“The Witcher III” continues excellent legacy of the series

Luuk Van Hoomisen, Split Screen

“The Witcher III: Wild Hunt” is, always has been, and always will be a great game. It boasts one of the most detailed and massive playable game worlds I’ve seen in 22 years of gaming. Every part of the map is uniquely and intricately populated with enemies, NPCs, quests, Gwent cards … I’ll get to those later though. “The Witcher III” is absolutely stunning and has won more than 200 awards. It even won “game of the year” from multiple publications.

“The Witcher” series puts player in the role of Geralt of Rivia. Geralt is a witcher, meaning his body has been augmented by powerful magic and alchemy that makes him a fearless hunter with supernatural prowess and abilities. Witchers were created as a desperate defense against the myriad monstrosities that terrorize the Northern Kingdoms. While this may seem like a noble cause, witchers are received by the common folk as a necessary evil at best. At worst they are feared, seen as an ill omen, or attacked and arrested as criminal practitioners of magic. Geralt’s story in particular is rife with action, intrigue, horror, and even romance. Since this is the third installment of the series, there is far too much lore to get into in one column, but this game is absolutely loaded with exactly the kind of story content that you hope for in a high fantasy RPG.

The settings in this game are gorgeous. The map is huge with multiple countries, some with several cities such as Velen and the Skellige Isles and some with only one major feature like the witchers’ stronghold at Kaer Morhen. Every area is rendered with beautiful attention to detail. One of my favorite moments in ‘The Witcher III’ was raiding a swamp during a storm with a small militia. With the wind howling and the rain pouring it was a pretty intense scene, but I stopped in my tracks when I saw the trees were swaying. It was the most beautiful render I had ever seen in live gameplay. Trees swaying realistically in the rain as lightning flashed through the rain. All created through zeroes and ones. And that is just one small example of how CD Projekt RED left no stone unturned on this one. They went all out and they did a great job with it.

At first glance I actually hated the combat system of “The Witcher III.” It seemed too linear. A little bit clunky and if you took a couple of attacks it was almost impossible to get your health back up in time to avoid an unfortunate death. But after a while, I realized that the true glory in this game’s combat came in the form of battle preparations. Know your enemy. “The Witcher III” has a pretty extensive bestiary that gives you crucial information about what weapons, poisons, bombs, magic, and attack types are effective against any particular enemy. It is also important to equip the right potions that will give Geralt the bonuses that are useful in any particular fight. When you approach the game this way, it is actually an incredibly rewarding combat system as you get to watch your carefully laid plans come to fruition and defeat the big bad monster that seemed impossible on your first try.

If you prefer a battle of wits over one of swords, ”The Witcher III” also features a nifty card game called Gwent with 199 cards featuring characters from the game. It is surprisingly good, and often I find myself spending a lot more time on it than I mean to. If you really like it you can play in Gwent tournaments, or seek out the greatest Gwent players in the world. If you hate it, ignore it completely. Gwent is occasionally important to the main storyline, but for the most part it is just a fun little addon that can be used to kill a little extra time.

For me, “The Witcher III” is the perfect game to never finish. I’ve had it for over half a year now, and I keep coming back to it. It has so much content that it is way too much fun to get sidetracked with optional quests. Completing the main storyline is probably an attainable goal, but then what would I play when I get tired of everything else? Not “Dark Souls.” that game is frustrating.

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The opinons expressed in Van Hoomisen’s column do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Barometer staff.

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