Published on June 1st, 2015 | by Hoops
REVIEW: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Summary: Developer CD Projekt Red reminds us magic and power fantasies come at a cost in the third instalment of The Witcher.
Concept: Built with a mixture of rich lore and mature content, and set inside a world brimming with flavour The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt showcases a darker side of fantasy RPGs, casting the player once again into the rippling and tortured torso of protagonist Geralt of Rivia. As a Witcher, it’s your job to bounty hunt the nasties who dotter the wide-reaching landscape, more often than not for a price, as nothing in this game comes without a cost. The portrayal of magic as a supernatural superpower in high fantasy videogames is transformed into a twisted curse, resulting in a broken landscape of people who’ve chased god-hood and found darkness. The Witcher owns this bleak perspective, and it’s honed further in Wild Hunt. As Geralt, you are on a quest to take down a hated enemy. While it’d be recommended you’d play the previous releases, developer CD Projekt Red has refined the mechanics in Wild Hunt to such a point that it would be hard to go back.
Graphics: Day night cycles are old hat, but travelling by horse or legging it through the swaps during dusk is breathtaking. Despite the murky subject matter, Wild Hunt excels in bringing its world and occupants to life with vivid colours and fluid animation. Loathsome supernatural creatures will twist, snarl and canter in their own unique way, staying with you long after you’ve laid them to rest with you blades. Wild Hunt is one of the best looking games on the current consoles, thanks in part to CD Projekt Red’s PC heritage.
Gameplay: You could spend months if not years roaming the countryside completing side questions, searching for ingredients for the crafting system or just exploring. The world is massive, the biggest yet, and sectioned into distinct locations each with their own unique locations, people, cultures and customs. Geralt’s movement in combat is much more fluid, and the changes to combat are more in line with what we’ve come to expect from third person action games. Wild Hunt follows tradition in being brutally honest when you attempt to take on multiple foes; it’s rarely going to end well. The check pointing system will default to the last safe location (often in the centre of town) meaning a wander off the path and sudden death is a deterrent rather than a punishment. If you crave adventure, excitement and mature subject matter; this will be your jam.
Sound: Dialogue is beautifully written, with the voice acting (at least in English) bringing the cast of Wild Hunt to life. I continue to be irked by Geralt’s American accent, which is at odds with every other character in the game that are a mixture of non-descript European backgrounds, but at least it’s consistent with previous games. Music and atmosphere is suitably eerie and world-builds perfectly.
Awesomeness: If you’ve been thinking about getting into The Witcher and haven’t as yet; do it now. Wild Hunt can be all consuming or a slow burn. It will keep you going over the coming months before the big releases hit later this year, and will give you a reason to showcase what your new consoles can do. CD Projekt Red continue to iterate on a world which is uniquely their own (albeit borrowed from a series of books), and long may they continue to do so.
Final Word: Given CD Projekt Red are based in Poland, we need and welcome more big releases from development studios outside of US, UK and Japan. Different voices influencing the type of games we play provide a different perspective. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has walked the fine line of broadening mechanics to reach an audience and has done so without losing it’s charm and flavour.
Paul ‘Hoops’ Houlihan Paul “Hoops” Houlihan is host of The Fourth Player Podcast, and ex-PR manager for publishers including THQ, SEGA and Capcom. Connect with Paul on Twitter at @paulyhouly or The Fourth Player at @PlayerFourth
Score out of 5 bugs
Summary: Summary: 1 = Poor, 2 = Average, 3 = Good, 4 = Great, 5 = Amazing