Returning one last time, Witcher 3 – Wild Hunt serves as the capstone to Geralt of Rivia’s story. With the Northern Kingdoms embroiled in a bloody war following the death of so many of their kings, a bloody spectral force has entered the fray: The dreaded Wild Hunt. As Geralt embarks upon a mission of personal importance, he soon finds that he is key to halting their onslaught.
Anyone who has played the previous Witcher titles can attest to the quality of CD Projekt RED’s work, but Wild Hunt takes things to the next level. Not only is the environment vast, but this one of the best open world titles to date, filled with far more encounters and situations than you would ever find in Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series. Stroll off in one direction and you are bound to find over a dozen new locations, enemies and situations, not all of which you can initially confront. This means backtracking and re-visiting places is core to the game, often even those unmarked on the map.
The side-quests themselves prove to be thoroughly unpredictable and can affect the world in ways you’d not expect. Rather than simply changing who lives in a certain town or a few lines of dialogue by an NPC and can lead to even influencing the outcome of the main story in ways you would not expect. Simply tracking down a utensil can lead to some very surprising twists and turns in an already very strong narrative.
The combat and environments themselves are spectacular, building upon past strengths and mitigating prior flaws. Casting magic mid battle and building a bestiary to how to combat bigger foes is core to the game, but as is hunting. Tracking down a wounded monster and hunting hostile foes is a key element in the story, and helps add some real dimension to random encounters.
There are unfortunately two distinct failings which do hold this back from being totally perfect. The final act of the story unfortunately starts to get away from the writers in juggling so many elements. It’s not hard to see where it unravels and seems rushed in terms of resolving the main conflict, but thankfully just avoids pulling a Mass Effect 3. The other is how many quests, while well told, boil down to fetching items and in this respect the world’s vast nature works against it.
Niggling issues aside, Witcher 3 still remains one of the strongest releases of this generation so far and an exemplary video game in every respect. This is a definite must buy for anyone after a fantastic RPG and a new watermark for world-building and storytelling in video games.
WITCHER 3 – WILD HUNT / DEVELOPER: CD PROJEKT RED / PUBLISHER: BANDAI NAMCO / PLATFORM: PC, PLAYSTATION 4, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW