My Time With The Witcher 3 (so far)
So, for the past couple of months, most of the books I’ve been reading have been pre-release beta reads for first-time authors, hence the lack of book reviews posted. However, I have been playing this game. It’s one that took the gaming community by storm with it refreshing approach to content, it’s attention to detail as well as the rich lore from previous games, books etc. It’s none other than the masterpiece that is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
For those unaware, the Witcher series is a collection of three games, all taking place one after the other. I didn’t play the first one, but I did play the second one and I loved it. The characters were entertaining, the fights brutal and rewarding and the story was one that left an impression. It made me want to continue the series with the third game, so I did. I picked up Witcher 3 a couple of months after I played the second one, once it became backwards compatible for the Xbox One. I hadn’t even heard of the series before the third gam took the world by storm. I got caught up in the hype and flood of praise it received, and my interest was piqued.
The Witcher 3’s story takes place after the second game and we find Geralt, the titular witcher with the Wild Hunt (more on that in a bit) nipping at his heels, and at the heels of Ciri, a child of prophecy who can either save or destroy the world. Geralt is tasked with tracking down this child (well, grown woman). This is overarching plot, but throughout your journey, you take on contracts for monsters plaguing various villages, side quests that have characters you know little about but can end up caring for, and of course, developing Geralt’s love life. I know. Sounds awesome, right? That’s because it is.
It’s not an exaggeration to say this game is amazing; it won over 800 awards after all. Why is it so great? Well, there’s quite a bit to love about the game.
For starters, we have Geralt.
He’s a grizzly, experienced witcher, who tends to toss out sarcastic barbs, and threats that aren’t really threats when mouthed off to, or when someone tries to short him on a contract. The guy isn’t someone you want to screw with, and rightly so. I mean, he hunts monsters for a living, enduring mutations and witcher potions to gain an edge over his beastly foes; imagine what he could do to a regular human. As long as you don't screw with his money or his family, then you're good.
Then there’s the former flame, Triss Merigold, who makes a return from the previous game.
To say their relationship is complicated would be an understatement, but then again, most of Geralt’s relationships are complicated. Triss is a powerful sorceress, who can hold her own alongside Geralt, and seeing her again brought a smile to my face. I enjoyed the relationship she and Geralt shared in the second Witcher game. She still has that same ferocity and knack for survival that proves she isn’t one to be trifled with, and in a video game community oversaturated with damsels in distress, it’s great to see a woman who doesn’t need to rely on a male character to get shit done.
The other woman that made another appearance and holds Geralt’s heart, even after he’d lost his memory I believe (like I said, complicated) is the sorceress Yennefer, AKA best girl.
Apart from being (understandably) peeved at Geralt getting together with Triss during the time that he’d lost his memory in the previous game, Yennefer is often a level-headed, opportunistic woman who always seems to have a plan, despite the situation. And since the Wild Hunt is after not only Geralt and Ciri, but her as well, it’s admirable that she’s able to do all she does. I doubt I’d be able to perform as effectively as she does with the Hunt’s icy breath chilling the back of neck. Powerful, reliable, and knowledgeable. What more can you ask for in a heroine?
Well, I guess you could ask for the power to bend time and space, and travel to other dimensions. That is what the child of the prophecy, Ciri is able to do.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the sections of the game where you can play as Ciri, because they were freaking awesome, and not an entirely unwelcome break from playing as Geralt. I’d go as far as saying she could have been a main character in her own right. Her powers are interesting to say the least, and it’s awesome getting to play as a kick-ass female character. Huh, seems that’s a running theme in this game.
The women in this game aren’t just eye candy there for Geralt to save them from whatever trouble they’re in; they fight alongside the witcher to solve their problems, and while Geralt’s help is valuable, these women are far from helpless without it. It’s one of the points that prove its earned the awards and praise it’s received.
The Wild Hunt
The Wild Hunt is the shadow looming over the world. They’re a convoy of ghostly riders that bring with them, death, war and plagues. This is the threat that Geralt and his friends are up against. They’re being hunted, and that threat is never far from your mind as you play through the rich storyline. Shoot, even the side quests and NPCs allude to the inevitable appearance of the riders, or at least the desolation they’ll bring. They’re a constant threat that you can’t escape even if you wanted to, and they’re after you and all those you care about. IT creates a tense gaming experience that you can’t help but appreciate, at least that’s what it’s been like for me.
There’s so much to do in Witcher 3, it can easily seem a bit overwhelming. This is never the case though. You choose what you want to do, when you want to do it, and that freedom makes all the difference. I find myself eschewing the stellar main storyline to check out side quests and monster hunts quite often, and I don’t mind getting sidetracked for hours doing it. I can remember when I’d started a quest from the main story and decided to check out some of the unexplored areas on the map on the way to my next destination. It was just supposed to be a little detour. I was swallowed by my “little detour” and the next time I looked at my clock, I realized that it lasted for about five hours. I loved every minute of it.
There’s so many places to see, people to (and possibly help), that getting sidetracked form the main storyline never feels like a chore. You never feel like you’re missing out by not continuing the main storyline and focusing on the side stuff. That’s what makes this game so enjoyable to me: I’m not forced to focus on the main storyline because the side content is boring or repetitive. I can choose to do either or because the main storyline and the side stuff both hold their own charm, and there’s so much lore you can learn that doing the side quests and exploring always has an upside. That is, unless you get one-shotted by some higher-level monster that you have no business wandering into the territory of and trying to fight.
The combat is easy to learn, yet requires a bit of work and strategy if you play on harder difficulties, the graphics are gorgeous and the story and characters are memorable and fully developed. All in all, Witcher 3 is one of the best games I’ve ever played, and I’m still not done with it!