It has been a long time since a game has hooked me in this fashion.
I mean, I tend to get pretty immersed in certain open-world games, anyway. It's why the Grand Theft Auto and Assassin's Creed titles are some of my favorites of all time.
However, I've always been a little stymied when it came to open-world RPGs. Perhaps it's because, stemming from my love of linear, story-driven RPGs in the original PlayStation days, I really don't like playing RPGs where the narrative essentially disappears in the first hour. And that's really not what happens in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt . In fact, in so many ways, it plays very much like a linear adventure because you're always drawn to the next main mission, and as main missions are your primary source of experience (secondary stuff is often just for money and equipment), there's an excellent balance between extras and the main story.
Or, maybe it's just because it's the gameplay balance that strikes me. You never feel overpowered and you never feel under-powered; you never feel as if you're wandering over barren stretches of land with nothing to see or do for miles, and you're never inundated with enemies and quests. Towns are nicely appointed and you want to explore, but you don't want to spend your life ransacking people's homes because for the most part, the practice doesn't yield much. It's as if the developer did absolutely everything in their power to keep the game moving at a steady, satisfying clip. And that ain't easy to do when you're talking about a game that's this huge.
Three hours of game time disappears in the blink of an eye, that's all I know. Can't remember the last time that happened to me. And yes, I'm aware that people can't figure out how I can love a game so much and still give it an 8.7 . But I'm not going to explain myself again. 🙂