The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Stripped
Updated: Mar 27, 2020
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of the most critically acclaimed RPGs we have seen in a long time, and for good reason. CDProjekt Red came seemingly out of the blue with The Witcher 3. We played the second game and it was good but it didn’t foreshadow the holy grail that is The Witcher 3. It’s an RPG lovers wet dream. The characters are life-like and well developed. Major quests and even side quests have unique stories and voice acting. The story is fleshed out and feels compelling. The world is beautiful and breathtaking. The combat is exciting and rewarding. Gwent is addicting, and both of their DLC expansions feel like their own games. There’s a lot to break down in this issue of Stripped and a lot of plot points to spoil. If you haven’t played the game yet and are considering it I urge you to pick it up now and play it. If you need more convincing and don’t mind spoilers just keep reading.
The Combat in the Witcher 3 is extremely rewarding and fun. When sword fighting, it feels like Geralt is dancing just as described in the novels. Attacks blend into fluid movements, it almost looks like one scripted animation. Alchemy helps give the player that extra edge against monsters and people with assorted bombs, oils, and potions. If you put the effort into alchemy you start to feel like a real Witcher, specializing in all the intricate details it takes to get the upper hand on all the overbearing beasts Geralt encounters. Once the player starts utilizing signs it really takes combat to the next level. It shifts the perception of Geralt just being a swordsman, to something much more. From using Igni on a vampire to Yrden trapping down a wraith, the signs push The Witcher 3’s combat beyond simple swordfighting.
Creatures in The Witcher 3 consistently require thought and preparation for enemies outside of easy difficulty. Oils, signs, and fighting tactics are things you have to consider when hunting the creatures Geralt get’s paid to kill. Combat in this game requires you to research and understand your enemy. In my opinion the combat is one of the best I’ve played because it makes the player think to overcome the mechanics of each fight rather than just fight them longer due to increasing health and damage resistance.
The sheer number of different enemies The Witcher 3 has keeps the player thinking about each fight. Sure there is repetition to some of them but what game can boast a completely unique fight every time. Just look at the Witcher’s bestiary page to see the massive amount of different enemies you can fight. All of the different kinds of enemies are weak to different oils, signs, and styles of fighting. This game kept me on my toes, which in turn kept me consistently interested.
As you gain in levels you gain the ability to increase your combat proficiency with different kinds of mutagens you can use, and abilities you can scale. The mutagen system is a way the game rewards the player for killing monsters. Monsters can drop three different mutagens that give bonuses to their respective skills. Green gives alchemy bonus, red to physical combat, and blue to signs. By applying the mutagens you like, you can start to customize your own Geralt’s strengths to whatever play style you prefer.
Geralt is also able to level skills which allow him to enhance his combat. You can turn your sword fighting into a dance with whirlwind, create stronger bombs and potions, and even turn Igni into a massive wave of fire setting everything around you ablaze. I thoroughly enjoyed the customization this game offered. The only problem was that it was quite daunting the first time I laid eyes upon it. I didn’t know what I wanted to rank up first.
The DLC Expansions
The Witcher 3 has two main DLC’s: Hearts of Stone, and Blood and Wine. Both of these expansions feel like they could be their own games themselves. They offer numerous side quests in addition to their own large independent story lines. CDProjekt Red didn’t slouch when it came to the new content. The stories rival that of the main game.
Hearts of Stone story line has Gerelt working for a man named Olgierd von Everec in the attempt to essentially lift a curse. Playing through this expansion you start to forget the adventure you just completed as Geralt. You are reunited with Shani, an old gorgeous friend of Geralt’s, get possessed by Olgierd’s deceased brother, and basically have to work for the Super Devil.
The scenes with Gaunter O’ Dimm (Super Devil) gave me chills, the ones with Vlodimir von Everic had me laughing, and in the ones with Shani I was extremely jealous of Geralt. This expansion was never a drag, there are interesting fights like with the Caretaker and Frog Prince that will keep you wanting more in between story missions.
Blood and Wine brings you a whole new map to explore: Toussaint. Toussaint is the Witcher version of Southern France. Plenty of vineyards, beautiful landscapes, and beautiful women (especially Duchess Anna Henrietta). Blood and Wine revolves around having Geralt solve what seems to be a vampire conspiracy. With the help of your old Higher vampire friend Emiel you start solving the mystery vampiric murders.
