Arguably one of the most engaging aspects for we mature gamers where The Witcher is concerned, is in its dark and adult reimaginings of the fairy tales we grew up with. In The Witcher 3’s final expansion, Blood and Wine, Geralt finds himself contracted to help old acquaintances in the land of Toussaint – CD Projekt RED’s version of knights and chivalry in a not-so Dark Ages setting.
In fact, Toussaint is the opposite to where you play the bulk of the vanilla game – Velen, with a brightly coloured and beautiful landscape surrounded by green hillsides and quaint villages nestled around fantastical castles. Noble people walk about and the manner in which the denizens speak is… tongue-tying to mere riff-raff like Geralt. However, underneath every clean exterior lies the potential for a dirty interior, and our ashen-haired hero wouldn’t have been asked to come, had his services not been needed.
Without giving too much away for fear of early quest spoilers, some Witchering is needed doing, which means we get to get our fantasy noire on and start tracking monsters in a new and different world to anything we’ve played in The Witcher 3 thus far.
There are some key differentials beyond combat and Witcher contracts in Blood and Wine, and all for the better based on my short three-hours with the game’s intro. Like Hearts of Stone, you activate the new content via a notification board in the vanilla game, however, here you’ll load an entirely new playspace once you choose to travel to Toussaint. Obviously you can travel back to the base game at any point you like, but with the new NG+ 100 level cap, along with -- *deep breath* -- more than 90 new quests, more than 40 points of interest, over 30 new weapons, more than 20 new monsters and 100 individual pieces of armour which includes brand new Witcher sets, why would you. So -- *exhale* -- you’re going to be busy in Toussaint. Oh, wait, there’s also a new research quest system tied to the new Witcher armour and you’re also going to be able to dye each individual piece of armour through another new customisation option.
What’s the point you ask? Well, you can now also display your armour sets – the ones you’re not using – outside of your inventory. How, you ask? Well, you sort of get your own home.
Actually, it’s an estate. An estate with a vineyard, and a stable and a cellar and several rooms and… well, it’s quite grand. Don’t be fooled though, this isn’t like house building in Skyrim or Fallout, the house is a part of the Toussaint architecture, and you’re gifted the deed for doing, well, a good deed. Moreover, it is upgradeable, and components of it do aid you in your preparations, such as being able to create an herb garden (so you can grow alchemy ingredients), while upgrading the stable can help buff Roach’s stamina. You also can’t just upgrade the thing in one fell swoop. Certain upgrade requests take in-game time to complete, and they’ll cost you, giving the game’s economy another feather in its cap, making money important again for those of us who think we have everything
. I was also told that once you get the place up to snuff, you might even be visited by characters from your previous outing, giving the estate a social purpose beyond everything else.
You’ll also be able to undergo additional mutations via research with a certain Professor Moreau – a mysterious character you learn about early in your Toussaint jaunt thanks to a letter from Yen. It’s a sub-quest line in line
with the Witcher armour quests from the vanilla game and promise to add to the depth of not only your adventure in this new land, but to obviously give you even more powerful and helpful mutations. There are 12 “game-changing” mutations available to discover, apparently (one apparently “explodes” enemies when you land a critical hit).
There's also a new master craftsman, leaving the armour and weapon side of things new and fresh. You can also dye your individual armour pieces with various dyes bought at the new dye merchant, or by crafting them yourself. Other dyes are dropped as loot from Toussaint’s manifest of new and unique monsters and enemies, and based on my short time with the game, these new monsters are present from the outset of your experience.
The bulk of the main quest line also takes place during a tournament at the main kingdom of Beauclair. It’s a classic knightly festival which includes numerous activities Geralt can partake in, or you can also just sit back and play Gwent with an all-new Skellige deck with plenty of new players to take on throughout the land of Toussaint.
Animations have also been tidied up, and the new content looks gorgeous. Apparently there are some 14000 lines of dialogue here, compared with the 6000 found in Hearts of Stone, which should give you an indication of the size of the world here given how dialogue-heavy Hearts and Stone was. The menu system has also been streamlined and appears easier to navigate with things like being able to preview armour instead of having to equip it and jump out to look at how Geralt is styling in your new gear.
Three hours with the game really wasn’t enough, and while the main quest is roughly 30-hours of gameplay, the likelihood of being able to cap into the hundreds doesn’t seem that far-fetched. Moreover, with players being able to take anything they’ve grabbed in either of the main expansions into NG+, Geralt’s journey could really just be beginning. We had a chance to chat with CD Projekt RED on a number of topics, but chief among them was on whether or not this really
was the end of The Witcher 3 given the success of the game.
“I think it’s mixed between people,” says senior animator Jamie Berry when we ask what the feeling is among the team now that Geralt’s journey is coming to an end. “There are different types at [the studio] you have the ones who are “Okay, Cyberpunk! Let’s go!”, and then you’ve got the other people who are, like, “people really love Witcher… maybe we should do more?”. For me personally I really love the Witcher games, I love the fantasy aesthetic, so I would really love to see more but as far as I know [Blood and Wine] is it.”
On the topic of Cyberpunk we also asked him if Cyri’s mention of a futuristic world while talking to Geralt about her teleportation was an Easter Egg the team planted for the die-hards to expect to see her make cameo in the studio’s next venture.
“I really can’t see it happening,” he bluntly responds. “I can’t see it happening. They might put some subtle thing in there, but I don’t think it will be part of the story at all.”
The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine releases on all three platforms on May 31.
Posted 02:41pm 11/5/16
Posted 07:05pm 11/5/16
$26 bit high thought. Thought maybe $15
Posted 07:22pm 11/5/16
Posted 07:58pm 11/5/16
Posted 12:32am 13/5/16
$10 for two decks is really good tbh
Posted 05:56pm 13/5/16
actually good point.