The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Developer: CD Projekt RED
Publisher: CD Projekt
PS4, Xbox One, PC
Some open world games are designed to be played like games. There are things to collect, people to talk to, missions to complete, areas to liberate, towers to climb, (especially if you’re a Ubisoft game) all very gamey things to do. Some people describe these things as busy work put in by the developers to extend the life of the game.
One of the biggest triumphs of The Witcher 3 is that it feels so organically designed that even the developers don’t know what is going to happen next. The world of The Witcher is there to explore and the best way I can describe it is that stuff just happens as you wander around. There aren’t many games that achieve this but GTA5 and Red Dead Redemption spring to mind. I’ll never forget the time in GTA5 when a plane randomly fell out of the sky or I saw a drunk peeing up the side of a barn in Red Dead Redemption. It’s funny that I mention two Rockstar games because for my money there isn’t anyone else that can do open world games as well as them, until now.
Of course there is a narrative but The Witcher 3 feels like it has a living breathing world. I can almost imagine that when you shut off the console things continue to happen and the inhabitants of the world carry on until you decide to jump in again.
For example, I entered an encampment where I happened to hear a woman crying for help as some soldiers were attempting to rape her. I intervened and had the decision to help or walk away. That seemed to just randomly happen and wasn’t part of any quest line. For any of you wondering, yes of course I helped her! It is incredible to think that this may not have happened for the many other millions of players who have picked up this game. This is one of the reasons that The Witcher 3 stands out for me. Although this event probably did happen for other people, it feels personal to me and this is happening in my world and nobody else’s.
Another triumph of the game is the writing and dialogue. This is without doubt one of the best written and acted games I have ever played! The characters are absolutely stunning and have huge depth. As Geralt of Rivia, you make decisions that can affect how people see you and also affect the inhabitants of the land. The woman I mentioned earlier possibly wouldn’t have been in danger if I had made a different decision and the original commander of the settlement was still alive. Who knows, but that really is the beauty of The Witcher 3.
As a Witcher you could be described as a mercenary, prepared to take jobs hunting dangerous monsters for coin. This in itself is incredible as you have to research each monster before taking them on. There are literally hundreds of quests in the game ranging from primary and secondary missions. The Bloody Baron will be familiar to people who have played this game and it is simply incredible! You follow these characters on such a journey and this single quest is infinitely better and has more emotional content than many other single player games on the market. The fact that this is an optional quest line and could be overlooked if you chose to focus purely on the primary narrative blows my mind.
The Witcher 3 isn’t just a serious RPG as there are also real moments which are laugh out loud. Playing as Geralt you have a sense of power but his dry wit is really brought to life through the marvellous Doug Cockle.
I could write pages and pages about how much I love this game so all I can really say is CD Projekt Red have created one of the best games ever made! Not only that, they have continually supported the game with updates, patches and free DLC. Yes free DLC! These days that is almost unthinkable with big companies wanting to squeeze every penny out of us, but CD Projekt Red have thanked the fans for their support and as such I am happy to give them more money for the expansions. I haven’t played it yet but Hearts of Stone has received overwhelming praise and doesn’t appear to be a cynical cash grab.
CD Projekt Red obviously love the subject matter which is part of the reason I love it so much. It is corny to say it but their blood, sweat, tears and hard work are so apparent that I can’t praise them enough. My final thoughts are that I can see me losing myself in this world for a very very long time to come and THANK YOU to all involved at CD Projekt Red for making this marvellous game.
Review by Chris (co-host of 60 Minutes With and The Same Coin)