“Born to Greatness.”

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt captures a world at its rawest, yet purest form; undergoing a relentless tug-of-war between disparity and beauty. Sprawling in terms of both storytelling and design, The Witcher 3 is an absolute triumph for the expansive, open world, role-playing genre. Excellence weaves its way into every crevice, proudly bringing to life this profound adventure that excels in nearly every field. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, is something more; something human, something unpredictable and something special. It’s quite simply one of the finest video games ever created.

The first thing to know about The Witcher is every interaction demands a sacrifice. There’s no black-and-white victory, nor sides, and there’s no bliss without misery. The world of The Witcher isn’t a welcoming one, despite its inviting beauty. The fueling atmosphere is uniformly heavy and threatening, presenting danger around every corner. Tarnished by war, the land’s accustom cruelty falls upon lower class inhabitants. Peasants are murdered and violated in the streets, while invading armies and bandits destroy countrysides, pillaging and plundering to their heart’s content. All the while, they’re cowering at the thought of being eaten alive by monstrous horrors that share the world with the living. There are lighter, more intimate moments as well, for it’s not all a pity party. Yet, the relentless brutality that’s to be found in the woods and back alleys, highlights the world for what it really is, making it all the more enthralling and rich.The_Witcher_3_Wild_Hunt_YouFacing it all, swords drawn, is returning protagonist Geralt of Rivia. A question surrounding The Witcher 3, is its accessibility to newcomers. Possessing a fairly structured background of knowledge is sure to help along the way. A number of occasions throughout the story will leave novice players scratching their heads, but as a whole, the central narrative stands by itself. Geralt is tasked to find his daughter-figure Ciri, before an otherworld party known as the Wild Hunt catches her. It’s a classic search mission at first glance, but as layers peel back and fascinating characters reveal themselves, the narrative stands for something much more. The Witcher 3’s story is laced with devastating repercussions and triumphant victories.

The main plot-line allows only so much space for additional story content to thrive and justify a lengthy showing. It’s packed to maximum capacity with characters, branching-dialogue and missions essential to the over-arching narrative so that much of what makes the world most fascinating, is hidden elsewhere. Luckily, nothing goes overlooked. Natural exploration and beefy side quests are given plenty of room to spread their wings outside the main story; it’s in these moments The Witcher 3 proves most inspiring. From reuniting loved ones to serving brutal justice to religious leaders, The Witcher 3 offers boundless amounts of unforgettable side content.The_Witcher_3_Wild_Hunt_SeeThe connections between Geralt and the rest of the characters prove the story’s strongest driving force, most notably his relationship with Ciri. Everyone is grounded in their own way, making each interaction form a powerful bond to the past and present. If you have played a Witcher game or read the novels, you already know many of the key players. Geralt may be in change, but Ciri, along with countless others, fill the role of show stealers.

As for Ciri, she’s no damsel in distress, as it may first appear. Throughout Geralt’s journey to locate Ciri, he engages in conversations with people she came in contact with while fleeing from the Wild Hunt. During these sections, you take control of Ciri, playing through sequences that bridge past events with what lies ahead for Geralt and company. Ciri isn’t the only strong female character either. Women play a big role in the story and they’re not just there for the sake of eye candy. These women stand confident and capable in their contribution to finding Ciri, with the likes of Triss and Yennefer playing essential roles.Witcher_3_Wild_Hunt_e3_2014-1As expected, hacking and slashing makes up a big part of The Witcher 3. Geralt relies on two blades, wielding only one at a time. One is steel, meant for cutting down the filthy men and dangerous wildlife, while the other is silver, used for cutting down mythical foes. Utilizing blocks and counter attacks can save your life, while light and heavy blows carry visceral and satisfying results, no matter what you’re holding off. Swordplay is fast and fluid, with spot-on controls that make combat rewarding.

