The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the final chapter in a superb trilogy of games starring the renowned Witcher, Geralt of Rivia. The Witcher series is known for its mature story-driven plot, amazing cast of characters, the gorgeous world and the amazing lore that resides within it. Wild Hunt builds upon its predecessors in just about every imaginable way, and now Geralt has a completely open world to explore and another epic journey to embark on.

This is an immense game. As soon as the world opened up and I laid eyes on the environment I immediately felt overwhelmed. There is always something to do, a monster that needs to be hunted, or a treasure to be discovered. Every aspect of the world is also incredibly detailed. War ravaged wastelands are filled with dead soldiers, weapons, abandoned horses, etc. Cities look and feel real. Just traversing a city and listening to background chatter is a joy. Citizens go to work during the day and sleep at night. Homeless people roam around all night long and get into mischief. The wilderness feels just as authentic as the cities.

Wild Hunt features a day/night system in conjunction with a dynamic weather system that works together beautifully. Watching the sun rise while riding on horseback to my next destination, or trying to find some shelter during one of the games vicious thunderstorms makes the game world feel even more real. The open world isn't completely new to the series; The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings featured an open world, but not even close to the magnitude of this game. This is quite possibly the most authentic-feeling world I have ever played in a RPG.

I found the main story to be a tad bit less interesting than the characters and side quest that surround it. Geralt's journey begins with a worldwide search for his long-time lover Yennefer of Vengerberg and adopted child Cirilla Riannon (Ciri). A group of specters called The Wild Hunt is also searching to find and capture Ciri for their own devious reasons. Unfortunately, the game main story doesn't evolve much past that. Throughout the course of the game Geralt just seems to do quests for people in order to gather more information of where Ciri is and what she has been doing. I did appreciate CD Project RED delivering a more emotional story that dug deeper into Geralt's character than Assassins of Kings political-driven plot did.

Fortunately, side quests are where this game comes to life. Many main quest have secondary quests that branch of from them. Unlike other similar games, the side quests in Wild Hunt are exceptionally well written. There are fetch quest but thankfully only a few. The quality of the writing in these quests are so great that sometimes I would think it was part of the main story.

One thing I have always loved about the Witcher series is how CD Projekt Red implements choices. As you progress through the game, there will be plenty of times where you have to make a difficult choice. Most of these choices change a quest or even the game in drastic ways. What stands out in Wild Hunt is the absence of a morality system.

Geralt's decisions aren't necessarily "good" or "bad" choices, as they are just legitimately difficult choices to make. This discourages you from choosing one type of response each time just to have a certain type of character morality. Every choice I made was based of the situation at hand not whether I wanted to be a good or bad character.

Gameplay has never felt so fluid and streamlined than it does in this entry. I found Assassins of Kings combat to be somewhat clunky but thankfully that has been fixed. The combat runs at a much faster pace than previous entries into the series, making every battle more intense and nerve-wrecking.

Luckily, there have been some changes to make Geralt deadlier than ever. The most notable change are Signs. Signs are magic spells that Geralt has at his disposal. Wild Hunt doesn't feature any new Signs but instead brings the same five Signs back with new functionality. Each Sign has an alternate mode. For example the Igni Sign now can be used as a stream of fire in addition to its normal wide burst. Signs can also be upgraded to increase the ability's intensity.

Witchers, by trade, are monster hunters for hire. Your main source of income will be come from taking on contracts from citizens to kill monsters that have been harassing the area. Monster contracts are one of my favorite things to do in the game. The monster designs are stunning. Each one of these atrocities is different and must be engaged in different ways.

Preparing yourself for a contract consists of gathering information on your prey. This is a great way to get involved in the lore of the game as well. Other ways to prepare for fights are using oils and potions. Oils can be applied to your blade for combat advantages and drinking potions also give you a slight edge.

Compared to its console counterparts, the PC version runs exceptionally well if you have the proper hardware. This is the first game I've had the chance to use Nvidia HairWorks with and I was really impressed. When playing on consoles I noticed a lot of loading times, bugs, and occasional framerate drops. None of this was present on PC, so I highly recommend this version of the game if your rig can handle it.

As you would imagine, graphically, this game is astonishing. Character models are exquisitely crafted. The small details in each individual character's face is just simply something you don't see very often, if at all, in a game this massive. Everything just looks phenomenal. Whether it be the beautiful landscapes, the depths of a monster cave, or the peak of one of the worlds many mountains, the Wild Hunt is just full of meticulous details.

Immersing me more into this wonderful world is the absorbing score that plays in the background. Music complements this game really well. Even with over 70 hours in a death march playthrough, I feel like I'm still scratching the surface of what this game has to offer. There are still tons of hidden treasures, monster caves, places of power, and engaging quests to uncover.

This is the new standard for open world role-playing games. There is no such thing as a perfect game, but The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt come as close to perfect as any RPG to date. The responsive combat system, tremendous world, charismatic characters, and sensational visuals translate into one of the most memorable adventures in years and a splendid way to close the trilogy.

Writer for Darkstation since 2014. I've been playing games my whole life and starting writing about them in 2010. Outside of gaming I enjoy anime and watching my Philadelphia Eagles let me down every Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @jsparis09