The Witcher 3
If you were to ask me what my number one favourite food, film, band, or place was, I would have to stop and think about it for a while and may not even be able to give you just one answer. But if you were to ask me what my number one favourite game is? I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, without any hesitation, it is ‘The Witcher 3‘.
The Witcher 3
The Witcher 3 is CD Projekt Red’s most successful title to date, the game was initially released in May 2015 and not surprisingly went on to win multiple Game Of The Year awards that year, even winning several awards at the BAFTA Game awards. The success did not end there and by the end of the summer, more then six million copies had been sold over PC and consoles. Even now, 3 years on, it continues to draw in new players.
Love at first.. play
Having always had a strong interest in the mythic and fairy tales The Witcher was right up my street. I admit the third instalment was my first foray into Geralt’s world but it certainly was not my last! Having put hundreds of hours, completed multiple playthroughs and collected all (but 1) of the Gwent cards I needed more. That’s where the enhanced edition of The Witcher 2 (Xbox 360) came in and after that the books.
So where to begin? There are so many places to start, there are so many gorgeous elements that come together to form the luscious scrumptious feast that is The Witcher 3, but let’s do this right, first thing first, Geralt.
Geralt Of Rivia
Geralt is a Human Witcher affiliated with the Witcher School of the Wolf. To become a Witcher apprentices must be subjected to the “Trial of the Grasses”. This is an incredibly painful trial wherein they are required to consume special alchemical ingredients which affects their physiology. It is said that only 3 out of 10 survive the trials. Failure leads to a horrendously painful death but success grants the signature cat-like eyes and lightning reflects, amongst other enhancements. During his trials Geralt displayed an unusual tolerance to the substances and endured further experimentation which gave him greater speed, stamina and strength than his fellow Witchers and created his signature white hair.
Despite his title, Geralt of Rivia, he does not actually hail from Rivia! It is revealed in the book ‘Baptism of Fire’ (the third novel in The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski) that he chose that name in order to appear more friendly to potential clients. His first choice was the rather questionable ‘Geralt Roger Eric Du Haute Bellegarde’, what a mouthful!
Geralt is my favourite protagonist, followed closely by Joel from The Last Of Us (another total masterpiece). There is something inherently endearing about a big grumpus who is secretly a total sweetheart. Despite his gruff exterior and his assurances he’s a ‘lone wolf’ we encounter many of his friends and allies, all of whom have nothing but glowing things to say about him. His relationships with his friends feels so different, the animation combined with wonderful voice acting and meaty source material blends beautifully to create honest and genuine interactions. Geralt is no stranger to female attention throughout our journey, we meet many ladies of all different races who wish nothing more than to bed Geralt, and some (looking at you Kiera) use their womanly charms to trick him. You can’t dispute he is a really likeable fella!
Throughout our journey we are presented with moral decisions on how to progress/end quests and contracts and unlike games like Fallout 4 these decisions will and do effect the outcome of the game. Whilst you can’t customise Geralt beyond his hairstyles or beard, or lack their of, these decisions can give the player a personalised play through. As far as I am concerned Geralt is an inherently good person, so I will often refuse payment for contracts (unless they are Soldiers, then I am taking them for all they are worth) and free all people where possible. Geralt is a loyal, determined and ferocious alley to have on side, he is tenacious in his searching for Ciri, an all round good guy and master Gwent player!
The World of The Witcher
The map of the base game is huge, add in the Blood and Wine DLC and you might as well settle in, you are in for the long run. My favourite art of The Witchers landscape can be found in Toussaint, the new city in Blood and Wine. Toussaint is a land that has not been ravaged by the war like Vellen and is not unforgiving like Skellige. Toussaint is plush, vibrant and full to the brim with life.
One of the most wonderful things in Blood and Wine is that you inherit a homestead for Geralt who, let’s be real, deserves a nice place to live after all the crap he has been though. There is even a nice stable for Roach!
In an article for Playstation.blog Kacper Miepokolczycki (Environment Artist at CDPR) wrote that;
“…It’s almost a fantasy land straight out of a fairy-tale”
and he is not wrong. Whilst exploring Toussaint, you battle giant centipedes and Archespores- which are giant cursed plants grown from the soil fertilised by the blood of the fallen. They attack with jaw-like leaves or spray caustic acid on their prey. GREAT!
What makes The Witcher stand out for me is the dedication, time and effort that has been put in by CDPR, what has been created is a masterpiece, that remains true to the source material but with its own distinct feel and ideas.
In a world of micro-transactions and loot boxes The Witcher is a breath of fresh air. If you want to succeed at the game you work for it, everyone is equal in the eyes of game!
CDPR are a team I put my faith in without worry, their integrity and standards are something other studios should and could learn from! CDPR’s next title is ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ and I eagerly await its release!
Fan of The Witcher? Tell me your favourite foes/ friends/ quests in the comments!
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