CD Projekt Red had previously hinted that the star of The Witcher series, Geralt of Rivia may be coming to another popular game, and it had now been confirmed that this is true, and Geralt will be starring in the forthcoming Soulcalibur VI from BANDAI NAMCO.
The Soulcalibur series of games is famous for it’s guest characters, who can forget the appearance of Yoda back in SC4. Doug Cockle returns for voicing duties and the characters in-game abilities look to be faithful to Geralt, including the fire spell Igni and the knock back spell Aard. He’ll also have his own location, the training grounds at Kaer Morhen.
Soulcalibur VI is due out in 2018 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Join Greg Giddens and Steve Peacock and for a new episode of the This is Xbox Podcast – episode 30 Pokémon Equals Dig Fighting.
In this episode the duo discuss the lack of news since E3, as well as some of the recent content to hit the TiX site, such as reviews of Mighty No. 9, 7 Days to Die, and The Witcher 3 Blood and Wine. And of course there’s the usual silly banter you’d expect.
The final instalment of the Witcher is a big deal. After the superlative main game, the ton of free DLC, the competent and enjoyable Hearts of Stone expansion, the gaming community – even those not particularly enamoured by RPG’s – have to admit that CD Projekt Red’s magnum opus is a highly polished and prime example of open-world game design. With that in mind, it would be very easy to lose all that good will in one single stroke, by failing to provide a fitting finale for Geralt, or should the latest expansion, Blood & Wine, fail to impress. Such is the fickle nature of gamers; You are only as good as your last success.
Blood and Wine sees a new bounty notice placed, calling for the attention of Geralt of Rivia to aid the Duchy of Tuissant, (yes, that is pronounced with a French lilt), in hunting down and removing the “Beast of Beauclair”, which has been terrorising the city and killing prominent knights and aristocracy. Arriving in Tuissant you find a world which has been excluded from the Northern wars. With its acres of vinyards, grandiose architecture and open, pastel inbued villages and towns, Beauclair is a unique area with a distinct mediteranean vibe when compared to the dark, medieval British aesthetics of Velen.
One of the first encounters with the new enemies you face, is extremely reminiscent of the original teaser trailer, (a night to remember), where Geralt faced a foe that few witchers dare to engage. Much like the trailer, it also leaves you with a distinct respect for the power of these creatures and, for me at least, made me question my confidence in my combat proficiency. This was not for the only time either. Without the right preparation, timing, spells or potions you will quite frequenty be seeing “You are Dead”, even on the lower difficulty levels.
These overbearing enemies are thankfully the exception and not the rule, and alongside the regular denizens inhabiting the world, there are dozens of new variants and strains of enemies to be encountered and overcome in the Duchy of Tuissant. With an area approximately half the size of Velen, Tuissant brings a significant expansion to the game with a rich, vibrant and open-world to explore full of winding mountain paths, deep vales, derelict estates and crumbling ruins and crypts alongside the bustling towns and villages that make up the country’s focal points.
CD Projekt Red have delivered a compelling, expertly crafted story that is not only engaging, but has several twists along the way to veer the story off in a new direction. Of the several times this occurred; I would believe myself closing on the final credits only for the plot to take a logic, yet unexpected, twist and lead me further down a rabbit hole in the world of courtly intrigue and deception. As you progress through the main quest, there are several choices you can make that deviate further and further from your original path, and each of these endings can be played through should you wish. For the sake of clarity in this review, I thought it prudent to do precisely that, and there is plenty of content for this final expansion to feel justified.
These diversions would quite regularly be a simple side step on the main story arc, but more often than not would provide enough details and revelations to allow you to re-evaluate characters and their stated beliefs several times over. For me, a particular character who marked himself out as openly hostile from the outset stuck out as a primary suspect, and several times the writers presented situations which could easily have allowed you to continue to believe this to be the case, yet by the end you find this character not only to be one of the most interesting characters based on how much insight you receive into his background, but also turns out to be the most stalwart of Geralt’s supporters by the time the story’s final act rolls round.
This is primarily down to how extremely well-acted the characters are, with particular honour going to Mark Noble for his amazing work voicing Regis. As a long-time wanderer of the world, the weight of knowledge and conviction conveyed in the delivery he provides is superlative and there is a credibility in the way he interacts with Geralt that made me believe the revelations that he is a long time and close confidant of Geralts. This is particularly poignant given the fact that most of the DLC exposition is between these two characters and as such a focus on his dialogue was critical.