Aside from steel and silver, Geralt posses an array of magical skills known as signs. It’s not full-blown sorcery, but it gets the job done when needed. The five greatly varied signs at Geralt’s disposal are available from the start, and act as a quick, efficient way to regain control of a fight. From burning foes with a blast of fire, to controlling opponents’ minds, each sign has a use. Brewing potions and oils through a relatively simple crafting process–known as the alchemy system–can also give you the upper hand during a sticky situation. Ingredients can be found nearly everywhere you step. From monster guts to pretty flowers, each combination results in a tiny bottle of goodness. Some potions will increase the strength of your signs, while others can improve health regeneration. In some cases, oils will allow you to do much more damage to certain enemies. I ran into a handful of side quests that required a specific oil treatment, allowing an advantage in the fight. Geralt isn’t a custom made character like many RPG’s protagonists, but you do feel more in control of him if utilizing these options, along with other extensive customizable features. This may seem like a lot to digest, but each item has something drastically varied to offer, giving plenty of reason to experiment.The_Witcher_3_Wild_Hunt_HalThe Witcher 3 is gargantuan in size, making it mind-boggling how a game of this magnitude is even technically possible. A perfect balance between varied activities to partake in and vast, open environments that allow room to breathe, stands as the biggest achievement CD Projekt Red capitalizes on. Everywhere Geralt and his trusty steed, Roach, travel, they’re met with staggering attention to detail. If something catches your eye while on the road, it most likely leads somewhere new and interesting, with a story of its own to tell. The Witcher 3’s map overflows with loads of content to be absorbed, almost all of which is presented in astounding quality.

Geralt’s decisions also change the world in various ways. It’s through these multitude of choices the game is able to perfectly tell individual stories. It’s also through this that The Witcher 3 is able to tackle and handle some very mature themes. This isn’t the sort of adventure for the light hearted or those easily offended. Be that as it may, CD Projekt Red takes on many controversial themes with a great deal of thought and respect. The Witcher 3 revels in making you, as a player, feel uncomfortable and constantly tested. Therefore, it’s extremely hard not to get caught up in the emotional whirlwind and intrigue of Geralt’s choices. The Witcher 3 also loves to tinker with your moral stance on pressing issues. The game presents situations that provoke meaningful thought, before mindlessly driving your sword into those in need of justice, capturing the ever persistent theme of right and wrong.ciri-the_witcher_3_wild_hunt-hd-game-girl-1920x1080By now you’re likely wondering where The Witcher 3 goes astray, but in all honesty, it’s fairly difficult to pick out any truly detrimental flaws. If there’s something negative to point at, it’s the technical performance on both the Xbox One and PS4 versions. Glitches can prove to be as much an issue as Geralt’s more unpredictable foes. 30 frames per second might have been a bit much to ask on the console version, especially during more action-packed moments. Crashes also made an appearance during my PS4 playthrough, but luckily didn’t set me back, thanks to The Witcher 3’s generous checkpoint system. Thankfully, if running on a decent rig, the PC version forgoes these technical caveats, running at a solid 60 frames per second at all times on ultra settings. It should also be noted that The Witcher 3 has suffered a fairly significant graphical downgrade since the first few reveal trailers across all three platforms. When looking at the final product as a whole, what’s being offered is still more than enough to make up for the technical distractions.

What largely makes up The Witcher 3 consists of essentially the same things, front to back: main quests, side quests, killing, talking and using witcher sense. It’s the unpredictable nature of the world that stems into something more than just fetch-quest-heavy activities. Everything plays out in a world as alive and rich as our own, filled with people in need, grasping tight to what hope they have left. The Witcher 3’s world may not be the nicest of places, but it’s one that will surely stick with you if you choose to absorb its magnificent tragedies and triumphs.witcher_3_wild_hunt_e3_2014-26Summary: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the first big step forward this generation. Not only does it set a new and extremely high standard for the open world RPG genre, but for massive games of its kind, alike. It’s been quite some time since I’ve visited a place that felt so alive, so desperate, yet so euphoric. The Witcher 3 is an indisputable achievement, worthy in and of itself, of looking past its disruptive glitches. CD Projekt Red has created a massive, sprawling, meaningful world to lose yourself in, elevated by an impeccable and tedious balance between conflict and intimacy. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s complex storytelling is superb, its combat is smart, and it brims with unforgettable emotional scenarios that come together to form an extraordinarily rewarding experience. Simply put, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a creative masterpiece.

Connect with me on Twitter and let me know your thoughts on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Find me @BraxHaugen.


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