Developed by:CD Projekt RED Published by:CD Projekt RED Genre(s):
  • Action RPG
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • PC
  • Sony
  • Cost:$59.99 ESRB Rating:MATURE Players:1 Release date:May 19, 2015 Reviewed on:XBox One

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

    It’s difficult writing a review for a game such as this. Not in the sense that I don’t have the words to describe my experience. Quite the opposite actually – its grand narrative alone is worth a couple of pages. What’s tough is focusing on the major elements in an effort to keep things concise while also proving the popper “scope” for a game of this magnitude; explaining what makes The Witcher 3 the epic finale of a highly praised series without being so awe struck that I start rambling and…see, I’m failing already.

    You’d think, after regaining my memory things would be simpler. Harsh and unforgiving, the world has always been this way. The daunting task of rescuing the love of my life, sorcerous Yennefer, from the Wild Hunt would still loom over me. But at least I knew where I stand. All of that changed after I received a letter from Yen asking me to meet with her. Apparently she wasn’t a slave for the Wild Hunt though she still needed my help…  

    Based on critically acclaimed books by the award winning Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, one would expect the storyline of the Witcher series to be well told. We all know that most licensed games aren’t the best representations of their source material though; when adding in gaming mechanics and player agency things usually take a turn for the worse. In the Witcher 3’s case, the plot is just as engrossing as it has ever been. Of course there’s a focus on the main character Geralt and his fight against the phantom-like army of high elves called the Wild Hunt. So much so, that it allows players a more linear experience if that’s what they are looking for. It also deals with racism (not within he human race but among humans and non-humans ), classism, misogyny, religion, and more “isms” within the confines of the game’s fictional boarders. Meaningful side quests explore these themes further. What I found was a world that is similar to ours, yet influenced by Polish/Slavic mythology. It can be a cruel, despicable, morally bankrupt place to live. At the same time it can be a wonderfully enchanting place, inhabited by noble beings and magnificent creatures.

    I’ve been tracking this Cursed One for days now. Based on its victim’s remains and the fowl stench coming from its cave, I’m not dealing with a lowly beast. Sure, the job description suggested I’d be facing a werewolf, but I didn’t think it would be a Volref. The last time I faced one I came away with three cracked ribs and more torn flesh than I’d like to admit. What’s worse is that I didn’t even kill the damn thing. That humbling defeat was my own fault though. I should’ve been more prepared or at the very least, doused my sword in cursed oils…

    One of my favorite aspects of the Witcher 3 are the monster contracts. When entering a town, one only has to look so far before they see a bulletin board full of “odd” jobs, suited for monster hunters like Geralt. You might read about merchants getting attacked by Drowners when they cross a particular bridge on their trade route or that a nearby village has been plagued by a nasty specter called a Nightwraith, who enjoys sneaking into huts and killing people in their sleep. Whatever the case, accepting the job will start a challenging side quest that requires a bit of sleuthing as well as swings from your silver sword. Because your prey doesn’t normally reside at the scene of the crime, you’ll need to use your heightened Witcher senses to track it down. Blood, footprints, even a lingering scent can be found by holding a button while searching for clues. Once you’ve found and properly identified what it is you’ll be facing (Geralt will make a definitive statement about the clues you have gathered), you’ll then need to prepare for the ensuing battle.

    CD Projekt RED has improved upon this notion of preparation. In the Witcher 2, players would need to prepare before a fight by using potions to buff Geralt’s abilities for a limited time. The issue I had with this set up was twofold. For one, despite the high emphasis on preparation, not enough effort was made to inform the player of what type of preparations would most benefit them without going through the sometimes unnecessary and frustrating process of trial and error. Outside of the obvious – I’m heading into an area that’s infested with a certain type of monster – there wasn’t much in way of a warning. The second issue was the heavy dependence  on buffs to help in tough fights. Even if I did take the proper precautions before treading into a dangerous place, because the buffs only lasted so long they’d sometimes dissipate before I even made it to my foe. And once the fighting began there was no option to use a potion to heal myself or strengthen my defenses (you can only use them outside of combat).

