This past week, during all the drama that ensued with my family, I found a bit of time to pick up Witcher 3 and play it. I’ve tried to start the second one a couple of times but never really made it very far. I’ve already made it further with Wild Hunt so I guess that’s a good start for the series! I’m not a total newcomer to the series, I have read the Witcher 3 books though it was a long time ago. My boyfriend is an avid Witcher fan so I also have him keeping me up to date with the characters and how they fit into the previous games but, even so, I don’t think you need that knowledge. It’s definitely new user friendly. For reference, I’m playing on the PS4 version and that’s what this review is based upon.
The game play is pretty good so far. I’ve not done too much but I have progressed out side of the starting area. I’ve enjoyed exploring and finding what there is to do. It’s a fairly traditional open world game but with a few differences. The main one is that there aren’t level specific areas. You’re encouraged to run away from anything that’s too high level in the starting area and come back to it later. I think I’m level 6 at the moment and I already have a fair few level 20 quests within my quest log. I will say, though, that it takes a long, long time to get to your first level. It also felt slightly difficult to get to level recommended for the first few quests but, now I’m level 6, I have two or three level appropriate quests that will easily get me to level 7 and more quests for that level too.
The combat is pretty enjoyable. I’m playing it on normal difficulty and there is a bit of a learning curve but once you grasp the basics (and I recommend a strike twice then dodge/parry approach) it’s fairly simple to understand. It encourages cautious game-play and I like that, the AI seems fairly smart and will parry your attacks or, for the monsters, gang up on you sometimes. It’s not too difficult, there’s always a way to do it but you probably will find yourself dying if you don’t prepare for combat properly. By that, I mean that it’s sensible to talk to the locals and check your bestiary to craft the appropriate potions and pre-equip the correct signs before initiating combat.
The quests are enjoyable too. I’ve done a fair few, found a lot more, and so far have found no repetition. Granted, there is more of the game ahead of me than behind, but each quest has a reasoning and makes sense in-game. The card game, Gwent, is also worth a try, it’s a rather interesting concept with a fair bit of tactics behind it. There is an element of “luck of the draw” as with any card game, but not enough to discourage you from trying again if you lose. Part of the appeal is learning about your opponents deck and customising yours to beat it.
The only downside I can say so far are the long loading times. It can take a good five minutes (or at least feels like it) to load the game up from a save. However, don’t avoid saving regularly – in fact I thoroughly recommend you save extremely often. The game does have an auto-save but that’s only really for big quest moments, it won’t stop you from losing lots of progress if you wander off the path and get cut down by a griffin. After sitting through a long loading screen the last thing you want is to realise that you’ve lost hours worth of progress.
If you enjoy open world games then I recommend giving Witcher 3 a go, you’ll only have to load every so often (unless you die a lot) but when you see how big and detailed the world is then it’s easy to forgive the long loading time.