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This is not a full review. I say this right up front because I haven’t quite finished playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and I really don’t want to be giving a definitive answer to a series that I love so much and yet I haven’t played to the nth degree.
Why haven’t I finished it you might ask? Well, mainly because I’m taking my time savouring absolutely every little piece of the experience. And what an experience it is.
I bought the PlayStation 4 Collector’s Edition of this game – the first one I’ve bought in a while — and while it is disappointing that the PS4 version doesn’t come with some of the additional elements that are included with the Xbox One version, the game doesn’t disappoint in any way. Okay, maybe in a couple of ways, but those are few and far between, enough for me to be quite forgiving here.
Combat wise, for anyone who has already played The Witcher 2, you’ll find the combat both comfortingly and frustratingly similar. Comforting in that it really hasn’t changed much at all, timings are all much the same – you queue up attacks as you fight, dodging and judging the timing of the actions with an intuitive feel. Frustrating in that it really hasn’t changed much at all, so if you hated the combat last time, you’ll be feeling much of the same irritation.
I quite enjoy have to judge the timing of my attacks rather than just clicking randomly, so for me the combat doesn’t really bother me too much. You need to have a really good understanding of exactly what sword you’re using, which monsters you’re fighting, and which spells you have queued up at all times, and this appeals to my somewhat controlling nature.
When people have asked me how far I am into the campaign on some levels I’m a little ashamed to say not very far, but this is because I spend hours wandering around the landscape fighting monsters, collecting things and exploring. One noticeboard full of monster rewards keeps me occupied for hours on end, and yes, I’ll get back to the main campaign at some point. Probably not for another couple of days though…
Visually I can’t get over this game. I’ve always loved The Witcher series, I would even go so far as to say I’m a bit of a fanatic. As such, I’m never really going to give an unbiased review unless the game disappointed on all levels, and I think most people would agree that this is simply not the case. The game oozes with life and dynamism. It’s vastness and scope is surpassed only by it’s beauty and complexity. As with all of The Witcher games, you can gain an understanding of the local culture, traditions, people as well as flora and fauna, just by speaking to the NPCs you encounter. The beauty of this game is in the attention to detail.
Although I have heard reports from some players about a frame rate lag on the PS4 version, this isn’t something I’ve encountered very often, perhaps only a couple of times. With any luck a patch will rectify some of these issues.
The decision to change the gameplay from a linear game where each city only becomes available at a certain point, to an open world gameplay system that encourages exploration, was definitely a good one on the part of CD Projekt RED. It makes The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that much more immersive.
From a story perspective, we follow Geralt in a story thread that has been present throughout all three games, his search for Yennefer, his lost love and a powerful sorceress. In Wild Hunt we see combined this story thread with the training and later search for Geralt’s student Ciri. As indicated in the title of the game, the infamous, spectral Wild Hunt dogs Geralt’s footsteps as he navigates the path of this very personal journey.
I can’t comment as to the ending at this stage, but if the previous games and my current progression are anything to go by, I’m looking forward to this being once again filled with difficult moral choices that culminate in a variety of different endings, the promise of which often encourage me to play through multiple times just to see what happens. Every single decision, no matter how small, changes the outcome, and this is indeed what makes this games a masterpiece. Expertly woven stories, combined with dynamic combat and quest design, come together to immerse you in a story that will haunt your dreams and have you considering the merits of which offensive tactics would be best to use when battling a griffin.