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Published on May 13th, 2015 | by Andrew Bistak

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The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt Review (PlayStation 4)

The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt Review (PlayStation 4) Andrew Bistak
Gameplay
Graphics
Audio
Value

Summary: The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt is almost perfect on the PlayStation 4 and proves that the RPG genre can be something more than a cliché

5

Perfect


Geralt of Rivia returns and is bigger, better and badder than ever in The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt that is an open-world action role-playing game. It’s also the first time that this franchise makes it way to next-gen consoles with Impulse Gamer given the chance to review this RPG on the PlayStation 4 almost three weeks before its official release on May 19. So here we are, main quests finished but heaps of side quests to go! So if you’re new, this game supports four levels of difficulty from easy (just the story) to dark (death match) which is extremely challenging and for veteran RPG fans.

So compared to the previous game, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, the gaming world of Wild Hunt is massive (30 times bigger than previous games) and it’s easily one of the most dynamic RPG worlds that I have played. Of course it really helps that the protagonist of the series Geralt, is like fantasy equivalent of Clint Eastwood in his prime. Add in some great one liners like “Let that be error… a mortal one” or for a touch of comedy with a limerick, “Lambert Lambert what a Prick” and Geralt is definitely the man! He’s also a lady’s man who can not only have his cake but eat it as well thanks to Mr. Suave.

However CD Projekt RED have truly upped the ante of this current instalment by revamping the size of the world, the gaming mechanics and combat which makes this title quite a holistic, powerful and engaging RPG. CD Projekt RED also boast that this game has over 100 hours of gameplay but if you’re strapped for time, you can just concentrate on the main quests. But then again who will destroy all those monster nests and help the humble peasants?

When it comes to story, The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt is easily the best story out of the franchise so far. The first level of the game which serves as a tutorial is actually a dream sequence and takes the gamer back to when Geralt was the ward for Ciri who has elder blood cursing through her veins. It is here that we discover that Geralt was training his adopted “daughter” to become a Witcher in the stronghold of Kaer Morhen, the Witcher Fortress and this dream was perfect for him.

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He was together again with Yennifer after losing his memory in the previous game and life couldn’t be any better but when Ciri disappears, he immediately awakes from the dream as we see a much older battle scarred Geralt of Rivia. Fortunately his long-term acquaintance Vesemir is there and having reclaimed his lost memory, Geralt is trying to locate both Ciri and his soul mate, the mage Yennifer, only to discover that the Wild Hunt are searching for his ward.

As he follows the clues and completes missions, he is reunited with Yennifer again who is working for the Emperor of Nilfgaard and orders Geralt to find his real-daughter, Ciri. Needless to say, there are many twists and turns in the story that would also make this series a fantastic film. It’s probably one of the best video game stories in the last few years due to the plots and personalities.

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Characterisation plays an import facet to the story of The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt and I love the relationships that Geralt has throughout the story which requires him to revisit them near the end of the game. Also, many questions are finally answered in this story about why Yennifer didn’t try and find Geralt when her memory returned. There’s a great scene between Geralt and Yennifer where she asks the Witcher for help to remove the love spell placed on them by a Djinn in order for them to see if their love is real or not. It’s quite a beautiful moment between the two.

It should also be noted that some of the stories in Wild Hunt are definitely not for children and can be quite adult orientated such as the serial killer known as Junior Whoreson or the domestic violence of the Baron and his wife who fled their keep when she miscarried. So yeah, the stories can be quite dark, hence the R18+ rating on this title. Then you got the almost graphic sex scenes as Geralt unleashes his charm.

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Quite a few of the characters have some excellent political intrigue behind their motivations and although a few are bastards, there’s also plenty of innocent and friendly characters that does lend itself well to this massive story. So whether Geralt is helping the bard Priscilla write and create a new play about his adventures or our Witcher professing his love to Yennifer which even includes a very amusing sex scene on a stuffed unicorn, the developers of this game should be commended on creating such a powerful story that is filled with emotions and some true heartfelt moments.

Familiar characters also make a return in The Witcher 3 such as the beautiful sorceress Triss Merrigold and the dwarf warrior and long-time friend of Geralt, Zoltan plus the mischievous bard Dandelion who exaggerates quite profusely. I really enjoyed these links from the previous game which felt quite substantial and unlike Dragon Age 3, it actually made the game feel like you were playing a Witcher game. The game contains a well designed in game HUD which at a quick glance allows you to see statistics like vitality (health), signs (e.g. spells) and other useful things like experience points, item condition and the mini-map. With that said, you do need to monitor your items because they get damaged but you can repair them, even upgrade weapons with oils and rune stones.

