The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Review
The Witcher 3 is probably one of the most anticipated RPG games of the current generation of PC's/Consoles and despite the delays I have to say the wait has been worth it!
For those who are wondering if you can play this game without experiencing the previous titles in the series first, then fear not, as I hold my hands up and admit I never did and this has not really impacted my enjoyment of the game whatsoever.
There are probably only a few bits in the game which I have experienced that left me scratching my head and I think these were trying to call upon knowledge of previous games (thus a bit of guess work was required when answering questions from one of the supporting characters you come across) but the results did not seem to make any difference to the gameplay so it’s all good.
In terms of background, you once again take on the role of Geralt of Rivia (a famed Witcher) and while the opening cutscenes are a touch confusing – having taken the role of what appears to be a dream sequence – you are pretty much tasked with finding Yennefer (the love of Geralt) and Ciri (no, not Siri before you ask, but Geralt's adoptive daughter). Mind you the latter main story is sometimes overshadowed by the excellent side quests, which for me I have been spending most of my time doing!
Exploration is key with The Witcher 3 (especially if you want to level up quicker) and the massive open world is just brimming with things to discover. From what I can tell the setting takes place in a civil war, so some of the landscape is littered with signs of battle, villages in disarray or people left wondering around just trying to get on with life and make a living.
From the off graphically this has to be the best in-game graphics I have ever seen on a console and yes I was playing on the Xbox One version which has the so called dynamic resolution. The use of lighting, dynamic weather effects and the way the wind interact with the objects littering the world is truly fantastic and it’s probably the first game where the cut-scenes are over shadowed by the in-game ones!
Mind you the opening sequences did highlight one of the games reported frame rate issues and while the problem is being addressed as we speak it did pit a minor dampener on matters*.
Thankfully in-game the frame issues were not so much of a problem and as I was saying earlier the need for exploration and taking on side quests is excellent - thanks also to the game play mechanics and the superb voice acting which brings the Q & A conversations with them to life. Speaking of which the Q & A certainly have a moral compass and you can turn your character into a bit of emotionless git or go into hero mode – it’s up to you how you play.
In some ways these sections remind me of Skyrim, so if you were a fan of the latter then you will certainly enjoy this game that’s for sure.
*Update: The 1.03 Patch was released the other day and I can happily say the frame rate issue have pretty much been resolved and it is a heck of a lot smoother! Hurrah!
Red Dead Redemption
Traversing the massive open world is no quick task and it’s here you get the feeling of Red Dead Redemption, especially as your trusty Horse Roach is only a whistle away from allowing you to traverse the landscape on your trusty steed. Alternatively as you discover areas on the map you can set sail in boats, swim underwater to discover hidden treasures or jump/clamber over objects to reach new places. A fast travel system between sign posts is also available so if you don’t want to travel by horseback there are alternatives.
Additionally a mini map is deployed on screen (and this shows you a dotted line for where you need to travel to take on quests - if you are on foot or by horse). While some purists may not appreciate this (you can turn it off mind) I personally found it a god send for knowing how to traverse the world, otherwise I would have been lost!
Quests themselves are also easy to select, from either the main menu or by using the thumbstick to quickly push down on a quest as it pops up on screen.
Learning the Ropes
Heading into the tutorial is a good idea to help you learn the ropes of the game to begin with because this is an RPG after all and there are a lot of options to choose/manipulate.
However once you spend time with the controls/interface you soon start to grasp the mechanics and the complex system is actually designed in such a way that you can be manipulating the latter with ease after a short time.
One of the Witcher options I really love is the Witcher sense (think Batman detective mode), which is designed to help you explore/locate enemies and search for clues in a Sherlock Holmes kind of way.
A great example of this is with one of the first side missions you can take on (usually side quests can be found on notice boards in the town or when speaking with characters). It involves removing a ghastly Spectre from the local well – which prevents the inhabitants from getting water.
You can use your Witcher sense here to look for clues in how to find and destroy the latter. Completing the mission also teaches you that certain creatures can be killed more effectively if you do research. A lot of the research can be gleamed in your Bestiary glossary (accessed from the main interface) and this could indicate that drinking a potion or casting a spell has more effect over certain creatures, more than others.
This turns the combat into a pre-planning phase for some of the harder foes you can encounter, such as a giant griffin!