The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Review

Lee Bradley

I absolutely adored The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. One of my favourite last-gen RPGs, the story of grizzled monster hunter Geralt of Rivia impressed with brave splintering narratives, impressive visuals and an authentic interpretation of the world and characters created by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. None of this Tolkien nonsense, The Witcher 2 was Game of Thrones doused in Polish vodka and smeared with an extra layer of mud and blood.

Yet it wasn’t perfect. Despite my glowing review, I still identified a wishlist of improvements I would have loved to see in a sequel. Broadly speaking they were; a more focused story in which Geralt has more agency, more being a witcher (monster hunting), and a larger world. Fast forward three years and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has delivered on every single one of my “make it bigger and better please” desires in a spectacular manner. A huge improvement over its predecessor, it's an easy contender for best RPG of the year.

Geralt's approach to brain surgery: unsubtle.

The Witcher 3 is, essentially, a story about parenthood. With Geralt once more taking centre stage, the game follows his attempts to track down Ciri - a young woman he considers to be his daughter. But Geralt’s not the only one on the trail of this mysteriously powerful girl. The Wild Hunt, a procession of powerful magical warriors on horseback, are also in pursuit. Geralt must find Ciri quickly, or risk losing her forever. The desperation of Geralt’s search is made all the more poignant by the frequent flashbacks in which you take control of Ciri, showing just how close yet out of reach she is.

The Witcher 3 is a huge game, spread across a vast continent encompassing boggy swampland, idyllic fields, rocky islands and sprawling cities, in which Geralt will encounter beggars, monsters, kings and thieves. Yet despite the grand nature of his adventure, the stories Geralt encounters are always personal. This is a game about people and relationships, wives and husbands, fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters. The Witcher 3 gains greatly from this more intimate approach. You’ll care about the people you meet and you’ll invest in their story - far more than if developers CD Projekt RED had concocted some apocalyptic scenario for you to prevent. It’s wonderful stuff.

You’re allowed a great degree of influence over the specifics of each of these stories too. Whether you talk your way out of a situation, use aggression to solve the problem, bust out your Jedi mind trick-like Axii magic, or choose to be ruthless or compassionate, it feels like you have sway over each story and it feels like these choices have far-reaching ramifications. Put it this way: I invested hours into cultivating one relationship for a particular goal, only to balls it up disastrously at the last minute with a single unwise dialogue choice. Your actions have real consequences.

Away from the main story and one of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s headline additions is monster hunting. It’s what Witchers are trained to do, but the profession has been woefully underrepresented in previous instalments. Here, it’s a big deal. In every town, village and city you’ll stumble across requests to take down some big, bad nasty - a vile beast that’s been terrifying the locals. It’s up to you to research its weaknesses, gather and prepare the resources you’ll need, then hunt it down and slay it with magic, your silver sword, bombs or whatever tools you have at hand. There are scores of these contracts up for grabs, with increasingly large monsters and rewards in the offing.

Perhaps most impressive is how smoothly Geralt’s profession is woven into his adventure. Sure, you can ignore the monster hunting for the most part, should you choose to, but Geralt’s abilities as a witcher bleed into everything he does. He’s essentially a detective, questioning locals and using his heightened sense of smell and vision to track down friend and foe alike. Whether you’re actively choosing to be a witcher or not, Geralt’s unique skills define him. Even when you’re not witching, you’re still a witcher. If you know what I mean.

Not everything about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is perfect. The trail on your mini-map can be a bit temperamental, the combat (largely the same as in TW2) is a little unrefined, the friendly AI is a bit dumb, the frame rate suffers in moments of cluttered action and the crafting and alchemy menus are super fiddly. There are rough edges, for sure. But none of them impacted my enjoyment of the game and besides, there’s a day one patch coming that should iron out some of the wrinkles, so it’s not worth worrying about too much. The Witcher 3’s numerous qualities far outweigh its shortcomings.

Barbecue troll, anyone?

It’s hard to communicate just how huge and varied The Witcher 3 is. Over the course of around 50+ hours I’ve played hide and seek with swamp orphans, performed in a musical, hunted down griffins and giants and embarked upon a terrifying sea journey in a rickety little boat as whales and sirens splashed around me. I’ve reconciled lovers, met old friends, found treasure and helped crown kings across what’s possibly the largest game world I’ve ever encountered. Yet still I know I’m nowhere near experiencing all there is to offer. There are loads of Witcher contracts I’ve yet to complete, vast swathes of land I’ve yet to explore and scores of missions I’ve yet to engage in.

I’ll return to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt eventually, possibly on a higher difficulty setting (Wild Hunt is far easier than Assassins of Kings), but not before I tell you this: you should buy The Witcher 3. It’s one of the most unique, distinctive, vast and varied western RPGs I’ve played in years and it contains hundreds of brilliant stories that you simply must experience. Buy it, stick it in your disc tray, pull the curtains and prepare to be transported. You won't want to leave the house for weeks.


The voice acting is wonderfully characterful (with the exception of the deliberately dour old Geralt) and the dialogue pleasingly earthy. The occasionally brilliant Slavic folk-inspired score helps deliver the game’s distinctive tone.

Remarkable, considering the scope of the game. From cluttered city streets to dank caves and wide, flowing fields, the world of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt feels alive and looks utterly beautiful. Packing this much detail into a game so large ain’t easy.

The combat is solid enough, although perhaps a little rough around the edges, but the real joy of The Witcher 3 comes from exploring, hunting and making your mark on the game’s vast and engaging story. What you do and say matters as much as who and what you kill.

The Witcher 3’s world is huge and filled with entertaining activities and side quests, each of which feels vital. Whether you’re following the main story missions, playing cards in the pub, monster hunting, brawling or exploring the game’s numerous other deviations, you’re in for a treat.

This is a good list, rewarding an exploration of all of the game’s activities and encouraging you to come back after the credits have rolled to take on extra challenges and attempt different approaches. It’s a great excuse to continue playing a truly brilliant game. Just don’t expect to get the Platinum in a hurry.

Despite its vast scope, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt tells a personal, intimate and touching story, filled with characters you’ll love and hate, and stuffed with monsters to slay. I completed the main storyline in around 50 hours and - yes I know this is a cliche - I’ve barely scratched the surface. The Witcher 3 is an astounding achievement.

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