The Witcher series has long been held in high regard by the PC Master Race community–The Witcher 2 was ported to the Xbox 360, but it was nothing but an empty shell compared to the visual powerhouse that was its PC counterpart. Now, after three years in the making, The Witcher series makes an appearance on both consoles and home computers, with it being the first release on the Playstation.
Our hero Geralt of Rivia, otherwise known as a witcher, returns once more for a final round in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Our champion, a man of mystery, continues his journey after the events of the previous game. With his pursuers gone and the search for him over, Geralt yearns for a life to call his own, to reclaim what once was lost. He heads out on a personal mission in the midst of cataclysmic events that are forever changing the world order around him.
Sadly, there is no rest for the wicked as Geralt’s mission seems to go head to toe with an otherworldly force otherwise known as the wild hunt. These wild hunt are hellbent on reigning havoc all across the northern realm kingdoms. As expected, and beyond his control, our gray-haired hero Geralt gets stuck between his personal struggles and those of an entire kingdom and soon realizes that these events would affect all that he holds dear. He must take it up with himself to stop these events from happening and maybe, just maybe, finally have a chance to turn the tide of his life.
First, let us start with the obvious. The Witcher 3 looks mind-blowing and pushes the current-gen consoles to their limits–sorry PS3 and Xbox 360 owners, but this game couldn’t possibly run on your consoles, both of which suffering from a 30FPS limiter, muddy textures and sudden frame rate drops. Sadly, this also means that this game is still rather limited to what current technology has to offer and many articles have already pointed at the seemingly obvious down-scaling of the game’s visual splendor in order to make it run on current hardware.
This little hitch unfortunately translates to the PC version as well. While it will run at 60fps, boasting higher resolution textures, the game will feel tied to its console counterparts in order to make all the versions as close to each other visually as is possible. While this is somewhat of a shady technique, the mod scene on the PC has already started pumping out multiple mods and CD Projekt RED have since released patches to improve the visual fidelity on the PC. This is a statement that is deeply rooted in this game’s PC origins and a reminder that the PC will always be the master race as far as visuals are concerned. Nevertheless, the game is still an absolute powerhouse in the graphical department and will please gamers regardless of their platform of choosing.
Combat revolves around the use of magic in conjunction with melee and for the first time in the franchise, long range attacks to deal with enemies at a distance and even take down high-flying enemies. Thankfully the fighting system has been completely revamped, with The Witcher 3 introducing some new mechanics such as witcher-sense that allows you to see things that normal men can’t see like tracks, the remnant scents in the air, hidden areas and even lootable crates. The game also introduces combat on horseback, even though it is not that well made, and the ability of our witcher to swim and dive underwater. Furthermore, Geralt can now jump, climb, and vault over roadside obstacles, a feature long missing in the previous versions. This adds ease of movement and an extra depth of exploration to the game.
Much like the past two Witcher games, The Witcher 3 features a dynamic day and night cycle with the ability of the witcher to fast-forward time to a specific moment by meditating. Meditating will restore health and stamina, even refill any potions as long as you have the required materials. It should be noted that the time cycles play a major role in the game with certain events only happening at a specific time frame and affecting the behavior of most monsters, such as werewolves, in peculiar ways. Another dynamic addition is the beard-growing feature; Geralt can grow a beard as time marches on and you can even visit barber shops for a trim or even develop a personal hair style that suits your adventuring flair. Hey, who said a lone adventurer can’t look stunning?
The Witcher 3 is a deep game, with an abundance of side quests that span as long as the initial quest. It also plays host to multiple features that are sure to keep you coming back such as a deep and well-rooted card game that can be as much fun, if not better, than most standalone commercial card games, an impressive alchemy mode that allows you to brew many potions that could mean the difference between life and death in battle, and a full and rich bestiary compendium that will offer you valuable insight on the beast you will be dealing with.
Asides from offering you a typical action-adventure game with options such as horseback riding, fast travel and the ability to play as a second character for a few select moment for a change, the world and the people around you are impacted by the choices you make throughout the game.
On a much brighter side, or should I say ”sugar coated side,” The Witcher 3 is one of the very few games, if not the only open-world action/adventure, to receive full Arabic localization, including that of the UI. Not a small feat considering the effort that went into translating over 60,000 words, especially when you consider the huge number of NPCs you can interact with, each of them having a script of their own.
Other previous games may have already attempted and achieved this, but they are not up to scale with this gargantuan effort it took to bring this game to the local demographic. The sugar coated side of the equation, however, has to do with the game being severely toned down in the domains of gore and full frontal nudity: blood does not flow like wine and all female anatomies are fully covered. While this has no effect on the plot or the gameplay, it still feels like a jab into our social and civil rights, and a compromise that a grand game like this one has to go through in the form of necessary evil to avoid it being completely banned, not allowing it a local release.
Boasting a gaming world bigger than any game so far, a deep story, a vivid world, colorful NPCs and a fighting mechanism that is both fun and accessible, this ultra violent and rather racy entry into the world of action/adventure games is one that will leave a mark on the history of gaming and has already set the bar for any other game that wishes to enter the fanfare. The Witcher 3 may well earn the title of best game of 2015, and that will be a very difficult act to follow.
The Witcher 3 is available for the PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One and PC. A review code was made available to us via CD Projekt RED