It’s been one year since the release of Witcher 3 (Technically, 1 year and 2 days) and well, I thought, ‘Why not write an article on my favourite and most memorable game ever’. I know this sounds a bit ridiculous, writing an article on a game just one year after a game has launched, but this is a result of the respect and love I hold for this game.
Also, many of you reading this post will probably already know the story, but for those who are looking to pick up the game in the coming weeks, THERE ARE HEAVY SPOILERS AHEAD, CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED.
The game has earned many critic awards, in fact it has the most awards in gaming history, sitting atop with 251 and has also been commercially successful, which is a great sight to see. We all liked the game, and many of our opinions come under an intersection at many aspects of the game such as narrative, gameplay, story, graphics etc, but for each one of you, there might be a thousand other reasons of why you liked the game .
Well, here are my thoughts on why I think that this game is the KING of all games.
Starting with our protagonist, Geralt of Rivia, the name itself has a different feel to it. Throughout the game, you’ll find very few people having such a naming scheme, the only other in my memory being Yennefer of Vengenburg (Troll of Nilfgard, maybe?). None of the other characters are referred to in such a way. If you dig a bit into history (For those who haven’t read the books or played the previous games), Geralt’s past adventures have also resulted in him being coined titles like Butcher of Blaviken, The White Wolf etc and all these names just SCREAM badass, especially if you read the stories behind those names.
The Witcher 3 starts off as a dream of Geralt in which he senses that Ciri (His surrogate daughter) is in danger from the Wild Hunt. From this point onward, a story unfolds which makes you feel happy, satisfied, amused,excited, angry, sad, guilt, powerless, helpless etc, all in some part of the game. A wide range of emotions in a short period of time many a times overwhelms a player to the point where you have to pause it to take it all in. Twists and turns are very common in this game and sometimes make you wonder about your past decisions (A lot).
For example, the quest, The Bloody Baron has so many twists and turns that I had to actually quit the game after completing a part of the game-to actually think of why I released the spirit trapped under the Whispering Willock. It just felt tragic and I know I could have changed it by going back to the previous save, but I seriously didn’t feel like it. After the whole quest is over the emotional turmoil within the Baron’s family is one of the game’s most memorable scenes, along with the Crones giving off that evil vibe (The way they were portrayed in the picture and the way they were shown initially really creeps me out). In my case the quest ended with the wife of the Baron and the Baron himself dying, but I have read that there are outcomes where both live, though the ending is not all that ‘Happy happy’. And CD Projekt Red makes sure that you feel guilty for any wrong decision taken in utter unawareness, by showing a cut scene of what you did throughout the whole quest and what you could have changed.
The various characters in the game are brought to life with some epic dialogue delivery, from the childishness of Johnny to the smugness of Yennefer to the lady who seeks the pan (Yeah I know that she has probably the most minor role in the whole story, but her accent and the way she speaks actually makes me feel pity for her). These are just a few names that popped in my head, but naming the others will make this post a 10 minute read alone. And let’s not forget Geralt. The English voice actor, Doug Cockle has just completely stolen the show, though others have done a great job, we see a lot of Geralt and by a lot, I mean more than 80 hours, which is why he is the most prominent among others and the way he talks in each situation is just another testimony to prove that the people at CD Projekt Red hire the best and are perfectionists.
The graphics of Witcher 3 may have been downgraded but the game still looks the best to me. I agree that the foliage looks a bit 2D’ish but, the character and the monster design is something that most developers would want to sit down and learn from. Switch on the Game Works and Tesselation, nothing beats this game, at least in character models A plethora of creatures varying from Griffins to Botchlings to Fiends, each one is so diverse and unique, that even Capcom will try to put them in their next DMC game (Whenever it is coming out). In terms of boss battles, they are definitely the ones you want to be inspired from.
The detailing does not stop there. Most of us might have played GTA V or any other latest game that had character detailing done pretty nicely. The thing about Witcher 3 is that some characters are not the very expressive sort of people. Let’s take Geralt for example, probably the most emotionless (Only look wise) guy and then have a look at Dandelion. It is easy to show expressions of a character who is loud and more expressive, but in case of Geralt it becomes very tough because of his almost expressionless personality. CDPR pulls that very thing, (Expressing with subtle changes) off with nigh perfection. Those smirks, that subtle “Ooh” expression, those grins, the frustrating moments, the sad moments, throughout the game, Geralt is never shown to express an emotion with much aplomb, but those subtle changes to the face say it all. Remember the snowball fight with Ciri? Or the funeral of Vesemir? Or the final scene where Geralt gives Ciri a sword? Or the laboratory of Avallac’h, where Geralt gives a gesture, approving to let Ciri vent her frustration (The whole sequence following this is one of the best moments in the game for me)? These are just some of the moments that show that the detailing is way more than just good graphics. Also, on a side note, let’s not forget the natural beard growth.
As long as we are talking about characters, let’s not forget other good characters like Eskel, Vesemir, Ciri, Keira Metz, The Crones, Eredin and the people from another vast portion of the map called Skellige Isles, all have unique personalities. Talking about people, those who have played the game will definitely agree to the fact that The Witcher 3 has some of the most beautiful ladies in all of gaming history- they look classy, elegant and practically from another world. My personal favourite being Yennefer because of her blue (Actually purple) eyes and the all black dress she always wears I(And she is powerful and badass as well).