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With the characters that you encounter in the game, player choice provides a huge direction to how the story will play out and some choices have a set time limit to make. This also gives the player control of Geralt actions, whether to play as a badass or noble, the choice is up to the character and you can even mix and match. I remember facing Junior Whoreson and being quite sickened by what I discovered and although I played it cool initially, I quickly dealt swift justice when the opportunity arose.

Besides playing Geralt, CD Projekt RED throws a great twist in the game by allowing players to control Ciri which is generally a past event but helps our Witcher piece together the clues of her disappearance. She is equally as powerful as Geralt but has a few different tricks up her sleeve like the ability to teleport on the battlefield which makes for fun combat dynamics, especially with enemies with shields who can be a pain. With that said, I also enjoyed the cute little character known as Uma that without spoiling the story is part of the bigger picture, albeit a little cursed.

In relation to enemies, there’s quite a few that you will face but I found that some of the humans in this game were actually more monstrous than the monsters themselves which gives the game this real-world feel, even though it is set in a fantasy environment. But with that said, you will face a diverse range of enemies from common thugs to powerful Griffins, Rock Trolls and of course the walking dead. Variety is definitely the spice of life in this game. Besides hacking and slashing, you can parry plus jump back to give you some valuable moments before the next attack.

Unlike a game like Dragon Age 3, combat in The Witcher 3 is definitely more action based as you swing your weapons with fast or strong attacks. As you progress, Geralt even starts doing finishing moves that include some brutal decapitations which are very bloody. By pushing right on the d-pad, it forces Geralt to unsheathe his sword and like the previous games, you do have access to some magic which can mean the difference between life and death in battles.

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Your magic is basically unleashed via the shoulder buttons and can be changed on the fly from psychic blasts to fireballs as an example. At times, you will have some AI counterparts and ironically, I found these non-player characters to be quite good at helping Geralt because they actually do some of the work opposed to the game forcing it all onto the player.

The Witcher 3 even introduces a crossbow opposed to your trusty Witcher’s sword which is needed for some of the underwater missions because this is the only way to disperse swimming enemies. I was pleasantly surprised at how accurate the crossbow was underwater but care does need to be taken because you have limited breath while exploring. The crossbow is even great for flying creatures like harpies or if you’re trying to back away from an angry mob of thugs.

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Level progression basically allows the player to upgrade four key areas that include combat, signs, alchemy and general skills which may include elements such as precise blow, firestream or rage manipulation. These are then assigned to the character for you to make the most of during your adventures. Add in specialty items like magic lamps to see ghosts or the potestaquistor to find magic disruptions and the game really gives the player everything they need to successfully complete the title. It’s also quite fun!

The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt does have some parallels to Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto and Assassin’s Creed in that they all share some similar mechanics but it should be stated that Wild Hunt is definitely its own game which works on so many levels. The open-world nature of Wild Hunt is massive and whether you are exploring on foot, horseback or even boat, CD Projekt RED have created a living breathing virtual world that actually feels like you are in some forgotten fantasy world. Speaking of going inside a game like the movie Inception, there is even a card game called Gwent which is quite in-depth and allows you to challenge all sorts of people in this relatively complex strategy game.

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Initially you start the game on foot but soon enough, you have access to your trusty stead “Roach” that allows you to navigate this expansive world. The horseback mechanics work well and I love the little tweaks that the developers have done like holding down X which makes your horse automatically the follow the path or by giving you the option to gallop away if enemies are close.

The Witcher can even fight on horseback and if your horse gets frightened, he will buck you off so riding gives the player plenty of different strategies. Save points are generous and the game does allow you to save almost anywhere and everywhere. Another nice touch is that when you return to the game, it shows the player a collection of stills of what previously happened in the game. It’s a nice little reminder to the player and thankfully there is also a quest log in the game as well.

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To assist with exploration, the player has access to boats and although you can swim across rivers, boats allow you a quicker way of reaching your intended destinations. However if you hit something in the water, it does damage the boat, especially some of the creatures you face but thankfully you can swim if need be. The first time I came face to face with a whale was a true wow moment in the game. Needless to say, I loved exploring the world on horseback because it allows you to engage in many side quests and it feels like you are part of something big so I actually rode quite a bit.

If you need to reach a destination fast, crossroad signs and harbour signs do allow for fast travel but you must first discover these places in order to use them. The game does use a pointer system for navigation in terms of quests plus a bread trail but you can also set your own markers. Both Geralt and Ciri can also climb over obstacles and even reach places that require climbing. The climbing mechanics definitely makes the game more dynamic, although I did find the movement in small places a little frustrating at times because things or people got in the way.

