Son of a Witch or Son of a...
“You can even see your reflection in the puddles as you ride past them”. This was something I found myself saying to Chris when explaining how the Witcher on PS4 looks. Neither of us are usually overly concerned with how a game looks bit this is an example of how impressed I was by the look of the world inhabited by our favourite albino monster slayer.
Whilst I did enjoy the previous iterations of the Witcher series, never has my mind be so preoccupied with a game whilst away from it as it was with this release. Stunning graphics, familiar easy to learn hard to master fighting mechanics, a fleshed out world that feels raw and lived in and a myriad of quests and things to do with your time make the Witcher3 a must have for any fan of western RPGs.
A huge map in which no part seems “filler” makes taking on the world of the Witcher a constant joy. Whilst you can fast travel from village signposts the game often makes you actually want to travel by foot or Roach (our hero’s trusty steed) because so much can be missed en route. Whether it’s a bandit camp which could be hiding a treasure chest or a fallen civilian who’s pockets hold a treasure map, the exploration in the world is always rewarded by loot or story.
Unlike many fantasy RPGs there are very few fetch and carry missions and most of the “Go here, kill that” quests allow you to flex your monster slaying muscles and feel like a genuine Bada55. The lore of the games based on Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski’s books is stronger with each of the released games and this is no exception with a wide variety of enemies to study and learn how to take down both from human and fantasy species.
Between hunting down and slaying mythical beasts, clearing out Drowner infested villages, following the clues to find long lost legendary Witcher armour, seducing pretty female mages, putting Roach through his paces at the local racetrack and passing more hours than I care to mention playing Gwent (the in game gambling card game similar to Magic) I never found myself at a loss of something to do in the game world. For me this really was one of those games where you have to set an alarm to remind yourself to go to bed as “just one more mission” often lead to a crazy late night and zombie like performance at the office the next day.
The RPG progression of the game really feels like you are shaping your character the way you want to play. The armour you select is always a balancing act between protection and the regeneration of your fighting stamina, the signs (spells) you choose to upgrade open up further dialogue options or increase your ability to take down specific foes. The best equipment can be crafted with Master Craftsmen dotted around the world after finding the recipes for them which further increases your desire to explore every cave, nook and cranny of this beautiful world.
One thing to add about the look and feel of the world the designers have created is that this is not a happy country. War torn beyond recognition the traders have very little money to part with, homeless and the dead litter the streets and bandits are always ready to try and take your money. This is far from the High Fantasy we have come to expect from games like the Elder Scrolls which gives the earthy feeling of being grounded in this dirty, cutthroat land.
I really cannot recommend this game enough to any fans of RPG gaming. It’s a must have for the console and if it is a sign of things to come then I am excited for the future.