The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Game of the Year Edition Review

Let’s get started by saying this game is Game of the Year for a reason. The Witcher is my favourite franchise next to Mass Effect and Dragon Age. I love the Witcher so much I’ve even invested in the books. I’ll try to minimise the bias in this review and can indeed point out some things for improvement, yet id just like to make my opinion absolutely clear when I say this is my favourite game of all time.

SO, moving on from my fangirling moment here we are at the nitty gritty of it all. The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt is an action role playing game developed by CD Projekt Red. Obviously a series of three games, each as epic as the previous but Wild Hunt stands out dramatically which I will get into further later. We begin still following our classic asshole Geralt of Rivea and his rightful lover Yennefer of Vengerberg (yes, I’m team Yennefer, she’s just got more depth as a character in my opinion) as they live their happy life in Kaer Morhen. They are there with Geralt’s prodigy and adoptive daughter Ciri after she is kidnapped by the Wild Hunt. The story follows the journey of finding Ciri as a young woman when the Wild Hunt have returned.

In the story Geralt interacts once again with is formal lover- who never seems to go away, Triss Merigold. We also see characters such as Dandelion, Geralt’s friend and bard, a witch Keira (yes, she is romanceable. Enjoy if that’s what you’re into). The Bloody Baron being a notable new character as a gruesome baron based in Velen’s Crows Perch and The Emperor of Vizima who is exactly as intimidating as he sounds. The best thing about this game is its characters, even the side characters such as the Blacksmith and his helper in The Bloody Baron’s territory that story line alone is just as good as half of the triple A story lines being put out today. The story line itself can even break into a multitude of outcomes and endings once the game is complete, which should leave the player hanging on every decision saying, ‘Shit why did I do that?’ Once thing you think is the best outcome can turn out to be the worst, and it just gives the game that replay ability that makes is so worth the money you will pay for it. On my own playthrough I attempted to complete all the side missions and racked up a total of 100 hours in game time. In the second playthrough though I noticed the impact of your decisions not only effects the end of the game, like in something such as Mass Effect 2’s ‘if you do all the characters loyalty missions and upgrade everyone lives’ but it also effects the present day in the game really putting you into the role play element of the game.

So, the game is very good value for money and can be replayed, fits the genre well and is enticing through the choice system and intriguing characters. A main part of some people’s interest in the previous games did come from the romance options, and et me tell you, fans will not be disappointed and new comers will be satisfied as well. The game is easily joinable on the third game, having not played the previous installations does not take anything major away from Wild Hunt, having played the others just gives a more prominent insight to the lore. Yet the characters are what makes this game the game of the year in my opinion, and they are excellent for new comers or Witcher lovers.

The soundtrack is something else, special editions are graced with a copy of it, but the music immerses you into the head of a Witcher. Depending on the hostility of the environment and the place in which your Geralt is currently in changes the music. Skellige a sort of rough island in the middle of nowhere seems to have more aggressive music compared the likes of Velen which will have calmer music. All of it is beautifully composed and adds to the experience.

The games graphics are undoubtedly beautiful even on the consoles, but this is where the game can go wrong, with the animation and glitches. So, while for the most part the animation and graphics are impeccable there comes a time when Geralt’s jaw will detach from his face… or he will fall through the floor on his horse after jumping a fence. The first sort of glitch fixes itself after some time or when the animation returns to Geralt in over the shoulder mode. The second glitch for me involved turning off the console unless I wanted to watch Geralt fall through the ground eternally. Except these few issues though the game is glorious in its surroundings; the snow on the mountains in Skellige, the sun hitting the grass in Velen and the texture of the skin in the characters faces. All very well done by CD Projekt Red, some of the best graphics I’ve ever seen.

Compared the Witcher 2, Geralt is a lot easier to control in this installation, the skills are mapped, and it isn’t too complicated for anyone to pick up. However, it is different! So, if you were an avid fan of the second games inventory system or button mapping, then you may struggle or may even be put off the game altogether. Personally, I believe the menu is a lot easier to use and navigate your loot, making the game a lot more accessible to new comers. The old system, in fairness, was extremely impractical because in the middle of a battle, having to stop for ten minutes to sort your difficult to navigate inventory is quite ineffective, and if there is one thing this game does, it gets harder. Not too hard to the point where you throw your controller and rage quit, but difficult if you’re unprepared for battle, potion wise or gear wise. This is a thing you must handle yourself like in the previous games, you gather your own ingredients and you make your potions, making your gameplay a lot smoother, so screw yourself over or feel like a badass? Your choice. Overall the change in my opinion is not a bad thing, just leaves you with less grey hairs.

A little bit more on the gameplay of Geralt, your companions can be slightly annoying by bumping into you, but for the most part when fighting with Yennefer or Triss they cast spells on enemies effectively making the fighting go smoothly. Any errors are made up for by the sheer size of The Witcher, its magnificent with thousands of quests and people to meet, it’s so so easy to get lost in the world! It’s massive! Geralts movement is great and easy to handle, expect for the occasion when the console would stick, he would jump a little bit ahead of where he was when running. Yet I’m assuming this is an issue with the console version of the game or perhaps even just my console alone, so I wouldn’t let that hinder you from playing it anyway. The enemy difficulty is not too overwhelming except for when you’re a little new Geralt with like terrible armour and find a dragon thinking ‘now’s my time’. it’s not. Top tip is to make sure you’re ready for big battles before you enter them and prepare yourself with upgrades of gear via blacksmiths and potions.

The verdict of The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt is that it’s a must play. Its Game of the Year for a reason and its well earnt. Granted the game has its downfalls, but it has considerably less then most AAA games now days. The graphics are spectacular the characters are real and effective. The game gives you hours on hours of entertainment that can turn our differently each time, so well worth the price. Plus, when you have finished and crave more Wild Hunt, The Witcher 3 has DLC! ‘Hearts of Stone’ and ‘Blood and Wine’ Both equally as big and interesting as the game itself. Now go, get lost in the world of the Witches and Witchers, the dwarfs and the bards, it’ll be the best 100 hours you’ll spend, and I’ll look forward to arguing (or agreeing) about how Yennefer is better than Triss.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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