The Witcher 3’s reputedly a massive game (200 hours is the figure given for a pretty comprehensive playthrough), so it’ll be a while before I review it properly. In the meantime, here are my initial impressions.
I’ve got to start on a negative note. Some people who get the physical copy of the PS4 edition enter an infinite loading loop on the first load screen. I did get past this, but it’s a frustrating start and took me a while. Suggested remedies (which I tried) include clearing some hard drive disk space, disconnecting from the internet, and uninstalling then reinstalling game data (I also restarted, after my free space, weirdly, was in freefall. Upon restarting, it returned to normal).
Once you get past that and can save, the problem does not recur (or hasn’t for me, at any rate).
Voice-acting’s top notch. Most importantly, Geralt’s got the voice to match his appearance and prowess. The world is intriguing, and avoids the videogame equivalent of info-dumping by just letting things unfold naturally. I haven’t played either previous game, but didn’t feel all at sea. Side-quests (only done half a dozen or so) often have surprises, and are interesting in themselves [no bland shopping lists or take X to Y so far]. Morality has many shades of grey, and several reds too.
I found combat a bit tricky to get into, but quite satisfying. There are three large school sets (weapons, alchemy [includes bombs and poisons] and magic) and one smaller [general] one. I’m going for a magic-focused build, and the spells seem nicely balanced, strong enough to be useful without being overpowered. Of games I’ve played, the closest equivalent is Dragon’s Dogma, although you’re usually alone in TW3 and you’re always a hybrid class rather than going down entirely warrior, alchemical or magical routes. In common with Dragon’s Dogma, there’s no enemy scaling. I wandered into a village at level 5 and found myself facing three level 20 beasts. The ensuing fight was not an episode of undiluted glory for Geralt.
Mounted combat is difficult at speed but you can do lots of damage and I cut one man asunder (I didn’t just lop his head off. I cut his torso in two, from one shoulder diagonally through his chest and abdomen down to his hip).
Too early to comment on the main story. Moral decisions, such as I’ve encountered, are finely balanced, with options for receiving bribes a couple of times. I may have accidentally unleashed a plague. Ahem.
The graphics are very nice indeed. Frame rate issues (with the initial patching) are minimal, and I only mention that in passing because of the pre-release negativity. It didn’t happen often and hasn’t diminished my enjoyment of the game. Special mention must be made of the landscapes, which often look gorgeous, to the extent that I’ve paused a few times to admire the scenery.
Gwent, the card game, is lots of fun and very easy to understand.
It’s quite addictive. Yesterday, I seemed to be just getting into it and realised I’d been playing for a full hour.
Downsides, initial load screen aside? I don’t have enough time to play it properly. And loading a save from the main menu requires an internet connection if you have the Beard DLC. Except that sometimes, for reasons I do not understand, it doesn’t.
The game itself appears to combine the open world of Skyrim, the narrative strength of Dragon Age, and the morality of Game of Thrones. And it’s got 200 hours of gameplay. Which is nice.
Can’t give it a proper score, but right now it feels like five star territory.