Silver for Monsters, Steel for Humans

Gabriel Silvas, Columnist

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War is ravaging the Northern Realms. Riding through the conflict is a beautiful raven-haired sorceress, galloping at full speed as the armies of the North and Nilfgaard clash. She does not stop for anyone and destroys entire squads of soldiers with potent magic if they get in her way. Behind her, separated by only a day or so, are two witchers from the School of the Wolf. She sent them a letter, detailing that they had to meet somewhere and discuss an important matter, but when they reached the meeting place, the sorceress was nowhere to be found. It is clear that she is running from something, but from what, they do not know. All they can do is follow her, riding through blasted landscapes, seas of dead soldiers, a suffering populace, and droves of roaming monsters. Just another day on the Path.

Released in May of 2015 to universal acclaim, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt is the third and final game of The Witcher trilogy by Polish developer CD Projekt Red. Continuing the adventures of Geralt of Rivia, the game, in contrast to the previous two games’ method of having one area open to the player at a time, adopts an open world concept, giving the player complete freedom to explore the lands of Velen, Novigrad, and Skellige. The game acts as the conclusion of Geralt’s story, bringing in characters not only from the original books, but from the previous game, wrapping up many of the plot threads from the series and bringing a definite end to the tale of the White Wolf.

Once more, the player assumes the role of the ever-dour and serious Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher from the School of the Wolf. Having regained his memories after the events of the first two games, the choices the player makes are all in-character for him. He would prefer to stay out of the war Nilfgaard is waging, but when someone very important to him reappears after years of silence, his only goal is to find them and bring them home safely. Along the way, he reunites with some old friends such as his fellow witchers Vesemir, Lambert, and Eskel, the dwarf Zoltan, and his bardic best friend, Julian Alfred Pankratz, the Viscount de Lettenhove, or Dandelion as everyone else calls him, and makes some new allies. The sorceress he’s tracking is the love of his life, Yennefer of Vengerberg, a massively powerful magic user who is (in)famous for having a truly legendary series of breakups and makeups with Geralt. A very driven and strong woman, she can seem very cold to most, only showing a soft and caring heart for the girl she considers her daughter. Said daughter is also the adoptive daughter of Geralt, the important person he’s looking for, and the single most powerful THING in the entire multiverse. Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon, the Child of Destiny, has remerged after quite a number of years and is being sought by multiple parties. Geralt and his allies want to find Ciri to bring her back home, but others, namely her father and the main antagonist, want her for others reasons.

It is no surprise that in such a harsh world, Geralt comes across some nasty groups and individuals that will hinder his progress. Ciri’s father and the emperor of Nilfgaard, Emhyr var Emreis, wants his daughter returned to him, though it is not for anything such as fatherly love, but of the cold purpose of ensuring that he has an heir. While Emhyr’s armies are the reason for the current state of the region, the horde of the Wild Hunt are ceaselessly searching for Ciri, killing and torturing anyone who might know and taking slaves. Their leader, Eredin Bréacc Glas, has clashed with Geralt before and wishes to harness Ciri’s Elder Blood to conquer the multiverse. In order to find her, he made a deal with the Ladies of the Wood, the Crones of Crookback Bog and grotesque hags that are worshiped by the populace of Velen in fear of their power. However, even the might of Eredin and his Wild Hunt pale in comparison to the White Frost. Believed to be the end of all things, this phenomenon freezes entire worlds and nothing can stop it. The Wild Hunt weaponizes it to freeze their prey, but even they are running from it and are trying to find a way to stop the White Frost.

Initially starting off in the small tutorial area of White Orchard, the player learns the main mechanics of the game. They learn about making potions and other alchemical items, repairing and making armor, and have a number of side quests that can be taken before advancing the main story. Combat itself involves Geralt dueling any enemies that are facing him, utilizing his different equipment, potions, oils, and Witcher Signs to defeat them. If the enemy has a red health bar, which is mostly humanoid foes, Steel weapons are the preferred method of dealing damage, whereas if the enemy has a silver health bar, which indicates their status as a “monster”, Silver weapons do more damage to them. With numerous different areas to explore (Velen, Novigrad, Skellige, Kaer Morhen, and Toussaint), there is plenty to explore and fight in this world. Of course, there’s always the VERY addictive card game known as “Gwent” to lose hours into.

The game has 16 pieces of DLC that add in additional armor, weapons, equipment, and the feature of New Game Plus to the game, but the main “pieces” are the two expansions. The first, Hearts of Stone, has Geralt meet the ruthless but charismatic (and immortal) bandit Olgierd von Everec and has to grant his three impossible wishes. In exchange for saving Geralt, Gaunter O’Dimm, a curious vagrant that Geralt met at the beginning of the game that provided him information on Yennifer and promised that they would meet again, returns and brands Geralt to work for him so that Olgierd can finally pay up his debt. One of Geralt’s old paramours, Shani, also returns as the two are briefly reunited in the DLC. The second, Blood and Wine, serves as the last adventure of Geralt of Rivia as he returns to the peaceful and colorful duchy of Toussaint. Tasked by Duchess Anna Henrietta to stop a monster that has been hunting down knights, Geralt is reunited with his old vampiric friend, Emiel Regis Rohellec Terzieff-Godefroy, as the two try to end the rampage of a very powerful vampire and uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the kingdom.

This game is, hands down, one of the best RPGs to come out in recent years. CDPR has intense love for this series and it shows. The story is wonderfully executed, the characters are unforgettable, the voice acting is superb, and the whole package is wrapped up in a gorgeous world with hours and hours of content to explore. With a Game of the Year addition coming out soon that has both expansions on top of all of the free DLC available, this is a must have for not only fans of the series and RPG lovers, but gamers in general.

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