Meta-review: The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

The-Witcher-3When the next generation was announced, and with it an onslaught of open world games, few felt as anticipated as the third and possibly final game within The Witcher franchise. CD Projekt Red had blown away everyone’s expectations with their last outing, the beautiful and complex Assassins of Kings, and opening up the series to new and more powerful hardware seemed a thrilling proposition. Red’s penchant for dramatic, engaging story content, embroiled in moral nuance could only be greater served by more photo-realistic niceties. Well, the world will get to see this for themselves as of next Tuesday, but for those lucky enough to have already played it, what do they have to say? To generalize, the outlook on Witcher 3 is exceptional. Many reviewers are claiming the game to be a masterpiece of the RPG genre. I can’t wait to try it myself, but until then, here are what the reviewers have to say:

Witcher3The Telegraph: I have never felt like I was wandering a more compelling world, or a more convincingly created one, except perhaps the broad expanse of Red Dead Redemption’s West. Fittingly, it feels as though that’s where CDProjekt RED have taken the most inspiration from, in terms of design, littering their world not with dungeons but with events, small vignettes for you to engage with, or not, depending on your inclination. None of this is to mention the depth of the story telling, the beautiful moral ambiguity of the choices you’re faced with again and again, or the wonderful lack of trying to frame Geralt as anything other than the protagonist of his story. There is no saving the world, here, no great evil force pervading the landscape, or a doomsday clock ticking down to inevitable destruction, with only you to stand in its way. The story of Wild Hunt is a personal one, set in a huge and unrelentingly beautiful world. And moving through it in that way makes you feel like a part of it, rather than an honoured guest, all eyes swung expectantly towards you. (5/5)

Game Spot: These distractions stand out in part because The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is otherwise incredible and sumptuous; the little quirks are pronounced when they are surrounded by stellar details. And make no mistake: this is one of the best role-playing games ever crafted, a titan among giants and the standard-setter for all such games going forward. Where the Witcher 2 sputtered to a halt, The Witcher 3 is always in a crescendo, crafting battle scenarios that constantly one-up the last, until you reach the explosive finale and recover in the glow of the game’s quiet denouement. But while the grand clashes are captivating, it is the moments between conflicts, when you drink with the local clans and bask in a trobairitz’s song, that are truly inspiring. (10/10)

Game Informer: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt encompasses what I hope is the future of RPGs. It stands out for its wonderful writing, variety of quests and things to do in the world, and how your choices have impact in interesting ways. Usually something is sacrificed when creating a world this ambitious, but everything felt right on cue. I still think about some of my choices and how intriguing they turned out – for better or worse. (9.75/10)

IGN: Though the straightforward and fetch-quest-heavy main story overstays its welcome, the option of joyfully adventuring through a rich, expansive open world was always there for me when I’d start to burn out. Even if the plot isn’t terribly interesting, the many characters who play a part in it are, and along with the excellent combat and RPG gameplay, they elevate The Witcher 3 to a plane few other RPGs inhabit. (9.3/10)

DestructoidThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a huge step up from its predecessor, mostly because it manages to tell a more compelling and personal tale. At the same time, that intimate feel is juxtaposed against a gigantic, sprawling open-world adventure that may hit some snags along the way but still comes out on top. (8/10)

Follow Tom on Twitter @thomaskagar

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