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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Review

Replay Value:
Overall Rating:
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
CD Projekt Red
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
May 19, 2015

By all rights, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt should’ve been the defining game of a generation. It had all the potential in the world and although it’s arguably the most ambitious video game to release in years, it remains frustratingly unreliable and unstable. It’s one of those games you can’t stop playing but despite your love of the adventure, you can’t go an hour without noticing another technical problem. Does it dull the luster of the sheen on Geralt’s swords? Does it keep us from enjoying a massive achievement, regardless of the drawbacks? No, but to gloss over it or worse, to ignore it altogether, is to give developers and publishers license to keep doing it.

I’ll make this plain: If the game ran well, it’s a 9.5, easy. It’s maybe even a 10. Now, to business:

The graphics often leave one mesmerized. Simply wandering though this vast landscape is enough to drop one’s jaw, as the windswept plains, lofty mountain peaks, and dank marshes all have a hefty impact on our immersion and overall enjoyment. Character and enemy detailing and animations are unparalleled, the sheer size and scope of the world is mind-boggling (and almost always beautiful), and the amount of variety one encounters in just one play-session is wildly impressive. It’s a mammoth visual accomplishment, to be sure. And yet, the technical instability leads to frequent glitches – such as one instance where exploding enemies caused my screen to absolutely freak out – and as such, this category cannot receive a 10.

The sound is also excellent and almost flawless. Perhaps one of the most awe-inspiring elements centers on the wide gamut of excellent voice performances; even NPCs are wonderfully voiced. The soundtrack ranges from slow and melancholy go lively and epic; the effects of combat – the clash of steel on steel, the grunts and cries of monsters, etc. – are profound, and the villages resound with human life. It’s a vivacious, sweeping audio display that only occasionally sinks too far into the background when exploring abroad. Such a stellar soundtrack should kick in more often, in my estimation but aside from that, the sound in this game is top-notch. Simply walk through a town, engage in a few fights, and explore for an hour or so, and you’ll hear truly authentic aural grandeur.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is such a gigantic undertaking that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Should we start with the core gameplay or the fact that this is one of the most involved, demanding, and intricate interactive adventures to ever exist? Should we tackle the surprisingly unique method of telling a narrative within an open-world structure that often puts the kibosh on any good story? Or do we dive into the nuts and bolts of control, from riding a horse to swimming to combat? Maybe it’s best to start with the sense of wonder the game evokes, because this is honestly what keeps you coming back for more. You always want to discover what lies beyond that next hill and herein lies the genius of the game.

At first, you wander about a relatively attractive and benign area known as White Orchard. You’ll fight a few monsters and bandits, learn about Crafting and Alchemy, get a feel for Geralt’s movement when on foot, on horseback, and in the water, and get accustomed to the idiosyncrasies of fighting (more on that later). You’re chasing the sorceress Yennefer, who is obviously someone of romantic importance to Geralt, and you’re also treated to a flashback scene where we meet other important characters. This includes Ciri, a young girl training to be a Witcher, and someone who will become a major element of the plot. White Orchard isn’t enormous but it’s good-sized and the learning curve and pacing feels just about right.