The world itself is spectacular to behold, and full of character. From the dusty goat tracks leading up to the highest peak, the crystal clear lakes that decorate the valleys, and the peasants picking and crushing grapes throughout the many vineyards. Everything pulls together to make the environment feel alive and reactive. Additional the character embued in the many denizens as well as the world, something CD Projekt Red do so well, make it all just feel so grounded. There is nothing that made me chuckle more, than a small side quest I stumbled upon late game to aid a pair of ghosts who had spent an obscene amount of time bickering over who should rightfully rest within a chosen crypt. Watching one of these bickering spectres flip off their unwanted neighbour when they finally knew they were going to escape the hell in which they had been trapped, is probably one of the, if not the, most amusing encounters I found during my time in Tuissant. It’s this charm that makes this DLC infinitely redeemable.
Once again, CD Projekt Red have stuffed the world to the gills. Dozens of complex and voiced side quests, several treasure hunts this time for Masterwork Witcher schematics to improve on those already upgraded sets, several bounties, countless landmarks, hidden treasure, crypts, graveyards; the list continues with easily 30+ hours of additional content to get your teeth into. This is not to mention that you also receive a customisable and upgradeable house and lands, much like the Hearthfire expansion to Skyrim, but more focus on the cosmetic rather than the actual construction.
As I said at the start, to me this was a big deal, and I thought it only justified that I dig as deeply and as widely as I possibly could to try to find the chink in the armour or the blemish on the skin of this expansion. Thankfully, in my own opinion, there was nothing to be found. The expansion is, for want of a better word, flawless. Its deep, involving, contains a metric ton of content for a relatively low price, all while maintaining the high level expected from a game with so many distinctions as this one.
All in all, if you are a fan of the core game, (and if you aren’t, why exactly are you reading a review of its DLC?), Blood and Wine is exactly the sort of content pack you would want. I cannot recommend this title enough, and I believe everyone that owns the Witcher 3 should pick this up and enjoy it as soon as possible. A must buy if ever I saw one.
Thanks to Xbox and CD Projekt Red for supporting TiX
It seems there are a few folk that are unhappy by this week’s offering – complaining about free things? – it confuses me too! CD Projekt RED are already teasing that next week’s DLC, and the last piece of content in their planned free DLC, will see them go out on a high!
CD Projekt RED continue to lead the way with an incredible free DLC program for their awesome Witcher 3.
This week, the DLC has a Skellige theme with some armour and a “Most Wanted” contract for you to hunt down. I must admit to being impressed by CD Projekt RED’s dedication and support for the DLC program, and rather than deliver just new cosmetics to the game, the new quests are rather exciting although let’s be honest – there’s already plenty of content in the game already!
I hope you’ve all gone out and bought The Witcher after my glowing review of what is sure to be a contender for this year’s GOTY! And because there just isn’t enough content CD Projekt RED have decided to release weekly DLC for The Witcher, with the first being a cheeky dig at Oblivion with some horse armour and a Beard and Hairstyle Set.
This week, the DLC is a bit more exciting:
CONTRACT: MISSING MINERS – Miners from a small Skellige village are disappearing. Investigate and find out what’s happening!
ALTERNATIVE LOOK FOR YENNEFER – Check out this entirely new look for the mighty sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg!
What’s your ideal game? For me, it’s an adventure across a vast land, that’s not only beautiful, but immerses me the more and more I play. It’s a world full of interesting people, each with a tale to tell. My character would be well-versed in magic and swordplay and there would be a variety of fantastical creatures for me to slay. Does such a game exist? It does…it’s called The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
Once again, you take the role of monster hunting Witcher, Geralt – a master swordsman who dabbles with light magic, and is a keen alchemist able to craft potions and oils that buff skills or give an added edge against certain enemies. Geralt is a drifter – a merc for hire – able to hunt down anyone or anything with his sleuth skills. He likes treasure and the company of a good woman or two, his deep voice would even give Solid Snake and Batman a run for their money. It’s a good job he is a likable character, because you will be spending a lot of time with him – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is huge, and not just in terms of content, the world is massive and begging to be explored.
