Game-related ramblings.

Tag: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Blood And Wine Is A Heartfelt Farewell To Geralt Of Rivia

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At long last, I have finished The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Which is to say, I’ve finished its second and final story DLC, Blood and Wine. I’ve already written three entire posts about the base game, plus one more about the first story DLC, Hearts of Stone. Blood and Wine is quite a bit larger than Hearts of Stone was, set in an entirely new location: the Duchy of Toussaint. This duchy played host to some important events in Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels on which the Witcher games are based, and it’s a fitting place for protagonist Geralt of Rivia’s story to end. And an ending it surely is. The developers at CD Projekt RED have gone all out for Geralt’s final farewell.

Hearts Of Stone Lets The Witcher 3 Break Away From Sapkowski’s Books

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Don’t get me wrong. All three Witcher games are enormously enriched by being based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher books. The world Sapkowski created is so much more interesting than standard fantasy genre fare, full of dangerous creatures and magical curses inspired by Slavic folklore, rather than yet another Tolkien retread. The narratives are also very personal, even when events span the continent, and they offer a wonderful glimpse at how stories become legends, how grim events morph into fairy tales. The Witcher games largely capture the feel of this world, a place where society has grown around magic and monsters, and people — be they kings, soldiers, or lowly peasants — are often worse than either. It makes the games cohesive and memorable, with a flavor that no other games offer.

But, as I pointed out when I nitpicked about The Witcher 3, the games also suffer from being too beholden to Sapkowski’s writing. Whether it’s reenacting prior events from the books despite taking place afterwards, or shoehorning in characters from the novels just to have them appear, The Witcher 3 is too caught up in Sapkowski’s saga to really stand on its own. It’s also trying to act as a sequel to a series of books that already has a great ending. In Hearts of Stone, the first of two story DLCs for the game, the writers are instead free to tell a new story in Sapkowski’s world, and it’s all the more interesting for it.

Some Witcher 3 Nitpicking

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At long last, I have finished The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Although I still have two DLC story packs to play through, so I’m actually very much not finished. But I’ve done the main story, and I was waiting for that to conclude before posting about the game again. I’ve already written about how good it is, and celebrated its variety of faces, but now that I’ve spent more time with the game, I’ve found a few problems. It’s time for some complaining.

The first thing I want to complain about is the writing, which is a weird thing to say. On the one hand, the writing is really good: the quests in The Witcher 3 are so much more interesting than those in other role-playing games, each a little story with its own twists and surprising details. The game was rightfully lauded for this. But at the same time, a lot of the writing in the game feels like bad Witcher fan fiction.

Celebrating The Many Faces Of The Witcher 3

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As I continue to play through The Witcher 3, I’ve found myself surprisingly interested in characters’ faces. At first, I wasn’t sure why. They are noticeably less detailed than faces from more recent games, so it’s not because of graphical fidelity. But each seemed eminently memorable, and somehow I never seemed to see the same face twice. Where the hordes of non-player characters in most games quickly become a haze of similar looking people, often with the exact same faces appearing again and again, The Witcher 3’s distinctive cast is an impressive accomplishment. I soon realized the game’s secret. Most games include characters that adhere to a standard of bland attractiveness, probably inherited from films where everyone is good looking because they’re all actors. But The Witcher 3 is not afraid to make its characters ugly.

Starting The Witcher 3: The Trepidation

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Back in 2015, I played The Witcher 2 for the second time, to get ready for the then-imminent Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Having played the series from the beginning and enjoyed its excellent sense of character, I was excited to play the hotly anticipated third entry, which earned accolades on release. I was even reading the novels upon which the games are based as I replayed The Witcher 2, so I’d have the full background I needed going in to the third installment. Unfortunately, when the time came to fire up The Witcher 3, my aging computer could barely run it. I decided to hold off until I could build a new one.

But I didn’t actually build a new computer until four years later. And even then, I didn’t fire up The Witcher 3 right away, continually putting it off for one reason or another. Only now, after another two years have passed — and after reading the novels again, to be sure I had them fresh in my memory — have I finally started playing The Witcher 3. Why did it take me so long? For all my excuses at the time, the real reason is that I had The Trepidation.

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