The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Tech Advisor - - REVIEWS -

The Witcher 3 is one of the most an­tic­i­pated game re­leases of 2015. Avail­able on Xbox One, PlayS­ta­tion 4 and PC, it has a huge open world to ex­plore along with a great com­bat sys­tem and more en­e­mies than you can shake a stick at.

It starts, as many games do, with a tu­to­rial that in­tro­duces play­ers to the me­chan­ics of the game and the com­bat sys­tem. De­spite be­ing a bit slow to start, with con­ver­sa­tions that you want to skip to get into the ac­tion, the tu­to­rial gave us a taste of what was to come – and we liked it. It also in­tro­duced us to the main char­ac­ters in Witcher 3: Ger­alt, Yen­nifer and Ciri, which is great for those of you (like us) who didn’t play Witcher 1 and 2 be­cause there are more char­ac­ters in Witcher 3 than you’ll be able to re­mem­ber.

One fan­tas­tic as­pect of The Witcher 3 is the cause-and-ef­fect style sys­tem it uses. You’re con­stantly in­ter­act­ing with peo­ple and the choices you make in these con­ver­sa­tions can have ad­verse ef­fects not only for the per­son you’re speak­ing to, but whole com­mu­ni­ties at times.

It can also ef­fect how peo­ple act to­wards you, both pos­i­tively and neg­a­tively. For ex­am­ple, early on in the game you have the choice of whether or not to ac­cept coin from a mer­chant that you’d just saved. We chose to re­ject the money from the (poor) mer­chant and he, in re­turn, gave us in­for­ma­tion about the lo­ca­tion we were look­ing for and even of­fered a huge dis­count on any items in his store. It pays to be nice some­times guys!

We were sur­prised about the va­ri­ety of side quests avail­able. Wher­ever you go, you’ll be greeted with sec­ondary tasks that range from bare knuckle fight­ing to slay­ing a ghost that has been taint­ing the vil­lage well. Though most of these can be found via no­tice boards in towns and vil­lages, some only pop up when you’re near them, while oth­ers de­pend on your ac­tions in con­ver­sa­tion.

How­ever it’s not only the va­ri­ety of side quests that sur­prised us, it’s about the qual­ity of the side quest. They could easily pass for main story quests – in fact, at times we thought we were un­der­tak­ing a main story task when it was in fact a side quest. Though farm­ing berries is a (rather te­dious) part of a hand­ful of side quests, they’re much more than that.

Side quests usu­ally pro­duce unim­pres­sive re­wards, but ev­ery now and again you get some fan­tas­tic good­ies. For ex­am­ple, we helped some­one save her daugh­ter by brew­ing a Witcher po­tion and in re­turn she gave us a book about vam­pires. You can read the book to add the en­try to your Bes­tiary, ac­ces­si­ble via the main menu, to find out more in­for­ma­tion about your op­po­nents in bat­tle in­clud­ing its weak­nesses.

Though that by it­self may not sound im­pres­sive, on the next story quest we came across a vam­pire that we had to slay. How do we kill it? What are its weak­nesses? Oh wait, we can just check the Bes­tiary and find out. The point is that even though it may not be amaz­ing at the time, even the small­est re­wards can come in handy and give you the up­per hand at vi­tal mo­ments through­out the game.

Open world en­vi­ron­ment

The Witcher 3 is open world, and it’s huge – we’ve yet to ex­plore the map in its en­tirety af­ter over 40 hours of game­play. It’s not all sim­i­lar ei­ther, there’s a huge va­ri­ety of en­vi­ron­ments and each re­gion has its own unique char­ac­ter­is­tics, be it the war-torn re­gion of Viz­ima or the vast city of Ve­len.

The sheer scale of the open world com­bined with side quests mean that ex­plor­ing in The Witcher 3 is ex­tremely fun. It’ll al­most al­ways pro­duce a unique ex­pe­ri­ence filled with ev­ery­thing from tak­ing down a grif­fin to sword fight­ing with a group of out­laws. Com­bat aside, there are many lo­ca­tions to ex­plore and scav­enge, some that even re­quire a boat to ac­cess.

Ex­plo­ration is only im­proved by the dy­namic time and weather. It’s in­ter­est­ing how a slight change in weather or time can greatly change the look of a par­tic­u­lar en­vi­ron­ment. One is­land, for ex­am­ple, is omi­nous at night, with ghouls and drown­ers roam­ing around a half-dead for­est sur­round­ing a di­lap­i­dated tower. How­ever, once morn­ing comes and you see the rays of sun­shine through the trees, the scene changes and sud­denly the on-edge feel­ing we had dis­ap­pears.

Sun­rises and sun­sets are par­tic­u­larly gor­geous and the rain looks and sounds re­al­is­tic. Though it may not have the level of de­tail as, say, Drive­Club, it’s more than enough and adds to the level of re­al­ism that you feel when play­ing a role-play­ing game such as this.

We re­viewed The Witcher 3 on a gam­ing PC with an nVidia Geforce GTX 960 GPU and were able to run it at full 1080p in ‘Ul­tra’ level graph­ics. Also, by set­ting the fram­er­ate to ‘un­lim­ited’, we got beau­ti­ful re­sults av­er­ag­ing around the 80- to 90fps mark. These two fac­tors pro­duced game­play that was stun­ning.

We ex­pected the fram­er­ate to drop when in a crowded area, such as in the city of Ve­len, but for the most part this wasn’t the case. There’s just one sin­gle place (that we know of) that re­duced the frame rate slightly, and that’s at Crow’s

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