Tamaria is full of life – from lush vegetation that sways in the wind to majestic castles lavished in fine furnishing. From dank hidden caves to flee infested peasant villages, the world feels alive and lived in. You’ll need to ride on horseback or sail the seas if you want to get about quickly, and like Far Cry 4, you might not fancy travelling across long distances. Thankfully, The Witcher also has a fast travel system that allows you to quickly travel between discovered signposts. When riding horseback, you can hold down the A button to let your horse take charge and follow the road ahead, giving you the chance to sit back and take in the sights – The Witcher 3’s landscape is stunning (particularly the water effects) and continues to deliver wow moments even when you’re tens of hours into the game.
The main story sees you on the trail of your former ward, Ceri, who is being hunted by the supernatural group The Wild Hunt – it’s impossible not to draw similarities with Game of Thrones’ White Walkers, and the similarities don’t stop there either – like Harry Potter versus Lord of the Rings, I’m sure the comparisons between Witcher and Thrones fans will rage on for just as long.
During the main quest, you always seen to be one step behind Ceri, catching up with people she has met. It’s here when you listen to their tale that you get to take control of her and play out the story for yourself. It’s a welcome break from Geralt, but the scenes never drag on for too long, so never take the emphasis away from him and his journey to find Ceri.
Outside of the main quest there are secondary quests, Witcher contracts and treasure hunts to complete, but these are not just bolted on so that you can level up your character to be able to tackle the harder quests. Each one is well written and never sinks into the boredom of rinse and repeat fetch quests that so many RPGs are guilty of. The tales are often far more interesting and humourous than the main quest, but the genius behind them is in CD Projekt RED’s storytelling.
Some games place your character in a fascinating world but as a visitor, a tourist taking in the sights, Geralt is no mere traveler. Everywhere you go people will reach out for help, advice or hoping you to be easy prey. How you go about each scenario is up to you, but rather than single-serving, the stories twist and wrap themselves around the whole world, filling in blanks to another person’s tale or having a deep seeded affect on how the world shapes around you. It might not be obvious at first, but every choice you make has a consequence – it’s subtle and the outcome will often present itself when you least expect it.
I really felt for the characters I met, it was like I really got to know some of them, and even became their friend – it was a liberating feeling – especially when so many games use quests as a way to farm additional XP. Personalities of characters changed and hostile acquaintances blossomed into deep friendships – the focus is firmly on the lives and fiction of Tamaria’s inhabitants, far more so than the combat, which is almost there for the ride.
At first, I found the combat to be rather clumsy – there’s light and heavy attacks, with parry, dodge and roll for evasion. But this is just one element to The Witcher’s combat; potions, oils, bombs and magic must all be combined with your physical attacks if you are to make the most of the combat. While combat can’t quite hit the fluidity of Assassin’s Creed, it’s far improved from its predecessor. Mindless button mashing is a sure way to getting yourself killed, instead, the combat is similar to Dark Souls II although a lot less punishing, which did mean I endured poor combat techniques for far longer – Dark Souls forces you to learn better techniques or you won’t progress any further in the game – once the combat clicks, like Dark Souls II, it becomes far more enjoyable.
To help you gain a better insight into each creature and how you might defeat them with potions, oils and bombs, there’s a Bestiary – a pool of knowledge on everything you have encountered or read about in books that are scattered around Tamaria. Focusing on potion and bomb creation can easily keep you busy for hours – searching for an elusive ingredient. Unfortunately there isn’t a compendium of alchemy ingredients, so you have to rely on memory, luck or by purchasing the missing ingredients from herbalists.
The type size in the menus didn’t help my old eyes either; I found it difficult to read when sitting at my screen and had to move closer in order to read the text. Once you’ve created a recipe for a potion or bomb, it can be replenished when you meditate, meaning scavenging for alchemy ingredients is never too much of a chore.
CD Projekt RED couldn’t entirely resist from bolting on a few obvious open-world mechanics, there are numerous fistfight contests and horse races to enter, but these are all rather dull. What I did like was the superb Hearthstone-esque card game called Qwent. By building a deck of at least 22 unit cards, plus up to ten special or Hero cards, you can take on fellow Qwent players 1v1. There are around 150 unique cards, which can bought off merchants or won from other characters and ordered into four classes, each with it’s own strengths, weaknesses and special leader cards. It’s a simple game but it had me utterly addicted, I hope there are plans to release it as a standalone mobile app or so that I can challenge some of my friends over Xbox Live.
I can’t remember the last time an RPG gripped me so much, and it’s thanks to CD Projekt RED’s masterful crafting of the story and allowing me to play out some incredible adventures within the vast open world of Tamaria – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is about as close as it comes to being my ideal game. Now… where’s my Silver Sword? I’m off to slay some monsters!