hours on end into this one. Pulling out all the stops to make this a testament to their franchise, the expansion adds everything from well over twenty new monster breeds to vastly improved enemy level-scaling and even a brand new base of operations. Even fans of the books are thrown a bone with the return of Regis, long suspected to have survived his seemingly gristly demise at the end of Pani Jeziora, who plays a crucial part in the story.
Many mechanical bonuses can also be found here, including an exceptionally tempting New Game+ mode. Along with increasing the maximum character level to 100, there are a multitude of mutations which can be researched, examined, and only flourish upon starting over. Combine that with a vastly increased number of points of interest - locations which can directly influence the very shape of the map itself - and there's little here which can be truly criticized. Even the UI, much derided by console fans, has undergone a major overhaul and has never been easier to navigate.
Simply put, Geralt's final adventure here is an outing no fan of the Witcher should miss.
WITCHER 3 – BLOOD AND WINE / DEVELOPER: CD PROJEKT RED / PUBLISHER: BANDAI NAMCO / PLATFORM: PC, PLAYSTATION 4, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW