The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Impressions: First Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a beautiful, well-polished game, but lacks some of the expected challenge. Our impressions.

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The Witcher carries a legacy that’s both daunting and exciting. Having heard so much about the series, and since I missed the prior two, I was eager to cut my teeth on the most recent release. While I found it polished, beautiful, and soaked in lore that fleshed out the world, it wasn’t the revolutionary experience I was hoping for. 

Witching, the Easy Way

I was surprised to find that it was less difficult than I’d thought. Challenge is relative, of course, and I played on what is the equivalent to the "hard" difficulty setting, but I didn’t break much of a sweat taking on bosses even several levels below the recommended quest level. I did appreciate that this meant I could make my way through the game at my own pace, though, without grinding side quests to level up between missions.

Easy though it may be, the combat felt fast and furious. The simple fast and strong attacks worked fine at first, but as I progressed through the main story I found myself relying more and more on magic spells that can be used to defend yourself, set traps or attack enemies. Magic can increase your defense for a single attack, stun an enemy to hold them in place or blast enemies with a damaging fire spell.

For those willing to venture off the main path, there are a ton of side quests in every area. They’re largely optional, and skipping them won’t really impact your ability to finish the game. You'll only need to do a few just to make sure you're not under-leveled. If you're engrossed in the story and want to keep moving, there isn't as much forced grinding as you might find in other games of the genre.

I also found The Witcher 3 surprisingly eager to hold my hand. Offering recommended levels that were still fairly simple was just the beginning. Your next objective is always marked on the map, NPCs with quests are marked for easy location, and even basic crafting loot is mapped out for you. I’m not a fan of the recent trend to spell out so much information, especially in deep world-focused RPGs, but it did allow me to more fully immerse myself in the story and lore without needing to focus on mechanical details.

A Matter of Choice

Geralt is not particularly personable, but you can make him a bit more kind-hearted with your dialogue choices. This is a more traditional RPG in that you don't create your character, but you can mold him to your liking. As you level up you can use attribute points to acquire new abilities or increase of the potency of existing abilities. It takes quite a bit to acquire new abilities, which actually made it more accessible for me. I found I could focus on the abilities I already had instead of planning out which new ability I should unlock.

The dialogue options are plentiful. They don’t always change the outcome of the conversation, but a handful of them provide additional information and will even impact your ending. You can even have a few illicit encounters with certain characters if you've got a quick tongue—pun certainly intended.

All in the Presentation

All of this is presented in a package that is suitably gorgeous and well-presented. The environments, voice work and animations all feel very polished. You shift from sprawling landscapes of golden fields to dreary swamplands filled with murky foes. I went from riding a horse, to sailing a ship, and while the horse could be stubborn on occasion (especially going up a hill) it was a seamless experience. You're even given a quick rundown of where you left off each time you load up the game.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is very easy to digest, but lengthy nonetheless. It will take you hours upon hours to get from start to finish, and that's if you skip most of the side quests. If you fully engross yourself in the experience you'll be playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for weeks. I was disappointed that I didn’t find anything revolutionary in it, but it’s so well-polished that I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it regardless.


These impressions are based on a PlayStation 4 debug disc provided by the publisher. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be available digitally and in retail stores on May 19, for $59.99. The game is rated M.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 12, 2015 10:15 AM

    Bryan Dawson posted a new article, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Impressions: First Hunt

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      May 12, 2015 11:12 AM

      nice. How are the controls? I tend to shy away from european games because the controls tend to be clumsy, although I must admit that I'm a bit more sensitive to controls than most people.

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        May 13, 2015 7:11 AM

        This is the exact thing I'm wondering. Controls of a game are my number one make it or break it aspect of any game.

        I was really liking Witcher 2 on PC until I had a couple or really bad combat experiences.The first one was the troll outside of Flotsam. He was throwing boulders at me,I completely dodged them,but was still getting hit and taking damage.I did end up beating him,but it was pretty frustrating.Part of it was TERRIBLE hit detection,the other part is control response (without mods) is atrociously slow for a game with that much combat and is totally unacceptable.

        The second was the fight against that swamp monster outside of Flotsam. The dodge was completely broken and no matter what I did,I couldn't get past it,so I said fuck this game! One of THE most frustrating gaming experiences I've ever had,so I'm VERY cautious about playing another Witcher game.

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      May 12, 2015 11:23 AM

      Curious to see if the performance on PS4 holds up for the release version. Some reviews reported frame rate drops in the debug review copy.

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        May 12, 2015 12:20 PM

        I'm kinda tempted to bide my time (and money) until I have a better computer. Between Witcher 3 and GTA V, I'm feeling very motivated to TRIGGER RIG very soon.

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      May 12, 2015 11:23 AM

      game is only 25GB. no thanks.

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      May 12, 2015 11:46 AM

      Why did you expect the 3rd game in a series to be revolutionary?

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        May 12, 2015 11:51 AM

        uh, if there was a nobel prize in Awesome, Super Mario Bros. 3 would have won it. You could FLY!!!!!!!!!!

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          May 12, 2015 11:55 AM

          wasn't Metroid like this? nes, gamebow, snes?

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