The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine Review - The Land of Love and Wine Flows With Blood

Geralt’s story comes to a head in The Witcher 3's big finale. But is the land of Toussaint as interesting as we hoped? Or is Geralt’s last journey one of disappointment? Our review.

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The Witcher series is one of my all-time favorite video game trilogies, and it was with great sadness that I went into Blood and Wine. I wasn’t sad because I thought the expansion would be terrible, quite the opposite in fact, but I was sad because this means we’ve come to the end of Geralt’s storyline. Though he may be a brutal, emotionless, monster slaying machine, he’s also one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing as in a video game. Thankfully, CD Projekt Red has not disappointed, and Geralt’s final adventure is one of his most intriguing and exciting yet.

I was also very fond of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and the expansion, Hearts of Stone. You can read my thoughts on both by visiting their respective reviews.

A Whole New World

The story begins like any, it’s another day in the war-torn Northern Realms, and Geralt’s out looking for work. The notice boards have never let him down before, so we ride into a village and check out the notice pinned to the board. One happens to catch his eye, so he scoops it up, and heads to meet up with the men who left it behind. What follows is a quick reminder of just how brutal the Northern Realms can be. It’s a good way to introduce the upcoming story, because it helps to remind players of where they’re coming from, which makes Toussaint’s reveal that much more intriguing. It isn’t long before Geralt and his old friends are headed off to the land of love and wine.

Toussaint is more than just another addition to the base game’s world. The people there, the land surrounding their cities, and even the dialogue used is vastly different from the rough and broken dialogue of the Northern Realms. Honor, valor, compassion, and virtue are important in this new land, and that’s painfully clear from Geralt’s first encounter in the land. After a brief fight with a monster, Geralt gets straight to work. A beast has been killing in the land, and its newest victim has just been found on the bank of a nearby river.

It doesn’t take long to get back into the swing of things. Geralt’s Witcher Sense is still an essential tool that you’ll be making use of quite a lot, and it works as well as could be expected. Alongside the main questline, there are plenty of optional quests to complete, including several new Scavenger Hunts which feature some new Witcher armor pieces. Many of the quests are interesting, and intriguing, spilling out their own little stories as they did in the base game and Hearts of Stone expansion.

I was once tasked with exploring an old mansion, which was said to be haunted. During my investigation of the area, I learned that a rare Spotted Wight had taken up residence within the old house. My goal, to acquire some of the Wight's spittle, was clear, however, I was also given a chance to break the curse that afflicted the poor creature. Decided to follow my heart, I tried to cure the beast. I failed the first time around, but after a brief bout with a bug that somehow kept my choices from displaying, I was finally able to cure the creature, proving to myself that all Witcher aren't just heartless monster killers. It was a huge win for my vision of Geralt, and I felt like it really helped to prove how deep the meaning of your choices affect the world around you.

A Daring New Enemy

One of Blood and Wine’s biggest draw ins is the addition of over twenty new enemies to face off against. Many of these enemies are just new types of old enemies, however, they offer new challenges for the Witcher to face. Their designs are interesting, and while I often found myself struggling to take on some of the new enemies, it wasn’t that hard to take them down after a few tries. The main questline’s enemy is also very intriguing, and all throughout the experience I found myself wishing I could learn more about the beast that I had been sent to destroy.

Of course, like any good Witcher tale, choice is a vital part of the story, and your own choices can often determine who and what become your enemies. This is still the case in Blood and Wine, and I often found myself having to think for several moments before coming to a decision on some of the things that I was faced with. It’s a feeling that I haven’t experienced with many other games, and I believe it’s a vital part of what makes the Witcher series feel so alive.

The Witcher Redesigned

Another big part of this expansion is the newly designed user interface. CD Projekt Red have completely redesigned the game’s inventory system, making it much easier to use and explore. Items are now broken up by categories, and the equipment section is more clearly defined than it was in previous versions of the game. It’s something that many felt the game sorely needed, I was one such person, and it’s great to see so much love put into the game’s systems so long after release.

Armor dyes have also made their way into this new world, as colorful attire is a big component of the Toussaint lifestyle. These dyes can only be used on Witcher gear, however, which means those of you who enjoy wearing the frillier attire used by NPCs, might find yourselves a bit disappointed in the system. Like anything, dyes can be purchased or crafted, but you’re going to need to find the diagrams and recipes before you can create them yourself. It’s a nice new addition that really helps you personalize the Witcher gear that you find throughout the world, and it works easily enough without being overly complicated.

