Note: This is going to contain some spoilers for the early part of The Witcher
Making an update post for The Witcher 3 every thirty hours or so seems like a good marker to use, so I’m here to talk about my thoughts so far! While I want to do a larger review at the end of my playthrough, this is a massive game filled with intricate details, so doing some ongoing thoughts seems appropriate here. It will also be neat to see if my early complaints lessen or new ones arise as I play more. Let’s see what I’ve been up to so far!
First of all, I just want to point out that every person in The Witcher 3‘s universe is more interesting than Geralt himself. He’s monotone and generally emotionless, although I do appreciate his dry sense of humor. I know there’s a lore reason for why he is the way he is and that it has something to do with the horrific process of becoming this awesome monster hunter and the poisons he has consumed over the years, but that doesn’t make him any more fun to play. Every time I get to play as Ciri in a flashback sequence, I desperately want to just keep playing as her instead of the cardboard box I’m currently forced to endure. The side characters keep me playing because I find everyone I have met so far to be engaging and interesting, with their own views on politics and morality, but Geralt really does like to rain on my parade sometimes.
In terms of the main quest, I have worked through the entirety of the Velen questline and started the Novigrad chain, having just met Triss when I last saved. The primary story so far is perfectly serviceable, but I wouldn’t say that I’m overly invested yet. I mostly just want to know why the two biggest games of 2015 both revolve around the protagonist making a desperate search for their lost child. Since the first portion of the game seems to involve Geralt going to different areas and screaming Ciri’s name at the top of his lungs like he’s in Heavy Rain, I’m going to hope that the story gets better once we get more information about this Wild Hunt business.
Speaking of the main story, I need some help here. Should I romance Triss or Yennifer? Honestly, Yennifer seems kind of manipulative and toxic, but I’ve heard that she has more story significance and it’s better to go for her on a first playthrough. As much as I prefer Triss because I think she’s kinder to Geralt, I don’t want to choose her if the game isn’t really built around her in the long run. I don’t know, but it’s actually stressing me out to the point that I don’t want to keep playing the main story because I don’t want to unintentionally lead them on and get dumped by both of them.
The shining gem of this game is definitely the side quests and stories. Keira’s questline involving the haunted tower and the plague maiden has been a highlight of my experience thus far. I’m really curious about what happens if you trust the plague maiden and bring her bones to her boyfriend, but I suspect nothing good comes of that outcome and I’m a bit terrified to ever find out. In general, I do see why people say there’s so much more to see in a second playthrough of this game, although that does lead me to a slight irritation I have.
I have found multiple instances of locking myself out of quests or objectives due to what I generally believe is poor quest design. For example, the Bloody Baron asks Geralt to go visit Tamara, his daughter, during his questline, but doesn’t get out of the conversation. If Geralt has already gone to visit the orphans in Crookback Bog, he knows the whereabouts of the Baron’s wife, Anna, and can say so immediately after receiving this request. As soon as Geralt states this, the Baron rounds up the troops to invade the bog and I miss the opportunity to visit Tamara because that objective immediately fails. Given that I never got out of the dialogue prompts in order to see it was a request added and then failed, it irritated me a bit to miss a part of the story because I clearly played the main quest in an order the game did not anticipate.
There’s another instance here where I started a quest in Novigrad involving one of Geralt’s old friends. It turns out that starting this quest prevents me from doing something later on in Skellige. These quests could have been done in the reverse order if I had picked up the Skellige quest first, but based on the recommended levels of the main quest (Novigrad’s is ten, whereas Skellige’s is sixteen), I haven’t gone to Skellige yet because it seems like the game wants me to go to the different regions in a specific order. Quests like this make me feel like I’m being punished for playing my RPGs methodically, trying to wrap up one area before moving to the next, and also for playing without a guide telling me which quests I should and should not play in order to complete everything the game has to offer.
Overall, in spite of the issues I may have with this game’s design at times, I am really enjoying my time in the world so far. I still hope that I will find the main story more engaging in the future and that Geralt learns what a personality is, but the side stories, lore, and other major characters making playing this game more than worth it. My question is, for those of you who have played The Witcher 3, were you hooked by now? I’m trying to keep my expectations in check, so I would love to know if I’m about to fall in love with the game because the pace picks up or if I may just not love the narrative quite as much as others. I’m going to finish the game either way at this point, but I’m just curious what I should be expecting from here on out. Let me know (without spoiling beyond where I am in the game, please) in the comments below!