    Both of these issues have been addressed in the Witcher 3. There are still buff granting potions but I can actually use them during combat. The more enemy specific measures are based on your strikes as opposed to being timed; using regular curse oil on my silver sword would give me twenty powered up attacks before going away. And lastly, the game does an excellent job of providing clues about who or what it is you’ll be facing in most encounters. Of course, being an open world game you’re bound to come across all sorts of nasty creatures unexpectedly. But because of the way the potion mechanics have been tweaked, these random battles aren’t as difficult…at least when it comes to you being prepared. Dodging fireballs and parrying incoming sword swipes all while calculating when to counterattack are still techniques that need to be mastered. Death can come quick, prepared or not.

    I’m not even sure what I’m dealing with here. Seems like some sort of shapeshifter – a Berserker maybe. I’d rather head to Skellige with Yennefer. See if we can track down Ciri before she gets into any more trouble. Still, I accepted the job and by the looks of things, just in time… 

    This is the first game in recent memory where I actually want to complete the side quests. Not just some, but all of them! Normally, I’d look into these diversions as a means of acquiring rare loot or gaining additional experience points. Some of them might even peak my interest by expounding on a game’s folklore. For the most part though they felt like good filler, used to extend the life of a game. In the Witcher 3, not only was what I was doing far from dull (I counted one fetch quest in my whole playthrough), there’s a sense of urgency that pushed me towards these quests. A short term result of not helping the traveling merchants could be the lack of a blacksmith in a given town; with no new tools or metals to work with, they’d pack up and move somewhere else, which could complicate things if you’re looking to craft a better weapon. Long term effects range from entire villages being wiped out to certain main characters dying. Even if you complete a quest and help one person you could be dooming another. Not all of the consequences are negative as some people’s lives are changed for the better. What I’m getting at here is that because the side quests alter the story in meaningful ways, they aren’t easy to ignore.

    The trees in their camp are decorated with the bodies. Ominously swaying back and forth, they act as a warning. With the war going on, the only ones standing in their way are the few farmers willing to pick up a pitch fork. It’s no wonder they were surprised to see me. A Witcher, hired to dispatch bandits and not monsters? Well…they’re monsters to me. A few blasts from Igni sets their clothes ablaze. Embers dance in the moonlight before dissipating alongside their chard corpses…

    The Witcher 3 is one of the best looking current gen games to date. The flowing rivers, snow covered mountains and grassy fields adorned with severed limbs – it’s full of finally detailed environments for the player to get lost in. What really raised the level of immersion for me though was how physically connected the world felt. Using Aard (a telekinetic spell) to violently push enemies away was made more believable by how it kicked up debris in front of me. I remember talking to an NPC about a current quest and in the middle of our discussion it started raining. We both realistically grew wet as the conversation went on. It’s the little things like this, alongside the grand sights that made me share multiple screens from my Xbox One.

    …though I was able to slay the giant, it wasn’t a completely successful mission. Too many lost their lives that day…

    While it’s true that the game is visually pleasing, it isn’t without its scars. Suffering from drops in frame rate and pop-in so bad that it affects gameplay – I had to wait several seconds until a character was fully rendered before I could speak to them – it could use a few patches. There are also a number of glitches including one specific to the Xbox that removes the ability for players to save their progress*. Should that keep you from buying the Witcher 3 for this console (or at all even)? Certainly not! These are minor complaints when compared to everything the game has to offer. In order to being things back down to reality though, I needed to disclose the obvious. It isn’t perfect.

    *CD Projekt RED has released patches to address the above issues. And while I’m not completely sure that the save glitch has been fixed, I can say that the visual issues have not improved.

    **The screens shown in the review are from a high end PC. We weren’t given assets representing the console versions.



    Riveting story, a refined combat system, exciting side quests, and incredibly realized word = Game of the Year material!



    While the Witcher 3 is the best looking game out right now, it does suffer from graphical issues from time to time. Some so bad that they impair your ability to play.



    The music, voice acting, and sound effects are amazingly done.

    Replay Value:


    I want to experience everything this game has to offer, including the extra content coming later this year!

    Final Score:


    © United Front Gaming. All rights reserved. Site design by: 801red