Another important addition to the game is the expanded New Game+ level, which now has a maximum level of 100. This gives players plenty of room to continue improving their character, as they're sure to want to do with the additional Mutations which have been added to Geralt's Mutagens. There are twelve new Mutations in all, which can be fully explored through the game's New Game+ mode. They aren't mandatory to complete the main questline, however they do add game-changing abilities that can help you turn the tide of battle with a simple sign cast.

For those who enjoy spending hours upon hours wandering through the land's Inns and playing others in Gwent, a new special Skellige deck has been added. It's a nice addition to an already massive time sink, and it was pretty cool having some new cards to search for, even if I don't play the card game that often myself.

A Fitting Finale

One of my favorite things about Blood and Wine is the main storyline’s ending. After you’ve completed the story, CD Project Red brings everything to a close. This means your decisions throughout the base game’s main storyline is important, and it plays into one of the moments you come across as you finish up the final bit of the expansion’s main quest. It’s a nice touch to really help things feel connected, and to further hit home the impact that your choices have on the game world as a whole.

Overall Blood and Wine is an excellent addition to the Witcher 3 universe. The new enemies, redesigned UI, and exceptionally well-crafted new land to explore are all pluses in my book. The main questline introduced for the expansion is intriguing, and gives much more insight into the world that Geralt has spent his life adventuring through. In the final moments CDPR brings everything together to really help the player’s impact on the world feel more real, and it’s something that very few developers have ever managed to really accomplish.

There wasn't much I didn't like about this new land, and while I did experience a few issues -- I once crashed several times during a major cutscene, which forced me to watch the first half of the scene multiple times-- overall the experience was fairly bug free. The world of Toussaint is a pleasure to explore, and it’s plenty big enough to keep you coming back for more of the Witcher series for days to come. All in all, it is the best ending we could have hoped for a character as interesting and well-crafted as Geralt of Rivia.


This review is based on a product code provided by the developers. The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine will release on May 31, and can be purchased online for $19.99. The game is rated M.

Guides Editor

Pros

  • Redesigned UI makes inventory easier to manage
  • World of Toussaint feels like more than just a simple add-on region
  • New enemies are both interesting and challenging
  • Plenty of new quests and characters to meet

Cons

  • Experienced a bug where reloading before a choice could cause the choice options not to display
  • Game crashed a few times during major cutscenes, forcing me to rewatch multiple times

From The Chatty

    • reply
      May 25, 2016 6:04 AM

      The Witcher 3 is definitely one of the best video games I've ever played. I'm looking forward to playing this. Great review.

    • reply
      May 25, 2016 6:05 AM

      Sounds awesome :D

    • rms
      reply
      May 25, 2016 7:36 AM

      typo s/proponent/component/

    • reply
      May 25, 2016 7:54 AM

      Penultimate means second to last, not last.

      • reply
        May 25, 2016 7:58 AM

        "Drawins" "their designed"

        If you expect us to read this stuff please read it yourself or better yet have someone else read it before you hit post. There are typos every other sentence.

        • reply
          May 25, 2016 8:40 AM

          Hey,

          Thanks for being quick to point out our mistakes. I believe the only way that we become better at what we do, is to see how we screwed things up. That being said, I've taken a look through the article and changed the things that you pointed out. They were simple mistakes which made it through both Steve's editing phase, and my own. It happens.

          Sorry for the mistakes, and sorry that they upset you so much. We're a small team, with a high workload, and on top of that... we're only human. We're going to make mistakes.

          Thanks for pointing them out and keeping up on top of things!

          • reply
            May 25, 2016 8:47 AM

            another way to become better is to start using spell check. this doesn't have to be hard

            • reply
              May 25, 2016 8:51 AM

              Spellcheck is used in every single article that I write, that doesn't change the fact that Microsoft's software isn't always going to point out issues (especially where words are switched around). I've also had many times where Microsoft will tell me a word is misspelled, when I know for certain that it is now. Solely relying on spell check is like playing Russian roulette with random words loaded into the cylinder.