With the entire new zone Blood and Wine starts to feel like it’s own game. Solving curses, going on a treasure hunt, and killing plentiful amounts of Toussaint monsters, Blood and Wine will keep you busy for hours.
When I play an RPG one of the most important things I look for is strong characters, and the Witcher 3 has no shortage of them. Many of the main characters for this game already have established histories and experiences with one another allowing the developers to add on to them. This shows as characters interactions feel real and compelling. Even supporting characters feel like real people and not someone just there to fill up space or tell you to go get X from Y and bring it back.
Even the villagers who give Witcher contracts that use some of the repeated faces feel real due to the quality of the voice acting and story lines. You honestly want to kill the creature that is menacing this podunk village. Avenging their crops becomes a priority, not a filler quest.
The level of craftsmanship put into each character enhances urgency in quests. The impending insanity and paranoia facing Radovid feels real in the Chess scene. You know Dijkstra is out for blood when his money is stolen. I could rant for pages about all the small moments in the game that display a level of craftsmanship unparalleled by any other RPGs created to date, but I won’t.
There are a lot of storylines that are going on at once through The Witcher 3. The main one being finding Ciri, but through the struggle to find her you are put through so many more that somehow seem to almost have the same level of urgency. From following a floating zombie abortion to teleporting through parallel universes, the Witcher 3’s story is just one more way it outshines all other competition.
Starting in Velen in the search for Ciri, Geralt comes across the Bloody Baron. The Baron is by far one of the most interesting, fleshed out, and real characters in any video game. From his animations and voice acting, to the things he says and what he does the Baron is one of my favorite characters in a video game.
Just the Velen storyline is better than some entire games I’ve played, and The Witcher 3 has 2 more main areas to explore. You help in the organization of a coup, hunt down a serial killer of women, hunt a sorceress, defend a castle from other-dimensional raiders, use your support to elect a new leader of Vikings, and investigate a case of men seemingly turning into bears. All of that is done in the attempt to find an adopted daughter who may be in trouble, and those are just a few of the things Geralt can accomplish in this game.
If you play video games for a good story, you’ve hit the motherload when it comes to The Witcher 3. Interesting and fascinating story lines are commonplace in this game, you’ll remember them for a long time after you’ve played, and you’ll want to experience them all over again. The replay value this game holds is immense.
The only part of the story I have a real complaint in is the quest with the political coup against Radovid. It felt rushed and unfinished, there were a lot of loose ends that could have been tied up. But the worst part of it is that it had so much potential to be a fantastic quest line and it was severely underused. The level of political machinations we got was sub-par from everything we had seen previously. We know Dijkstra is a cunning son of a bitch, he was a spymaster, but we didn’t get to see that fleshed out in this questline. It was still fun but it could have been so much more.
The world of The Witcher is vast, beautiful, and best of all it feels real. The Witcher 3 is the first game in which I’ve actually felt like a city was alive. Novigrad has people all over going about their lives, and there are plenty of them you can talk to, do quests for, or buy things from. The amount of bustle Novigrad has does wonders for player immersion. It can feel like you are in a real medieval city, not just a poor imitation of one with a couple NPCs to talk to.
This game can be an amazing screenshot machine with well crafted flora, realistic looking skies and sunsets, fantastic water physics. If you’ve got the hardware to handle it this game will inspire a sense of awe in you. Kaer Morhen is one of the best rendered places in the whole game. It’s one of the few places in a video game that actually made me wish I could be out there in real life seeing it all with my own eyes, and I’m not a fan of hiking through the woods.
Small villages felt like the tight knit communities they were made to look like. Small children running around a few adults doing their own duties, farming, blacksmithing, peddling their goods to the Witcher to keep their roofs thatched. Whether you were running through the bustling city of Novigrad or talking with villagers it didn’t matter because it felt real.
This is a game that could be talked about for hours, but the main points were covered and if you’re not convinced you should be playing this game yet then nothing will. This is my favorite RPG ever created and for good reason, it might even be my favorite game of all time at the moment. The world, the characters, the story, it all blends into what can only be called a work of art. CDProjekt Red has set the bar higher than anyone could have expected and it still puts games that came out years after to shame.
Even Stripped, The Witcher 3 receives a full 10/10 Rating. This is by far one of the best, probably the best game I’ve ever played. I strongly urge any player to pick this game up. It is a time sink but one of my favorite ones. Please play this game, it might be your favorite game and you don’t even know it yet.