Witcher not only excels in the graphics of the playable part, but also manages to capture your mind with it’s magical cut scenes. All the major fights start with a cut scene and you can literally feel the atmosphere of tension. The Battle of Kaer Morhen, I think, probably has the best sequences of the game, with many cut scenes in between, some of them being, when Geralt and Lambert are fighting together against the army of the Wild Hunt, Eskel dueling against the Commander under Eredin and the final cut scene where Ciri goes all out after Vesemir’s death are the best cut-scenes I’ve seen in games, till date. There are others which come in The Bloody Baron side quest or pre and post Battle of Kaer Morhen, but these are among my favourites.
Oh and how could I forget the vast, exhilarating open world. It seems that CDPR has taken a lot of time and effort to put the open world together with lots of side quests, lots of Witcher contracts, a wide variety of weaponry and armory to search for and yeah, some very well hidden secrets as well. Not only does the map feel big, it also feels diverse, I mean, on one end you have the happening city of Novigrad, with the crowds bustling and on the other hand you have No Man’s Land which is ravaged by war. Another similar contrast can be the lush green forests in many parts of the map being a section of the world, the icy mountains being another and the Skellige islands being the third. The way CDPR have fleshed out everything in the game, you actually feel that you’re a part of the world. Apart from that, the game has 36 endings, frigging 36 endings, though many of them might be a slight change over another and that some games do have a 100 endings, but still. Though I have not completed them all, it’s my dream that I’ll complete all those endings some day.
Gameplay is where Witcher excels the most, with the combat being challenging and at the same time having responsive controls (At least according to me, I’ve heard many people complaining about the combat being buggy and clunky). Let’s not forget that you have got to do a lot of preparations when you are going to fight a monster and also know it’s weaknesses, unlike many other games where you can just ignore weaknesses and go on head on without worries (Unless your level is high). The skill tree is diverse enough to make a different from others (Though not as much as some other RPGs) Geralt in your first play through. I had made a combat centred Geralt in my first play and this time I’m making more of a sign centred Geralt. Trying to make a balanced Geralt in the first play through, is like becoming a jack of all arts, master of none. Completing the game unlocks a New Game Plus Mode in which you can carry your level forward and can improve your Geralt to make him an even better killing machine. Many of the alternate or special skills in the skill tree cannot be unlocked in one playthrough, unless you have a lot of patience to fill the experience bars and this is why I suggest that you make a very mono-skill-centric Geralt.
But you do not play as Geralt always. There are small parts where you play as Ciri and it is quite contrasting. As Geralt, you feel under-powered against many opponents, however with Ciri, you feel over-powered. Her space-time manipulation power allows her much more flexibility in dodging and her attacks are faster and more powerful, though that is required by the story. Ciri has two boss battles and both are pretty good. I found the battle with the crones more interesting, due to the fact that there were 3 enemies attacking me and that was challenging. But the other fight has it’s charm when Ciri goes all super sayajin on a bunch of Wild Hunt goons and Caranthir (The boss). Ciri has her moments throughout the game and she always seems to get interesting (I think mostly because she is shown very less).
I know many people had issues with Roach (The mad horse), the fetch quests, the linearity of the game in-spite of an open world (Kinda like spoon feeding you the way to an objective) and some other actual reasons for not liking the game. But I can overlook all that because this was still a far better RPG than games like Skyrim (The repetitive combat, the useless skills in the skill tree, probably the most boring of boss fights, the slow pacing of the game, bad combat mechanics) and Dark Souls (Frustratingly tough fights, a game where it’s flaws actually became it’s strong point, the only game where you can stay alive even though you have 0 health visually, lots of troll deaths, bad movement mechanics, bad camera angle; don’t know about Dark Souls 3).
Witcher 3 did change some of the ways that I saw the gaming as a hobby and became the reason I actually jumped from pirating games back to buying legit games. I still remember that it was the Autumn Steam sale and I had come home for Christmas vacations, and the Indian Rupee system had just been introduced by Steam. The first thing I did was put the Witcher trilogy in the cart, even though I had already completed the game(s) and have’t looked back at pirated games since then (Though I do indulge in some games that I am going to buy in the Steam sales). The Witcher also teaches a way of life. Not all decisions are black or white, many of them are grey, meaning that there will be many situations in life where a choice will neither be good nor bad and you won’t know the outcome, but you’ll have to decide, between those choices, depending on what you think your priority is. Similarly all the characters do not lie in the the good or bad part, other than maybe Eredin himself. All the characters have their pros an cons and it’s great to see a game trying to emulate real life decisions instead of just giving a blunt choice.
The music score of the game is pretty good, but my only complain with it is that there are few songs and even shorter lengths for a game that takes 80 hours to complete and has an average complete time of 120 hours.
Well all that said, I think that Witcher 3 is one of the if not best games out there and a perfect inspiration for those into game development. I have not played Hearts of Stone, but from what I’ve heard it lives up to the original game’s standard and is one of the best DLCs out there and we have Blood & Wine releasing next week. I’ll be buying the Expansion Pass of the game and will be playing it Day 1. Let’s hope that it is as good as the previous DLC. What do you feel about Witcher 3 and what were your favorite moments or aspects of Witcher 3? Let us know in the comments below. Cheers for CDPR. Adios.