Tag Archives: The Witcher

The Witcher 3 : Blood & Wine review

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.

Witcher 3 Blood and Wine 1

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.

Witcher 3 Blood and Wine 2

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.

Witcher 3 Blood and Wine 3

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.

Witcher 3 Blood and Wine 4

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

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt expansion Bood and Wine is out now

Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe and CD PROJEKT RED’s hugely successful action RPG, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, get’s it’s second and final expansion today, Blood and Wine.

Once again you’re placed in the shoes of professional monster slayer Geralt of Rivia, where you must explore Toussaint, a remote land untouched by war, where you will unravel the horrifying secret behind a beast terrorizing the kingdom. With all trails leading to dead ends, only a witcher can solve the mystery and survive the evil lurking in the night.

Expect another 30+ hour adventure full of dark deeds, unexpected twists, romance and deceit. And check out the trailer below:

 

Gerald of the Year Awards

2016 is well underway and what a year it’s lining up to be. Some of the biggest AAA titles we have been patiently waiting for are scheduled for release this year, but before we run away with what’s coming up let’s have quick recap of 2015 from the Game of the Year Awards.

  1. Great scot, Gerald. 166 GOTY picks! This Game has proved to be a slayer of Monsters taking the world by storm and fighting off some very stiff competition.
  2. Fallout finds its due. 36 of the GOTY awards from around the world went to the wasteland wanderer, and rightly so, for anybody familiar with slaying super mutants I’m sure you’re happy to find Fallout up here.
  3. Sneaky Snake slips with 23 awards given to the king of stealth. A great game warmly received by fans of the series and new players. This stellar title has earned its place amongst the greats of 2015.
  4. Bloodborne bashes its opponents into submission. 19 picks for this. A valiant effort for a console exclusive, with a consistent 9/10 and 5 Stars from reviews. It is plain to see this deserves its top spot.

What. A. Year. Now let’s get into 2016.

A game of Cat and Wolf – brand new The Witcher 3 DLC

This week’s free DLC offering for The Witcher 3 is a new quest called “Where the Cat and Wolf play”. We all know who the ‘wolf’ is, but who might be the cat?

In previous weeks we have seen CD Projekt RED offer two new pieces of content, so is this week’s single quest larger than those before it? Keep an eye on the Xbox Store and download it to find out!

Wolf and cat

Armour up with this new Witcher 3 quest

CD Projekt RED continue to lead the way with an incredible free DLC program for their awesome Witcher 3.

CIHME8OWoAAzXJX

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!

Sword of Destiny book review

Sword of Destiny header

I’m a massive fantasy fan and have read the most if not all published collections of Eddings, Feist, Tolkien, Hobb and many more. One thing I don’t read too much are fantasy novels either based on games or books that games have themselves been based on. So when Dave asked me to review Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski, a collection of linked short stories featuring the most loved characters from the phenomenal world of Geralt the Witcher, I couldn’t refuse.

The Sword of Destiny, is the second of the two collections of short stories (the other being The Last Wish), both preceding the main Witcher Saga. All three books have been written by Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski. The first Polish edition was published in 1992. The English edition was published by Gollancz much later in May 2015.

If you don’t know anything about Witchers or more precisely, Geralt of Riva, then let me begin by telling you the legend of witchers is timeless and brutal. Taken as young children and trained in brutal ways, Witchers are crafted, moulded, into perfect killers. They benefit from increased strength and speed, rapid healing, a near-total resistance to disease and an ability to call upon the elements with limited magical ability are the hallmarks of a Witcher. Witchers take contracts and assignments from Kings, Nobles, peasantry and everyone in between to deal with monsters and demons, worse than the common folk could ever imagine.

The short stories in Sword of Destiny take place before the events of the main Witcher Saga and introduce characters that become major players in the novel, and characters you’ll be familiar with if you’ve played any of the games. The titular story, Sword of Destiny, is in the fact the first story to introduce the reader to Ciri.

There are a total of 6 stories in Sword of Destiny and they are loosely linked in chronological order; the first of which centres around a Dragon Hunt story line which introduces a few of the characters referenced and seen in The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings video game. The stories include The Bounds of Reason, A Shard of Ice, The Eternal Fire, A Little Sacrifice, The Sword of Destiny and Something More.

As I approached the end of this book, I began to understand the relationship between Geralt and Ciri more than ever before, expanding upon what you learn in the game The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt, the connection that develops and is described makes the book a must read for all those Witcher fans out there.

Thanks to Orion Books for their support

[rprogress value=85 text=”TiX Score 85%”]

Published just a couple of days after award winning RPG; The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt, Sword of Destiny is available from all major bookshops and online retailers for the RRP of £16.99 (softback) or £8.99 in eBook format.

sword-of-destiny

Bigger font size promised in a future Witcher patch

CD Projekt RED’s Community Lead & Website Coordinator, Marcin Momot, has taken to twitter to answer concerns over The Witcher’s small text size:

As noted in my review:

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

It’s good to know that I’m not the only one that found the text to be on too small – I’ve now cancelled my eye test!

More free DLC heading to The Witcher

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:

WitcherDLC

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!

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt review

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.

The_Witcher_3_Wild_Hunt_Alas,_poor_Yorick

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.

The_Witcher_3-Wild_Hunt_Skellige_is_a_beautiful_place

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.

The_Witcher_3_Wild_Hunt_They_call_this_civilization--I_feel_safer_in_the_woods

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.

The_Witcher_3_Wild_Hunt-Geralt_torching_his_enemies

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_Witcher_3_Wild_Hunt_The_sirens_may_look_beautiful_in_the_water-but_once_they're_out_of_it-they_change_into_deadly-flying_creatures.

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!

Thanks to Xbox and Namco Bandai for their support

[rprogress value=98 text=”TiX Score 98%”]
[xyz-ihs snippet=”XboxOne”][xyz-ihs snippet=”Pegi18″]

https://youtu.be/HbvcypoU5TE