Review | The Witcher: Blood & Wine

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Hmm – finally some time to sit down and write about what might easily be one of my most favorite games of this generation. As a huge fan of the genre (you might recall Dragon Age: Inquisition was my Game of the Year in 2014) I have played my fair share of RPGs. That being said I have to admit that The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt has been an experience like no other.

I’ve literally lost hundreds of hours roaming around in the astonishing world of The Continent and I truly regret that I’ve never found the proper time to write a review of the ‘standalone’ game. However, with the release of the latest downloadable content, titled Blood & Wine, this already magnificent game became so much better, I just had to tell you about it!

Silver for Monsters

Right from the get-go The Witcher 3 made a lasting impression: “Dear Gamer. First of all, we would like to thank you for your support. We really appreciate that you have decided to spend your hard-earned money on our game and hope that you will have a fun time playing it.” – a thank you note was included in the box written by the developer of the game, CD Projekt Red. The note further states that the developer prepared a flood of free downloadable content for the rightful owner. While the free DLC turned out to be nice additions to the base game, many players were hoping for exciting new stories to take part of or new areas to explore.

Beauclair

Beauclair

As is usually the case with many big open-world RPGs, The Witcher 3 also suffered from quite a few nasty quirks at launch. Unstable framerates, clunky controls and bad user interface design were some of the most voiced complaints by gamers. Some of these issues have gradually been fixed with regular game updates, but the bad user interface mostly remained (athough its readability was slightly improved). Luckily, CD Projekt Red took all complaints very serious, because the latest game update, mainly to prepare the game for the very last DLC, gave the game’s UI a serious overhaul. Not only has the user interface been improved to better fit consoles, it has also become much more comprehensible. A real treat for longtime players or new fans of the franchise, since it should make their gameplay experience smoother.

I Cannot Let You Leave

Personally, I never really ran into any issues and thus my gameplay experience has always been a smooth one. Having finished most of the game a long while back, picking up from where I left off was not a problem. Sure, I had to get used to the new and improved controls that one of the earlier updates introduced to the game, but it’s good to know you can switch back to the ways of old if preferred. The main story quest of Blood & Wine starts as many others do in The Witcher; you pick it up from a notice board. All the quests you pick up that are part of the new DLC have been marked in a red color to distinguish themselves from the main game. The main quest starts off rather dull – yet another fight against bandits – but before you know it, you’re fighting a big angry giant in the brand new world of Toussaint. Toussaint is a vibrant magical Kingdom ruled by Duchess Anna Henrietta. The world was specifically crafted for Geralt’s newest adventure and its skyline is rather symbolic for the world’s improved graphics – a true sight for sore eyes. The core gameplay however, remains untouched. Meaning if you were not a fan of the game to begin with, the release of this DLC will probably not change your opinion. In any case, for me, Toussaint proved to be yet another exciting playground to lose even more hours to this great game. It simply managed to hook me once more.

Not long after the fight with the big angry giant, the player is introduced to a thick new plot: The Kingdom of Toussaint is being terrorized! Seemingly random murders have been commited by what is expected to be a great devilish beast.  The Duchess enlists the help of the player to rid the land of Toussaint from this monstrosity. How the story unfolds is entirely up to the player  After completing my version of the story I checked a few of the branching storylines on YouTube and was surprised by how many there actually are. So restarting your experience from scratch might just result in an entirely different ending.

Beauclair

Beauclair

Your quest will take you to many exciting new places, like your own vineyard for example. A huge piece of land of which you’ll become the sole owner. Now that the player can finally own some real estate, he can choose to upgrade it if his coin allows him to. A fun new addition for fans who went on to become a millionaire from clever trading. Nearing the end of the DLC you’ll also have a one time opportunity to visit the ‘Land of a Thousand Fables’. I won’t spoil the events that take place in this mythical world, but as you can probably tell from the screenshots above, it’s worth spending some time exploring to uncover its secrets, since you’ll only be able to enter it once. The fact that it also looks breathtaking is a nice added bonus.

Yes, I Do…

Some developers get downloadable content right. CD Projekt Red has managed to do just that. Blood & Wine easily transcends what many have come to expect of downloadable content. It adds another thirty plus-hours of adventure in an entirely new and visually stunning world. Players can extend the playtime even more as the branching new storyline will make sure you’ll replay this adventure more than once. The pinnacle of the DLC must be the opportunity to visit the ‘Land of a Thousand Fables’. The events therein surely will leave a lasting impression if this fabulous DLC didn’t already manage to do so.

About author

Patrick Streutjens

A big Max Payne fan, Patrick Streutjens started writing news and articles for PayneReactor in 2003. After the retirement of the site’s founder (Kristian Hollund) he’s the current owner, designer and sole writer of PayneReactor. Streutjens was born on the 4th of September in 1991 and has a career at computer manufacturer MSI as an International Marketing and Communication officer.

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