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Clearing the Backlog – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

When you’re unable to buy every game under the sun that’s coming out, it’s kind of refreshing to go back to those that sit uncompleted, and for me there are more uncompleted games than I’d like to admit. With The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt I wonder why it has taken me so long to complete it because coming back, I had – and will continue to have – an absolute blast.

Sometimes it’s nice to play a game once the dust and the hype has settled. Said hype has recently rekindled for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt because of the release of its expansion, Blood and Wine, which I admit did play a part in me going back to the game – marketing successful! At this point, I’ve put about 85 hours into The Witcher 3 – and 80 of those hours was just completing the main story. 80 hours! Talk about value for money. I did spend a lot of time doing side stuff, but The Witcher 3 wants you to do that. I kept worrying I would miss something that would cause the story to take a turn that would disappoint me.

Originally, I went back to The Witcher 3 to keep me occupied leading up to the release of Overwatch, but I became besotted with it. Its world became one I was invested in, intrigued by, and completely engrossed with. I’d been toying with the idea for a series of me going back to games in some way. Then I thought why not write about me going back to The Witcher 3, why I went back, and why I stopped playing it? Not only will it give me an excuse to play it, it could be a series that gets me finishing games I’ve been wanting to. And boy, this is a great game to start with.

Why did I stop playing The Witcher 3 in the first place? “Do you know where Ciri is?” “No, but I know two people who might.”“Someone told me you know where Ciri is.” “No, but I know two people who know where she is”. The patience snapped after I spent what felt like eight hours looking for a guy named Dandelion. Everyone said Dandelion knew where Ciri was, and, you guessed it, he had no idea. He and the rest tell tales about when they saw her but then, “No idea where she is now”. This time, I did more side missions as I went along; this way when I did story quests that staleness wasn’t so prevalent. I also started collecting diagrams and focused more on crafting potions, bombs, and oils. Eventually, those sections you play as Ciri added enough intrigue to her character I had become genuinely concerned for her well being.

Witcher 3 3-min

This was almost the perfect time to come back, given all the changes made to UI and inventory management alongside Blood and Wine. The changes have made navigating gear, finding potions, and crafting so much easier to do. On top of that, there are changes to the map that make it easier to mark places of interest for later visits; I’ve been using it to mark all the quest locations of Witcher gear that are hidden around the world. Managing inventory and making potions was a pain pre-Blood and Wine; now it is so much easier. If your biggest problem with The Witcher 3 was the inventory and UI then fear no more!

I’ve only recently taken a interest in Gwent which is unfortunate because, on completion of the story, a lot of people are… indisposed. Since I didn’t play Gwent while levelling I’m now at a loss of where to get some cards and who to play a game with, though it allows me to spend more time in Velen. I’m still using the faction you start off with as I haven’t really got a good enough deck anywhere else, but I’m at a point where I’m winning convincingly against those I’m playing against. I’ve done the tournament at the Passiflora in Novigrad and totally didn’t have to save scum to beat the last guy. This tournament went on to show how much The Witcher 3 can surprise you by adding more depth to what first seems a trivial quest.

I made a change to the way I played as well when going back to The Witcher 3. Whereas before I was playing on PC with a controller, I switched to mouse and keyboard after seeing how much easier it was to use items and navigate menus. Even though it took me a few hours to familiarise myself to the controls it was a revelation. Coming back, I didn’t really want to play it as relaxed as I did before and wanted to give it a good run, and did so switching to mouse and keyboard. Paired with the changes to UI, menus and inventory management, navigating menus was 100 times easier as I could access crafting or alchemy with one button press. I also upped the difficulty making combat more tense (and therefore more fun).

The story did have problems, ergo validating the worries I had previously. I got the ending I wanted minus the outcome for Geralt’s sex life – I somehow failed the quest in which Yennefer and I would confess our love… or something. As much as I don’t like Yennefer, I wanted Geralt to stay faithful to her. #TeamTriss? I don’t like multiple endings like The Witcher 3‘s; I want a certain ending and hate when what appears to be innocent dialogue can actually create a huge shift in the story and its overall outcome. I had to research what I needed to do to get an ending I would be happy with. With Yennefer, the quest I failed 40 hours of playtime ago affected the ending in a way I didn’t want. When researching, I saw big decisions I had done already and was lucky enough to have chosen the right option.

Witcher 3 1-min

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Towards the end, The Witcher 3‘s story gets lost in itself, yet it’s at that point the game becomes focused on it. Characters started making strange decisions – I mean Dijkstra, what the hell? The game is great at having decisions affect the world around you, but one of the biggest decisions of the game that should change the whole outlook of Novigrad appears to do very little. However, there’s one particular section that makes a Ciri-based Witcher game seem really appealing with so many possibilities.

Going back to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt proved an extremely good idea for me. I’m so happy that I finished it. I see it as one of the best RPGs – if not the best RPG – out there now. Maybe this “clearing the backlog” series wasn’t a bad idea after all. It got to a point where I was playing The Witcher 3 all day and enjoying every minute of it; well, except for the annoying bug where you can’t attack. I now can’t wait to play the expansions so I can put another 40 hours into the game. I look forward to seeing where the series goes now that Geralt’s story is over. The number of hours to complete these games is why most are on the backlog, but if the rest can grip me in a way The Witcher 3 did, that backlog will wither very quickly.

I wonder what game I should go back to and try to complete now.

You can go all the way back and read our review of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt here.
For Jack, it all started with the PS1. After years spent playing against AI, video games moved online, so Jack did too. As the industry grew, he followed, treating himself to a diverse array of genres. Now enjoying well-written RPGs the most, he looks for stories he can engross himself in. Unfortunately, they are hard to find in video games. Eventually his love/hate relationship with gaming drew him to write about the industry he is passionate about. When he's not gaming, you'll most likely find Jack watching films.