The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Review Journal Day 3 – Bloody Hunting


If you missed my initial impressions from the first 3 hours of gameplay you can read them here.

I’m now closing in on 10 hours with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but I feel like I’m still only scratching the surface. I’m still learning the game, and the higher difficulty setting isn’t make things any easier for me. The difficult fights are taking me many attempts to win and I’m even stumbling on what should be easy encounters.

I’m in a constant internal debate over dropping the difficulty down a notch, but I haven’t convinced myself to do it yet. I played The Witcher 2 on the hard difficulty up until the final boss battle, so I’d like to think I can make it through The Witcher 3. Every time I lose a fight in Wild Hunt I know exactly what I did wrong, so I don’t find these repeated deaths frustrating. They usually occur when I digress into a button-mashing mindset and think I can kill something before it has a chance to retaliate.

Whenever I have the proper potions ready and take my time I do fine, so I’m sticking to the harder difficulty for now.

What I’m Loving

The job of a Witcher is to hunt monsters, so I was disappointed in the low amount of actual monster hunts in the previous game. There were some, but a lack of variety and a focus on political matters left me yearning for a more hunts and beastly encounters. The Witcher 3 has been delivering on that front incredibly well. There are tons of contracts to be found, and even the side quest hunts require a level of preparation that used to be saved for only the main story. The griffin is my biggest trophy so far, but even the random encounters I’ve come across are just as rewarding.

While riding through the woods I heard the ominous growls of a creature ahead. I left my horse behind and carefully approached to discover a huge bear feasting on his fresh kill. He stood between me and a place of power (a magical monument that grants a lengthy buff), so I drew my blade and ignited a torch. We squared off beneath the dark moonlit canopy of the forest and began a methodical dance of blocks strikes and dodges.

My encounter with a bear in the woods was no hunt, yet I felt just as satisfied when I finally slayed him. I’m loving that CD Projekt Red has managed to capture this feeling of accomplishment in almost every encounter thus far.

What Concerns Me

After almost 10 hours I haven’t found anything to seriously complain about; I have very few quarrels or concerns with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. One of the few concerns I do have is the “Witcher Sense;” while not new to the series I find the new visual effect off-putting and slightly nauseating. I recognize this is a very subjective concern, but it goes deeper than aesthetics.

I’m growing suspicious that its use as a tracking device will become very repetitive very quickly. So far a majority of side quest tasks, while meaningful and enjoyable, involve Geralt staring at the ground while using his witcher sense. This ability had a cooldown in The Witcher 2 so it wasn’t used as frequently, and there were various puzzles and objectives that involved more that just finding highlighted items with your spidey senses.

I can specifically recall a puzzle that required me to purchase rune books from a merchant before I could decode a riddle that sealed away a treasure. My hope is that these more involved puzzles and obstacles are still present in The Witcher 3, but it’s too soon to know.

What Shocked Me

I encountered my first instance of armed combat with humans and was notably shocked by the level of graphic slaughter Geralt is capable of. The gore system in Wild Hunt is impressive, blood soaks your tunic as you lop off a monster’s limbs, and when used against your fellow man it becomes even more brutal. I laughed giddily after slicing a drowner in half on the beach, but recoiled in shock after decapitating my first bandit.

While it borders on flashy pulp violence, it never crosses the line, and The Witcher 3 is keeping a somber tone towards bloodshed. This was highlighted in an intense and moving scene as I regrouped with Vesemir in the tavern. The violence is graphic and gory but so far Wild Hunt has handled the narrative side of this bloodshed in a mature and thoughtful manner, reinforcing the strength of the story.

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