Having finally finished up The Witcher 3 a few months back (it only took me almost a year to complete) all I can sing are praises for this game, The Witcher 3 will forever be one of my all-time favorite games. I don’t care what arguments are thrown against it, this game flips the script, and stands on solid ground. With the release of Blood and Wine, the second, and final expansion (following Hearts of Stone) for The Witcher 3, I find myself diving back in, head first, into one of the greatest adventures in gaming memory. I really didn’t think I would be coming back to this game. I mean if you are anyone who has played it, you know its massive—just insanely massive. Not only that, but the world is filled to the brim with things to do, and see. So maybe that is why I find myself booting up a new game+, because I get to do it all over again, and eventually make my way over to both of the DLC.
At the same time, maybe booting a new game+ is my way of holding on to something I just don’t want to let go. Sure I’ll eventually come to the DLC, but am I just eking out all I can from Geralt (the games protagonist), and if he knew I’m sure he wouldn’t be in favor—I mean all the man wants to do is retire, he’s only been hunting monsters for a hundred odd years or so. I’d want to retire too, and this is just one of the reason’s this game is so enjoyable, I know I have the choice to play it or not, but when I begin to feel the weight of the actual character I’m playing—it seems the connection only goes deeper. It’s funny to think this specific instance relates to feeling Geralt’s age. By having experienced once what is happening in this world, and being part of its history, makes me understand all the better what I’m in for the second time—allowing me to fully envelope myself in who Geralt is, and the world I am part of.
I really can’t think of a game as lived in as this world. As you move through the world you see; villages burned, bodies hanging from trees, extreme racism, and so much more. This is a world that seems to go on without you, even apparent in just how everyone treats Geralt when they encounter him. Why should they care, or know who you are, when they have their own lives and squabbles to worry about. All you are in their eye’s is a freak or someone who can fix a problem—in this case, monsters. Because that is all Geralt is, someone doing their job. Sure you may get swept up in the politics of the world around you but even then, when you’re not around, the world keeps moving on, without you, or at least creates the illusion of such.
This might be the lynch pin of what makes this game just so freaking appealing. It blends the boundaries of two genres and makes it in to something brilliant. The Witcher 3 is not an open world game, it’s an adventure game—yet it presents itself in a way that you feel it’s an open world game. Done in a simple way, the game generates what goes on around you as you move through it, and because there is so much happening in the environment it makes the world come to life. This richness is not seen in many games, Skyrim is a great game don’t get me wrong, but at times it felt dead, just a lonely soul wandering. When I enter a village in The Witcher people are going about their lives; working, doing chores, running inside their homes when they see me. Even the richness of the dialog among NPC’s adds a certain spice most games just don’t have.
The fact is, the player is playing Geralt and his story is already laid out, he has lived a full life, coming into his twilight years of Witching (he’s old for sure but don’t worry he’s a Witcher he has many years ahead of him), all he’s trying to do is one last thing, and then it’s time to hang up the ol’ broadswords, and leave the days of hunting monsters behind him (I mean if you’ve seen the dudes body you know that’s probably a good call). As I aforementioned, Geralt is well defined character at this point, and I find myself not only enjoying the game more, but understanding what kind of decisions he might actually make. I played the game a certain way the first time (even got Ciri to become a Witcher), and while I’m remaining true to that play style, I am approaching situations in just slightly different ways, pausing to really think about what Geralt would do. Now that I understand who Geralt is, and the world I am a part of—I find myself enjoying it all the more, and maybe this is why I just can’t let go.
I don’t know if CD Projekt Red will give us more stories from this fantastic world they have nurtured, and created over the years (yes I know it’s based on a book), but I look forward to anything they bring to the table. Recently I’ve seen articles on saying our farewells to Geralt, yet that’s what I wanted to get across, I am by no means done with his story just yet. I’ve fallen in love all over again and I’m more than happy to pour time, and energy into this game. There is a long list of games I want to play on the horizon, it’s a fantastic time for games—I will always set aside time for Geralt though, and I’m OK with that. Eventually I know I’ll have to say my goodbyes, just not quite yet.
Geralt I look forward to the adventures to come, thank you for all the good times, let’s keep slaying, and eventually you’ll get the rest you’ve so desired. One more time old friend.