              • reply
                May 25, 2016 8:57 AM

                all i know is some shack writers consistently have issues with typos and word choice and other shack writers put out pristine prose every time. i don't really believe there's a big disparity in skill between the writers, so that makes me think it's just a workflow/tools issue. a lot of the mistakes i've reported in the past would very obviously have been caught by a spell checker. this article seems to have fewer typos and more word choice and grammar problems that would be harder to detect though. (i don't think anybody really trusts Word's grammar check)

                • reply
                  May 25, 2016 9:07 AM

                  Yeah. Editing my own content is something I still struggle with, and I'll never claim to be perfect at it. I'm more than willing to admit my mistakes, and own up to them, but the issue for me definitely isn't a tools thing. I think it's more of a 'moving too fast' thing. I usually write out a rough draft of everything, and then edit it down to what it needs to be. That means sometimes I miss words that need to be changed out (like penultimate), and forget to add spaces between others (like draw ins). Other times my mind just fails me and I'm like "is that a word? I think that's a word..."

                  I can't speak for the others on the site, and I would never think to, but I can say I don't mind critique, when it's handed out the right way. Just saying something like "Ugh, spelling error. You suck. Don't ever write again." isn't the right way to handle critique, in my opinion. Us writers can be very defensive of our work, so when someone comes at us with that attitude, it can be very hard to sit back and take the criticism without wanting to say something snarky back.

                  I love it when you guys point out my mistakes. It helps make me better at what I love to do, because I assure you... I will make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes might make it through my editing phase. Rest assured, however, that I will do everything in my power to become a better writer because of those mistakes.

                  P.S. Did I mention that I hate commas? Like... have you ever read the rules for comma usage? It makes no flipping sense!

                  • reply
                    May 25, 2016 4:38 PM

                    For anything important, I often print my final draft and read the hard copy before submitting.

          • reply
            May 25, 2016 8:47 AM

            It's nice to have your own private army of up and coming editors though isn't it?

            • reply
              May 25, 2016 9:12 AM

              Nice... is a word for it. ;D

              I love all you guys, even the assholes like that David Craddock guy... but I'll never admit it in public.

          • reply
            May 25, 2016 9:28 AM

            Sorry for being rude, but I can tell you put a lot of time into this review and submitting it with a lot of errors that should have been obvious to anyone reading it and not just skimming seems like a bad idea. You did 99% of the work and skimped on the last 1%. Unfortunately skipping that last 1% makes your work harder to read. I can tell you all take a lot of pride in your work, but those are errors that shouldn't make it past your first pass, let alone your editor's.

            • reply
              May 25, 2016 9:30 AM

              Oh I don't disagree with you there. Not at all. It's an area that I'm ever-evolving at.

              You are completely right. The fault falls on me for not having found these errors myself. It's because I move too quickly when I edit. It's a bad trait, and something that I've been working on for a while. Sadly, old habits die hard.

              But I can assure you, it is something I'm striving to be better at, and something that comes with experience (which sadly, isn't something I have years and years of).

              • reply
                May 25, 2016 2:02 PM

                Sounds like you just need to slow down a bit at the end of your process. I know what it is to write under a deadline and it's hard to imagine you don't have time to employ the old but ever useful tool of putting the piece aside for half an hour (longer if you can) and then reading it once more (aloud if you can) before sending it out. Given that it's reviewed by your editor, it even seems that break is built into the process, so just be sure to take advantage of it (I know it can be hard with other things going on, but it's worth doing).

    • reply
      May 25, 2016 8:24 AM

      SO if this is the penultimate adveture for Geralt what's the last one going to be?

      • reply
        May 25, 2016 8:30 AM

        Well the joke's on you smart guy because the very last adventure is the end of Witcher 3. Everything else takes place before that. Clearly Josh Hawkins knows his stuff!

        • reply
          May 25, 2016 8:36 AM

          I wish I could claim that was my final notion when using that word, but sadly it was not. It was a simple error that I made in my rough draft, which somehow made it through both mine and Steve's editing phases. It happens. I've corrected it in the review.

        • reply
          May 25, 2016 8:39 AM

          I wasn't being a smart guy there, lol. I legitimately thought maybe Josh heard there would be another Geralt adventure because last I heard this was it for him.

      • reply
        May 25, 2016 8:37 AM

        Heh. Not sure how that one made it through editing. Was a word used in my rough draft, that should have been changed around. Thanks for pointing it out though!

        • reply
          May 25, 2016 4:41 PM

          You missed a golden opportunity to deny that you used the incorrect word 'but you couldn't comment any further.'

          • reply
            May 25, 2016 4:42 PM

            Yeah. I know. Was taught to always own up to my mistakes though.

    • reply
      May 25, 2016 1:52 PM

      I will eat this game.