The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Geralt of Rivia, the most badass video game protagonist this side of Doomguy, makes his triumphant return in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Following on from the acclaimed Assassins of Kings, Wild Hunt continues our brave heroes’ journey into new territory, taking a more personal approach to this chapter of his life. The story takes place around the Wild Hunt, a force and event we’ve heard mentioned over and over again throughout the series, but never having had its dark shroud of mystery truly explored until now. The Hunt leaves naught but blood and chaos in its wake, and of course, who else can stop it but our dear monster hunter, Geralt? Details are still kind of scarce surrounding this otherworldly enemy, but with good reason, with The Witcher known for featuring very deep stories which are explored as the player progresses. If you want the truth, you’ll have to earn it, through blood and steel.
The franchise was started back in the early 90’s in a series of books by Polish powerhouse fantasy author Andrzej Sapkowski, and has even been blessed with a terrible TV series and movie… but it wasn’t until the franchise found itself in the video game world that it received the worldly recognition and praise it deserves. While players new to the series could easily pick up the second instalment with no prior knowledge and find themselves with a perfect starting point – due to the characters amnesia – Wild Hunt is aimed more towards those who’ve at least experienced the narrative of the series’ last game. No amnesia this time around I’m afraid. So if this game looks to tickle your fancy in just the right ways, you’d be wise to pick up a copy of Assassins of Kings if you haven’t already given it a once over. You won’t be disappointed.
The previous Witcher games are both very large RPGs, at least as far as scale and story is concerned, but did fall short of the actual freedom aspect. Wild Hunt is looking to fix that, delivering an open world which the developers, Poland’s CD Projekt RED, have described as being “a living open world larger than any other in modern RPG history”, which while a very bold statement, one that initial footage actually does back up.
What we’ve seen of Wild Hunt suggests that the end product is pushing to be a game of unparalleled size and scope, and I just hope CD Projekt know how to utilize the space to ensure we’re not just wandering a purposefully gigantic game world with little in the way of well-paced or placed content. But assuming the developers, who I may add have never delivered anything under masterful, deliver on their promise of 100 hours of gameplay (50 for the main campaign, and 50 for sidequests), we shouldn’t have any problems finding something to do and someone to kill as we explore the Northern Kingdoms.
If you’re unaware, Geralt is a Witcher, which is a mutant essentially created to hunt monsters. Never mind the commentary the game often provides on being different and the challenges that go with it, we’re all about the monster slaying part here, and thankfully Wild Hunt will have it in spades. With 80 different types of monsters or creatures to cull, the player must adapt and learn the strengths and weaknesses of his enemies. Coupled with dynamic changes to tactics depending on environments and time of day, combat should be proficiently challenging and engaging. The basics from The Witcher 2 are rearing their head again, albeit with a fresh coat of paint, mixing swordplay and magic in ways that can complement each other, and however the player likes to approach a situation. Personally, I put the magic on the backburner and get in close and personal for some good old-fashioned stabbing.
After a recent delay, pushing the title back into 2015, CD Projekt RED are pulling all stops to polish up and deliver what hopefully gives Geralt a worth send off. Wild Hunt is the last in the trilogy, and the end of Geralts story, but we’ve been assured it’s not the last of the franchise or the universe in the gaming world. The Witcher 3 is most definitely going to set the bar for modern RPGs higher than ever – a bar too, which the industry has been hard pressed to reach since Assassins of Kings raised it those few years ago.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt released February 25th, 2015 on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.