S&S Review: The Witcher 3


Title:  The Witcher 3
Format: PS4(reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: CD Projekt Red
Developer: CD Projekt Red
Price: $59.99
ESRB Rating: M

The Witcher 3 is simply one of the finest RPGs I've played in a long time...



Narrative and Presentation:
The Witcher 3 is one of those special games that don't come around very often, it's a game that sets it's own tone and setting, and doesn't pull any punches. It's a place of almost relentless suffering. Humans are largely scattered across a network of small villages that you can travel between at will once the map opens up after the prologue, by horse or on foot. The starving peasants that inhabit these rickety townships are easy pickings for the demented creatures surrounding them. As Geralt, you move from place to place choosing to help all those you want to, depending on if the coin is sufficient. The overarching story centres on Geralt's adopted daughter, Ciri. As a child of the “elder blood”, she can teleport between worlds. A cohort of otherworldly riders called The Wild Hunt want to harness that ability so they can invade other worlds en masse. You have to find Ciri before they do, which turned out to be much more engaging than I thought it would be. The Witcher 3 is at its best when you choose solely to wander, taking sidequests from peasants and contracts from town noticeboards. Freed from the wild goose chase that is it's main storyline, CDPR has packed in more than enough for players to do on the side. This is one of the biggest draws I found with the game. The side quests are never just simple fetch quests, they all have their own personal storylines with characters that are all heavily invested in their predicaments. The game's presentation is pretty spotless. The environments and characters look incredible, and the music is just as epic as the game's robust ethos.   Other than a few minor technical issues, the game looks stunning.
Core Gameplay:
This game will draw a lot of comparisons to Dragon Age: Inquisition, and for good reason. Both of these games are massive open world RPGs. One big part of the Witcher 3 is it's exploration. The game highly encourages you to explore it's world and encounter it's wondrous and shockingly fleshed out characters. Most of the game's side quests all have a sense of weight to them, so you're not just delivering love letters or lighting proverbial fires for some religious reason. These side quests feature characters with their own backstories you can choose to explore at your own whim. Combat is another huge component in the game. Geralt's an expert swordsman, a magic wielding warrior, and a wise alchemist, all rolled into one. On the harder difficulties, you'll need to make use of all of Geralt's tools to get the better of the title's more troubling enemies, and this means preparing yourself for battle as well as fighting tooth and nail during. The game isn't as tough as in the previous Witcher games, but the challenge is still here. At the core of combat is swordplay. Geralt makes use of two blades, but only wields one at a time. One is steel, which is meant for cutting down men and aggressive wildlife, while the other is silver, and is used in the more mythical encounters. The protagonist will automatically draw the most suitable of the two at the beginning of a battle, so you won't have to worry about switching, but both weapons are wielded in the exact same way. Making use of parries, blocks, counter attacks, light strikes, and heavy blows, swordplay is extremely deep. You will still come across foes who refuse to die from a series of slashes and stabs, and this is where Geralt's secondary abilities come into play. If you know what sort of monsters you're going to be tackling, it may be in your best interest to make use of the alchemy system, which allows you to brew potions, oils, and tinctures through a relatively simple crafting menu. All of these factors bind together to create a rock solid combat system that not only rewards caution, but encourages you to take maximum advantage of your opponent's weaknesses.
Final Thoughts:
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt sets a new standard for open world RPGs. Its shockingly cohesive world is as beautiful as it is tragic, it's simply one of the best RPG's I've ever played.

+Stunningly Realized World
+Tons of Meaningful Content
+Fast and Visceral Combat
+Great Soundtrack
-Jerky Movement

S&S Rating: 9.5/10
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