Note: This update will involve spoilers for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt through the Novigrad portion of the story. Read at your own risk!
It took me many hours, but I have finally rescued Dandelion and gone on my way towards Skellige. Well, I haven’t actually boarded the ship yet, as I wanted to make sure that I wrote about my thoughts so far, having done the majority of the content in Velen and Novigrad. There are still some side quests and question marks that I wish to clear up in the future, but I’m eager to write more about my experiences to date. For more context about my impressions of The Witcher 3, check out my last update that I wrote after finishing the Velen portion of the main quest.
First of all, I want to address my evolving opinion of Geralt. While I still think his line delivery is duller than watching paint dry most of the time, he is an interesting character to view the world through. He’s jaded and struggles in his relationships with others because of all that he has gone through, but there is some emotion there, behind the gruff exterior. A fantastic example of this is when Geralt and Zoltan ask Dudu to show them what Ciri looks like as an adult. The look on his face and the way he says, “Bad idea,” shows how much pain he is in, knowing that she may be in danger and being completely unable to help her at the moment.
Don’t get me wrong, however, because as much as I may have come to an understanding with Geralt, I would still rather play as just about any other main character in The Witcher‘s universe. In particular, I’m finding that I love the little snippets of action where I get to play as Ciri. She feels a lot like a slightly more emotive Geralt and I love her for it. Not to mention, actually being in on the action is significantly more interesting than following after her trail as it’s going nearly cold. If Geralt showed emotion a little more often and his moments of humanity weren’t so few and far between, he’d be more interesting. Even his interaction with Triss as she was leaving, which I thought would be an emotional moment, really wasn’t particularly engaging to watch.
On that note, I guess I should give a romance update, as the Triss versus Yennifer debate seems to be one of the most divisive decisions in any video game that I have ever played. While I continue to state that Triss feels like the romance choice I would prefer, as she is my favorite character so far, I have decided to skip over her romance and instead go with Yennifer. At the end of the day, I want to make the choice that will give me the most story context, and Yennifer feels like she is going to turn out to be more plot-relevant than Triss. If I ever replay the game, I will always have the chance to pick Triss and see which overall arc I prefer.
Last time, I didn’t really address the gameplay because it’s not really a motivating factor for why I picked up The Witcher 3. From the very beginning, I realized that the combat isn’t going to be for me, but that’s not the game’s fault. I don’t enjoy playing RPGs as any class other than a mage. Since Geralt could, at best, be considered a spellsword warrior, the battles are just an obstacle I have to pass in order to enjoy the next plot point. Therefore, I decided early on to play on easy so I can breeze through the battles and focus on unraveling the plot and taking in the world at my own pace. Battles last about an igni spell’s length and then I can go on my merry way.
I do have one small gripe with the combat system. Geralt can’t jump in combat, so I’ve landed myself in a situation more than once where I’m stuck in a valley and can’t get up to the enemy, but the enemy can’t come down, either. Crossbows and signs can’t hit the enemy, so I have no choice but to load up my last save. Given that the quicksave button is my friend, as I have been burned far too many times by open world games in the past, I don’t lose too much progress when this occurs, so it’s really no more than a mild annoyance. If this is really my only complaint about the gameplay so far, I’d call The Witcher 3 a success on that front.
Now, for the moment everyone has been waiting for: What do I think of the main quest? Well, after another thirty or so hours in, I can honestly say…it’s okay. I had issues with the Novigrad portion of the questline, but for different reasons than the Velen plot. In Velen, I was just irritated that I jumped through a bunch of hoops for no actual story progress to be made. In Novigrad, I did conclude that portion of the plotline feeling like I had made an actual difference, but I think it may also win an award for the most drawn-out set of main quests that I have ever seen in a video game. Did I really need to go to half a dozen different women in order to find Dandelion’s whereabouts or check about a million different locations in order to find a mob boss who may or may not have seen Ciri? Every quest in Novigrad dragged on forever and the only one I actually got much enjoyment from was seeing Geralt make his stage debut as an actor.
Not all of my Witcher 3 opinions are doom and gloom, however, as the side quests are continuing to prove intriguing. In particular, I feel like doing favors for major characters is beginning to feel like chess pieces falling into place. For example, I started an assassination plot for a king and I assume my part in that has not come to a close. I also found Philippa Eilhart’s hiding spot and find it hard to believe that this isn’t going to have some relevance later on in the story. Triss freeing the mages was also a fun quest and I’m curious to see if my decision regarding the fate of the two mages I didn’t end up rescuing comes into play later. All in all, I agree with the general assessment that this game shines most in its side quest, but what I don’t understand is why. If the side quests are so well-written and interesting, leading to moral dilemmas and real consequences, then why can’t the main story be more interesting?
Overall, I’m thrilled to be heading to Skellige. I have managed to hold off of going there so far because it’s actually kind of fun to get this mental image of what the area must look like based upon what people say about it. In my imagination, it sounds like a rough and swampy area controlled by thugs and possibly pirates, based on how the Skelligans tend to dress. I’m quite curious to see how my version of what this area looks like matches up to reality. Based upon the main quest list, there seems like there will be enough to do in Skellige that I will write another update post upon concluding my adventures there.
What did you think of The Witcher 3 at this point in the game? Please don’t spoil anything beyond where I currently am!
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