Instead of going on about an endless triage of gushing about the phenomenal main quest, just as spectacular side quests, and all the other things that make this the best RPG I've played to date, I'm just going to simply say that this is a must-play title, and it's endlessly rewarding. Spent a total of 68 hours in my run of the game (still have contracts and some side quests to do, let alone the gigantic expansion packs), and it was a blissful 68 hours at that.
Rightfully hailed as the RPG of the decade, Witcher 3 is nonetheless not a flawless ride. The visuals are splendid and the musical atmosphere has that distinct Slavic identity, but the controls are really janky and there is just too much content - superfluous Skellige seems to be there only to bloat an already gargantuan game. Also the main plot is all over the place, which makes for terrible pacing and many unnecessary twists. Because of this, and despite how memorable it is, Witcher 3 does not deserve a perfect score.
Let it be on record that CD Projekt Red is a master at worldbuilding and narrative prose, which oozes out of every nook and cranny from White Orchard to Toussaint. That said they are probably too tied to the craft of making a genuine true-to-Geralt game that they intentionally cut down design decisions that would actually make the gameplay good.
Narratively, Witcher 3 stands atop very well if not completely amazing. The first Act of the story is decently well paced although the bits before Velen were uninteresting save for some bits of the fanservice to bookreaders that wasn't really enough to tide me over, but overall it's remarkably well written from the quest-tied sidequests to the entire arcs relegated to Novigrad and Skellige. The second Act is phenomenal, with one particular quest that is probably my favorite of the game because it also ties in the gameplay decently too. The third act however is a crock of utter shit and it's clear that the finale was a rushed first draft which is a real shame. But despite this, the cavalcade of great well fleshed out characters and remarkably well done prose left me more than satisfied upon finishing.
Gameplay wise, other than the strong world and map design it falls completely on its face. Combat ranges from Quen to win to potion knowledge tests that are not interesting to concoct or plan around. There are a few exceptions but generally the combat is so restrictive and asinine to pull off and especially with how often you do it that it brings the whole game down terribly. A major sticking point I'll throw as evidence against it is that you have no freedom over which animation Geralt uses when attacking any enemy. It's a clear attempt to make Geralt play out his movements in the book but because you're so restricted to any random particular animation you get near enemies, combat on higher difficulties requires you to play so utterly safe and in such an uninteresting way and on lower difficulties is not satisfying at all as it becomes pure mashing. There's no sweet spot to be had here.
A couple bullet points of the DLC to add onto this before concluding:
Hearts of Stone has the best narrative storytelling especially with the quest within the world of the painting. It also has combat encounters that require a bit more thinking and leaves this DLC particularly in a fantastic corner.
Blood and Wine is 2 parts fantastic characterization and worldbuilding and one part a garbage final act that ends up actually worse than TW3 base's final act. It's still phenomenal overall due to the highs it gets to but what an absolute disappointment in the end.
Overall I find Witcher 3 to be a very good game, and I hope CD Projekt Red learns from their mistakes with Cyberpunk to actually make the gameplay part good instead of just their writing team. (7.5/10)
LONG REVIEW (Covers main game + both expansions)
This game is overrated! is probably what your thoughts will be as a person who straight jumped into the 3rd Witcher game, it’s a massive game, and your opinion about it would count after at least 30 hours which is almost the time to play a new game, those who feel overwhelmed by it and found it tedious will probably not wait for ~30 hours to decide. Which is unfortunate, as its only after about 30 hours that this game progresses from something that is tedious/slow/overwhelming to come show itself to be one of the most polished deep video games that's been made to date. And when I say deep I don’t meant it to be very abstract in its writing, or bombarding the player with themes and theories that they couldn’t have up with, in fact there is nothing very deep or unexpected in it. What it has however is a sense of scale that is unsurpassed in any video game I've ever played.
The Witcher 3 continues the story of Geralt of Rivia, a known monster slayer aka Witcher who …you guessed it ..kills monster! After the events of the Witcher 1 & 2 Geralt has restored his memory and now he is searching for his former partner Yennefer of Vengerberg, Geralt with Yennefer have to look for Ciri who is constantly on run and is being chased by the "Wild Hunt"
The story starts slow as Geralt wants to find Ciri his adopted daughter, the game just like its prequels consists of prologue, acts, epilogue, the prologue starts with a tutorial area called White Orchard which teaches the player about the game and introduces them to its basics, it is this part that is slow and tedious because the game didn’t kick in yet, the game continues with act 1 main goal which is to find Ciri, the story may seem very simple as you have to look for a character but inside the journey Geralt will meet very complex characters and the main quests start going branching paths to side quests who are among the greatest side quests ever written in gaming. The game continues with ACT 2 and takes into the epic battle genre this time, in this act the game has lord of the rings vibes, an epic battle, which then continues on its epic scale into ACT 3, until the epilogue which can vary depending on the player decisions in the game. No matter what ending the player gets it always has something great and emotional behind it.
