Having played just over ten hours of Polish developer CD Projekt RED’s final entry into The Witcher series, I can’t help but be impressed by the world that they have created and at how seamlessly they have merged an array of side quests into a focused narrative.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt revolves around Geralt of Rivia, a rough-and-ready monster hunter willing to do just about anything if the price is right. The interesting thing about Geralt is that despite his standoffish persona and talent for violence, he’s the closest thing to a hero that CD Projekt RED’s war-torn world has got. Whilst you play as Geralt you feel like the good guy, no matter how grotesque your actions might be, because even when you do something particularly grizzly you suspect that your enemy is getting what he or she deserves.
Initially the game can feel daunting for players like me who have had no previous experience of the Witcher series, due to the fact that during combat every button is in play bar the right bumper (on the Xbox One), and also because a substantial amount of time is spent navigating various menus. However, once I’d played the game for just a couple of hours I found that I was sufficiently accustomed to the systems in place; at this point combat became fluid and roaming menus felt like a natural extension of gameplay rather than a burden interrupting my experience.
The Witcher 3’s open world is a large and visually stunning playground to explore. It lives and breathes like no other world of its kind; trees sway in the wind, rivers ripple as torrential rain pierces their surface, and sunsets set the sky ablaze in a flash of orange and gold. Prior to release the talk surrounding RPG’s often revolves around the size of the world, particularly when compared to prior iterations in a series, but what truly makes the difference in a game such as this is the way that the world feels as you traverse it. As the old saying goes, it is invariably quality over quantity that counts. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a game that feels as though its developers wore that mantra on their sleeves – it’s populated by an array of weird but wonderful characters, and at times there’s an almost overwhelming amount of quests, side quests, contracts and treasure hunts to complete, each with their own set of challenging intricacies.
To fully assess The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt would take more than the ten hours I’ve put into it so far, but those ten hours have made a very positive impression. The combat is satisfying once you get to grips with its complexity, the characters are interesting and always have something stimulating to say, and the world is both beautiful to look at and compelling to inhabit. I’m excited to carry on playing and I have no reason to think that once all is said and done The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt won’t be an extremely rewarding experience.
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