The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a game that I will never stop trying to get people to play. CD Projekt RED’s 2015 RPG is an epic masterclass in open world design, storytelling, and immersive gameplay.
The game is currently available at 70 percent off – that’s £7.39 – on the EU PlayStation store. For less than a tenner, you’re getting at least 100 hours of gameplay, and that doesn’t even factor in the fantastic, comprehensive expansions which you can grab from the store for another couple of quid.
If you’ve somehow never heard of The Witcher 3, or you’ve only ever heard of it in passing from friends, allow me to offer you a brief primer. You play as a Witcher called Geralt of Rivia. Witchers are essentially mercenaries who have undergone magical and chemical mutations that make them more than human.
Given that Witchers like Geralt aren’t quite human anymore, the majority of the public regard them with fear and suspicion. This isn’t helped by an ongoing war in which opportunistic factions are using those who support and use magic as scapegoats to further their own ends, a theme which is unfortunately still far too resonant for comfort in 2019.
The real meat of The Witcher 3 sees Geralt on a quest to find his adopted daughter, one that takes him to every corner of the game’s rich, detailed world. You’ll discover vast oceans, war torn ruins, snow dappled mountain peaks, sinister swamps, and a whole host of characters so beautifully fleshed out they could all star in their own video game series.
I won’t go into any more detail on the story, because experiencing the twists, turns, and impactful choices for yourself is a huge part of the ride. Rest assured, by the time the credits roll, you will have had seen and done some serious shit.
If you know anybody who’s played the game, ask them about the Bloody Baron questline and see how they react. I know I’m still not over it.
All of this is helped along by some stellar performances, namely Doug Cockle, who provides the gravelly voice of Geralt and is more than capable of delivering some of the game’s funniest lines along with its most serious and emotional moments.
I first played The Witcher 3 back in 2016, and the reason I have been so evangelical about it since “finishing” my adventure a few months later is that I’m aware it can be quite a tough game to get into. I know a fair few people who couldn’t get past the first couple of hours and ended up parting ways with their copies, and I really do get why.
One of the big reasons (or excuses) I see thrown around for why people haven’t gotten into The Witcher 3 is that they feel they’ll be completely lost and confused in the game’s story and returning characters, mostly because it’s the third and final game in the trilogy.
To this, I can honestly say you have nothing to worry about. I had never heard of The Witcher franchise until I played Wild Hunt, and what you aren’t told during the game’s opening hours, you simply work out from context.
Relationships with returning characters are always explained with a few efficient lines of dialogue, and most of what happens over the course of the main story really does feel like a self contained tale, not the final chapter of a trilogy. You’ll have no problem jumping in, trust me.
There’s also no getting around the fact that The Witcher 3 gets off to an incredibly slow and methodical start. The lengthy cutscenes, involved lore, and amount of preparation you need to put into slaying monsters and travelling the world can feel like a slog at first, but like Red Dead Redemption 2, it’s simply a matter of adjusting to the game’s pace.
Once you do, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most gorgeous, expansive, and intriguing worlds in any video game. The sheer amount of things to do and see is simply staggering. I’ve put over 200 hours into the game across PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and I can still turn off the mini map, wander around freely, and come across a quest, cave, or monster that will completely take me by surprise.
In addition to the main story, there’s an incredible wealth of side content that puts every other AAA open world game I’ve ever played to shame. There are treasure hunts that see you exploring every inch of the world for new armour and weapons, monster contracts that play out like a medieval episode of CSI, and everything in between.
Look, I know a lot of people like to trot out the whole “oh em gee The Witcher 3 is overrated trash” line, but those people are idiots. There’s a reason the game won over 250 awards, and there’s a reason people (myself included) refuse to shut up about it, even four years after release.
Simply put, The Witcher 3 is one of the best, and most important games ever made, and I say that without a whiff of hyperbole. To not pick it up for £7 would be nothing short of criminal, quite frankly. Don’t do it for me. Do it for you.
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Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.