Having never played a Witcher game before I was drawn to the amount of hype that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt received during development. After seeing a ton of content on what looked like one of the best RPG games known to man, I quickly set up my preload in anticipation for release.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt continues on the story of Geralt of Rivea, the main hero from previous titles. Wild Hunt starts off with a tutorial mode which returning players would find very familiar. There is a chance to skip the tutorial all together if you are already a seasoned Witcher. But for newcomers to the series, the tutorial is great to get you used to the controls. I am currently playing on a mouse and keyboard but there are options to use a gamepad.

Wild Hunt is primarily a standard RPG. You battle monsters to earn experience to level up, you craft potions and gain skill in alchemy and of course there is a beloved tech tree that’s split up into different categories to fine tune your character. Each menu of the tech tree is laid out beautifully and is very easy to understand. There are however a huge amount of customisation to get lost in which personally found a little bit overwhelming at first, but soon got used to the many options to choose from.

The game map is split up into sections, and although not fully open world, the different segments of map are so huge and rich with life that you really don’t notice. There are things to do and tasks to complete around every corner.  Most of the side quests are your run of the mill kill this creature or collect 10 of this particular item but the storylore you discover from completing these quests make them worth  he time.  The majority of the hours spent with The Witcher 3 has been spent running around the world completing side quests rather than getting on with the main story.

Combat feels fresh and each swing of your sword feels powerful. Each connection with an enemy feels like it’s actually doing some harm. The combat system feels like a standard hack n slash game with added elements. Geralt can use various items to aid him in combat such as electricity potions for extra damage, or even a ranged attack with a crossbow. There are spells that come in useful too which range from mind control to casting fire or pushing back a monster with telekinesis. Enemies are fierce, and it can be a challenge to take them down. It’s good to know that each enemy comes with its own base stats so you know what you’re up against. You can find these in your Beastery. The most useful to know of these is an enemy’s weaknesses. Rather than running aimlessly into combat, the Witcher 3 requires you to use more skill and tactics.

The story revolves around Geralt completing quests and side missions to get closer to finding his love interest Yennifer and his surrogate daughter Ciri. It’s a simple main storyline which unfortunately doesn’t do much in the way of making the player feel immersed. There’s nothing in there that makes me feel as if I should care about the two missing characters. For a Witcher game, that’s sad as the previous two titles had some great main quest moments. I felt compelled to continue exploring for side quests more than completing the story.

The saving grace to the Witcher 3’s storyline are some emotional, well written and performed dialogue. You will find character development is superb and even from the start, new players will understand what’s going on as the game introduces you to each character quickly. The faces of the characters change as they speak to you and one another giving an emotional level that is really quite rare for video games.

Having spent a good number of hours with the Witcher 3 I can see why the hype was so large before its release. The game feels new while holding many loved attributes to previous RPG games. The game world is absolutely huge and the visual effects are quite clearly stunning. Running the game at a steady 60 frames per second with your graphics settings set to ultra only enhanced its beauty.

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Stef Murphy

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