I got back into The Witcher 3 with a vengeance after a two month break, played the Hearts of Stone expansion and finished the main story. I haven’t done Blood and Wine yet, I’ll be saving that a little as I’ve spent 150 hours on the game and want something else in between.
I quickly got too bored with sailing around casually shooting sirens in the face for treasure I didn’t need in Skellige, but other than that my completionism got the better of me and I finished every side quest and explored every location I could find. Phew.
If I was to sum up my thoughts it would be that it’s a very impressive game. The scope and scale are impressive, it’s impressively beautiful, it runs impressively smoothly for such a huge open game, the sheer amount of art and animation and voice work and… it’s all very impressive. And I really liked it on the whole.
Best RPG ever? No. I’d say the RPG elements are some of the weakest aspects of the game. Geralt isn’t a terrible character, I warmed to him quite a bit once the cast of characters got filled out and especially once I got to hang out more with Ciri, but he never felt like my character. Beyond occasional big decisions there weren’t a whole lot of alternative solutions to quests. In terms of character builds it’s also just flavours of the same thing. Geralt is who he is and does what he does.
I felt like there was an odd lack of closure to lots of quests. Characters were extremely chatty during quests, but once it ended they’d generally go back to their location and either not speak to me at all or not have anything new to say. In some cases it almost felt like the game was going out of its way not to tie up events, for example:
Throughout the game I went back to Dandelion’s tavern to see if Priscilla had recovered. Her being attacked was a big story moment and I was sure I’d find out how her and Dandelion’s story would get tied up at some trigger point along the main quest. Dandelion never had anything more to say to me. I even went back to the hospital and Priscilla was still lying there and nothing had changed. After the main story ending the first thing I did was go back there, and still nothing. Not even a comment on the main quest events from Dandelion.
It seems very odd for a game with such an abundance of detail everywhere.
They could have edited themselves down a lot in other areas. I’d happily have traded away every last Ubisoft sandbox-style mini quest and treasure hunt for one or two more developed quests with an actual story. Granted, all the fluff is technically skippable, but the stronger side quests are among the best parts of the game and without looking up and spoiling stuff in advance there’s no way of knowing which secondary quest or witcher contract is just going to be more filler.
And I never really got on with the combat. It’s functional, but it’s extremely repetitive and boring and there’s way too much of it.
But I did really like it. When it gets into gear and tells you a story with characters it actually cares about it’s often excellent and the world you explore is wonderfully realised and lovingly crafted. I very much look forward to jumping back into the last bit of DLC, but I definitely need a break first.