The story doesn’t end there, after the main game CD project RED introduces an expansion (Hearts of Stone) which is a short story expansion that blew my mind at how smartly written and engaging it is, the expansions introduces one of the most cunning and mysterious villains in history of gaming, and another equally amazing character. Unlike the main game in terms of side quests the quantity is very low, as the main focus here was to tell the short story in the main quest. The expansion also added some of the best boss fights in the whole series, boss fights that were a huge step up from the main game, requiring more mechanics to beat and having more advanced pattern.
The story progresses afterwards to reach the second expansion (Blood and Wine) which marks the end of Geralt journey, in my opinion an expansion one of its kind, very huge area that is also very beautiful, contains some of my favorite characters in the series, the expansion starts as a murder mystery then progresses into something fairytale-like that is full of neat references to famous books and finishes with one of the most memorable boss fights I have ever had in gaming.
It has to be noticed I have not mentioned the other aspects of the game, which I will cover in short. The Gameplay itself is very good, and while the combat and controls may feel clunky at first it won't take much time to get used to them, which afterwards Geralt feels like a dancing swordsman which is what he really is (according to the books and the lore). The combat itself is fairly basic and limited (again because of the lore) and contains light/heavy attack and dodge(side-step)/Roll buttons as well as having signs (mini-magic) it has similarities to Batman combat system, however I find the combat to start getting more advanced and having more depth once the players starts going with alchemy (bombs-oils-decoctions-potions) which basically adds new abilities to the gameplay, on higher difficulties the player needs to take advantage of monsters, read about their weakness and use the Witcher tools to overcome the challenge, the gameplay progresses by increasing levels and unlocking more skills to make various builds and especially around the second expansions it adds another layer to it by adding something called mutations. There are a lot of monsters and each has interesting ideas and design behind them. The dialogue choices are impactful and then there is one of my favorite mini games ever made called Gwent, a tactical card game that is really enjoyable, I sunk many hours into it while forgetting about the quests that im doing.
The Music is Slavic inspired and feels folklorish, its simple music most of the time, not an orchestra type of music, its simple and has as Geralt says "Nice Tune" it contains many memorable soundtracks.
The voice acting is greatly done as well, there is a difference in accents between regions which strongly showcase the different cultures the game tries to portray.
The art direction is simply breathtaking, the game is very screenshot worthy, to understand this point simply go to any thread on the internet and check for Witcher 3 shots, preferably on PC high settings and the amount of details and beautiful art design is mindblowing. It looks amazing.
The character cast is among my favorite, they have great distinct personalities, they have good development and backstory counting the previous games as well, some of the most complex and well written characters in gaming are presented in Witcher series, memorable cast with beautiful design and nice personality. You may notice most characters are not really good and not really bad, its shades of gray as in Witcher world there is no absolute evil or good.
In-Conclusion the game is open world story driven rpg, the main draw behind the game is its worldbuilding and writing which has main & side quests and characters. The game has the other good aspects as well, but if you are into open world story driven rpg games I cannot recommend this one enough, it is a must play game and is truly among the greatest games of all time, its recommended that you at least be familiar with the prequels Witcher 1 and Witcher 2 at least, to further understand the story better and enhance your experience and immersion.
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No star rating on this because I have abandoned it. I am interested in the story, but the controls, combat system, UI, and very intense micromanaged RPG system is a prohibitive barrier to me. I want to experience an RPG fantasy saga, not have to wonder why my sword has swung through the air instead of the drowner's torso.
Close to a 5-star, but the combat holds it back. Not just how basic it is (spam Dodge & abuse Quen), but the lack of variety as well, especially in human opponents. For how long the game is, they really should've saved more monsters for later areas. By Lv 20, the game has nothing further to offer in challenge, save DLC. TW3 truly excels in the exploration and freedom offered, as those first hours in Velen & Novigrad were godly. But overall, TW 1-3 are all dope.
Such an overrated game.
The graphics are pretty great.
Controls are pretty clunky sometimes.
Dialogue and story is just really uninteresting to me. Lore feels like generic fantasy mixed with European folklore. Nothing really original or inventive.
Combat is literally just dodging and using Quen.
Character customization is extremely limited.
Development of different professions is cut off super early and then doesn't even get expanded in later expansions.
No reason to collect anything. Just a bunch of random items that have nothing to them.
On the surface, it's a great game, but once you think about it there's nothing really to it. It's a big game that kind of falls over itself.