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So apart from all the exploring and fighting, Geralt does have access to Witcher vision which is similar to detective vision in the Batman games that basically allows our Witcher to solve crimes, follow scents, track people and animals and basically piece together the puzzles of some clue. You can even eavesdrop on conversation to help with your missions and if you want to try something totally different, the game contains a very in-depth crafting system. All in all, CD Projekt RED have created an amazing RPG title on the PlayStation 4 that really pushes this console in terms of power.

Graphics/Audio

Graphically, The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt looks amazing on the PlayStation 4 and it’s easily one of the most interactive worlds that I have the pleasure of playing. As mentioned, it’s a living and breathing virtual world and whether it is  the movement of the fields from the winds or the leaves of the trees themselves, it’s quite a sight on the PlayStation 4. Weather and lighting plays an important part to the game as well because it has a dynamic day and night system which means these times effect certain elements of missions and story.

The weather system is also quite realistic such as when the world starts going dark because there is a storm coming or nightfall is coming. It’s quite realistic. Then you have the characters themselves who move with this real-world grace and the attention to detail on both the characters and the cutscenes is pretty much flawless. Another cool element of the game is that Geralt even grows a beard and that his hair does start getting dirty on adventures.

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However by visiting a barber, you can get your beard cut and even your hair but as you progress, so does the dynamic hair growth system. Cutscenes also flawlessly merge with the gameplay and the environments do have this great 3D atmosphere to it, especially when you near the mountains. To complement the excellent graphics, the voice acting of The Witcher 3 is perfect, especially Doug Cooke as Geralt of Rivia.

Sure some of the voice acting is a little clichéd and amusing at times but for the majority it’s perfect. Music is mainly used for the fights in the game so that while you’re exploring this world, all you hear are the sounds of nature itself. All in all, the graphics, music and sound effects help create one of the best RPG experiences of our era. It’s definitely a must have game on the PlayStation 4 if you enjoyed the previous games or love the Dragon Age saga.

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Final Thoughts?

The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt is one of the best RPG’s that I have ever played and after the previous game, I really didn’t know what to expect because that game was so good. This game has got characters that you actually care about, a story that is very engaging from the get go and almost flawless gaming mechanics. The combat system works well, especially the varied enemies that you face as you attempt to locate your ward Ciri before The Wild Hunt finds her.

Exploration is another highlight and after investing so much time into the game, I still want to come back and visit the diverse characters that revolve around Geralt of Rivia. Sure, the controls can be a little clunky at times, especially falling short distances that make you take damage, bumping into things in close quarters or when things are located too close together but overall, the gameplay mechanics work well which is the reason why this game is so enjoyable to play. So if you’re looking for the best RPG game of 2015 and probably for a long time, than I strongly suggest you check out The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt because this game is that good!

Highly Recommended!

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Game Details

The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt
Primary Format – Games – Playstation 4
Game Genre – Role Playing Game
Rating – R18+
Game Developer – CD Projekt RED
Game Publisher – Bandai Namco Games

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Key Features

Play as a Highly Trained Monster Slayer for Hire
Trained from early childhood and mutated to gain superhuman skills, strength and reflexes, witchers are a distrusted counterbalance to the monster-infested world in which they live.

  • Gruesomely destroy foes as a professional monster hunter armed with a range of upgradeable weapons, mutating potions and combat magic.
  • Hunt down a wide variety of exotic monsters from savage beasts prowling the mountain passes to cunning supernatural predators lurking in the shadows of densely populated towns.
  • Invest your rewards to upgrade your weaponry and buy custom armour, or spend them away in horse races, card games, fist fighting, and other pleasures the night brings.

Explore a Morally Indifferent Fantasy Open World
Built for endless adventure, the massive open world of The Witcher sets new standards in terms of size, depth and complexity.

  • Traverse a fantastical open world: explore forgotten ruins, caves and shipwrecks, trade with merchants and dwarven smiths in cities, and hunt across the open plains, mountains and seas.
  • Deal with treasonous generals, devious witches and corrupt royalty to provide dark and dangerous services.
  • Make choices that go beyond good & evil, and face their far reaching consequences.

Chase Down the Child of Prophecy
Take on the most important contract to track down the child of prophecy, a key to save or destroy this world.

  • In times of war, chase down the child of prophecy, a living weapon of power, foretold by ancient elven legends.
  • Struggle ferocious rulers, spirits of the wilds and even a threat from beyond the veil — all hell-bent on controlling this world.
  • Define your destiny in a world that may not be worth saving.

Fully Realized Next Generation

  • Built exclusively for next generation hardware, the REDengine 3 renders the world of The Witcher visually nuanced and organic, a real true to life fantasy.
  • Dynamic weather systems and day/night cycles affect how the citizens of the towns and the monsters of the wilds behave.
  • Rich with storyline choices in both main and subplots, this grand open world is influenced by the player unlike ever before.

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The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt Gallery


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