My First Few Hours with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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TL;DR Buy it.

I asked a good friend of mine recently if I should check out The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and, knowing my huge adversity to overwhelming RPGs like Skyrim, he said I should probably steer clear. Ever the rebel, I bought it anyway. After playing a few hours, I’m both impressed and hooked.

I soared through the tutorial, which was surprisingly short and very intuitive, after watching a cutscene. The story opener was beautifully rendered and provided ample explanation for the world, but I can already tell it’ll be tough to follow every tiny detail without having read the novels. Still, the setting is vast, gorgeous, and populated with truly interesting characters.

The-Witcher-3-Wild-HuntJust after the tutorial, I pushed forward with a few story missions that introduced me to the structure of the game, and I played a few matches of Gwent, a card game that various NPCs enjoy. Once turned loose into the world, I wandered about in search of side missions. They ranged from comically easy (an old lady needed me to search for her frying pan, taken by a mysterious man, so I walked into his house, found the man dead, and returned the lady’s pan) to dull fetch experience (I had to kill a few monsters and find a box for a merchant) to well-structured and legitimately fun (I searched an abandoned town for clues about a ghost haunting a well, then drew the spirit out and destroyed it). Just those three missions took me an hour or so to play through, and they did a fantastic job of teaching me the game’s systems–I prepared a potion to help me expel the ghost and learned how to exploit it’s weaknesses.

I returned to the story by searching for a griffin that was terrorizing a village. Fighting the monster was a highlight; it behaved believably (as much as a griffin in a fantasy computer game can, I suppose) and provided plenty of challenge.

The Witcher: Wild Hunt is showing tons of promise so far. As a huge fan of side missions and realized worlds, it’s a satisfying experience that I expect will only get better. My advice so far is to buy it and experience the wonder for yourself.