Rambling Review – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

*Spoiler free review ahead.

Witcher 3

This “more than just a piece of eye candy” is Geralt of Rivia.  Swoon.  He’s from a fantasy land where once upon a time, a conjunction split the veil between worlds, allowing mystical creatures to spill into his.  In an effort to battle the “forces of evil”, the Witchers were created by terrible means, Geralt among them.

This 2015 Game of the Year winner has all the facets of well, everything, not just gaming, I’m drawn to – Medieval-like fantasy world, old world order of potential do-gooders, magic, sweeping backdrops with a rich, layered history – it was without fail that this would become my new favorite thing.

I was nearing the end of my first playthrough when for Christmas this year, The Sis bought me a series of books, and that’s when I learned a bit of the history of The Witcher.  I had no idea the game was based on novels by fantasy author Andrzej Sapkowski.  The first book, The Last Wish was published in 1993.  That’s a long time to be clueless about something I was destined to love.  There are currently eight books in the series, three games, a failed Polish movie and tv series, and a new show by Netflix was just announced.  Now that could prove interesting as everyone is on the hunt for the next Game of Thrones-like series.

I started the game completely oblivious to the storyline as I had not played the previous two.  Not the best idea when the world you’re walking into is already so established.  Maybe it was because of this, I felt a bit of disconnect initially from Geralt.  I didn’t know who he was, where he had been, or why people hated him because he was a Witcher.  His purpose seemed like a good one.

There was war brewing on all fronts and with monsters running amok, no one seemed concerned with the other impending threat, the Wild Hunt.  Frightening, almost unstoppable warriors with skeletal armor from another world, the Wild Hunt appears with a frost that dramatically affects the world around them.  And these “things” were chasing after my (Geralt’s) ward-like daughter, Ciri.Ciri

The beautiful girl with an interesting background and the voice of a Dragon Age character (Hawke from DA2) immediately became my concern (and I do mean mine).  And that became the true purpose of the game – find and protect Ciri.

I had to force myself to play the game the first few times, which did not thrill me because I had been so excited to play after watching a trailer.  This one, specifically: (*Be forewarned that this includes content not suitable for all ages.)

After those initial attempts, I decided to just follow the main storyline objective and things became more clear.  I was still a bit lost when it came to matters of politics and the hatred towards witches and non-humans, but the further I delved into this world, the easier it became to navigate, and then suddenly, I was in love.

The game is beautiful and expansive.  Cut scenes are cinematic, and there are a lot of them.  Many times I felt like I was in a movie that I was lucky enough to be able to move around in.

*Helpful hint: Unlike some games, you can not put the controller down and walk away during conversations.  Often times there are timed responses, so you don’t want to lose out on that choice.

There were a number of comments made by people in-game who thought they knew who Geralt was.  I chose to make him more kind, almost out of spite because no one was going to talk about my boy like that in front of me and get away with it.  Also, in part because I always play the “nice guy” when morality meters are involved.  Sometimes we chose to fight, but sometimes we were merciful, giving our enemies reason to pause.  The more I played, the more I liked him.  The mutagens given to him as a boy to make him a Witcher made his hair turn white and stripped him of his outward emotion, but he has a good sense of humor, is loyal, and cares deeply.

As the game progressed, I learned why people both liked and feared him.  Witchers are considered freaks themselves, unnatural.  As a hired monster slayer known as the White Wolf, not only is he a fearsome warrior with a bloody reputation, he’s also known as being quite the womanizer.  There are a few women to romance in the game, and Geralt, looking the way he does and having women throwing themselves at him took each opportunity.  Although to be honest, I’m not sure how likely this all would have been back in 2007.  Thank the advances of technology!

Geralt's Gaming Versions

Helpful tip: Romancing multiple characters can bite you in the a** if you’re not careful. 

The witch in the trailer is Yennefer, Geralt’s long time, on again-off again lover. Triss She’s powerful and self-assured with a biting wit, and it’s easy to see why she and Geralt are continually drawn back to one another.  While she aligns herself with powerful allies, like kings and emperors, the adorable and sweet Triss Merigold is helping witches escape the fires as hunters close in.

There’s history with each of these women, and more of their pasts are divulged as the game continues, making it understandable why Geralt, and I, had a hard time choosing. 😉

There’s a great deal to discuss with this game.  There are many facets and intricate details that made this game so mesmerizing and engaging, but I will draw my rambling review to a close.  Perhaps in the near future I will post a Witcher Review: Part II.

Like Dragon Age, where your character’s decisions influence the world around you, I failed on occasion to complete certain side quests in a timely fashion and that ended up shaping the world for the better or worse (Eh, it was my first playthrough after all, and it’s all a learning curve.), but because of the immersive quality, this is a game that has definite replayability.  It’s a word.

If you enjoy the fantasy trope RPG, this will, without a doubt, speak to you…as it did me.  By far, one of the best games I’ve played.  Yes, you read that correctly.  It’s up near Dragon Age.  And now that I have a few books at my disposal, let the new obsession begin.

 

5stars

So, I’m smitten.  How about you, fellow gamers?  Have you played?  Let’s discuss!

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I Finally Played DA: Inquisition DLCs

DAII am so thankful for having such generous friends, like “D”, who let me borrow his XBox One in order to complete the Dragon Age Inquisition story line.

I still have a 360, which is by no means a bad thing, except to the multi-billion dollar gaming industry that dictates my game play.  I love the Dragon Age series, for many of you, this is not new information – just type in “Dragon Age” into my search bar to see all of the devotion.  I’ve already done a number of posts on the series, and so much more…

When it was announced that the DLCs for Inquisition, the extra content that gaming companies release that sometimes add a number of extra hours to enjoy, or not depending on the series, would not be released on older consoles, like my 360, I won’t lie, I was on the verge of tears.

Deep breath.

I had invested money and lots and lots of time to play the new game and then I was told I wouldn’t get any of the extras.  Nope.  Not having it.  It was kind of a slap in the face.  If the gaming companies are moving forward with the technology that comes with the newer consoles, then why did they even bother to release the game on the older ones?  I’m not going to rant about this now, but know there is a rant a comin’.

Needless to say, the DA:I extras did not disappoint and playing on the One was superior; the graphics are amazing, the details crisp, the subtitles and codex much easier to read.  I had one concern, moving over my character from the 360 to the One.  I read a number of articles that all said the same thing, but they were all incorrect.  I tried a variety of tactics to import the data, but they all failed, so if you’re like me, behind the times, let me give you a tip I received after talking directly with EA.

*If you started your game on the 360, you need to download the free version of The Black Emporium on the 360 before you can advance.  If you have all the DLCs for the One, you will obtain The Black Emporium in the pack.  Using the character you want to continue playing with, visit the emporium and create a new save.  On the screen there will be an option for exporting via the emporium to the One.  Nowhere did I ever find this information; most sites suggested using the cloud which, according to EA and my own findings, is incorrect.

You do need to have XBox Live in order to save this information to your account which is how the One will find it when you load it.  Now, on the One, under Extras there is the “Import from 360” option.  Character info will pop-up to ensure it’s the correct import and…Voila!  I wasted hours trying everything else.  Footnote, your character won’t import exactly, although it is pretty close, so I had to make a few changes which is why it’s good you start in the Black Emporium.

DAI JoHThe first DLC is Jaws of Hakkon, a new region to explore in the Frostback Basin.  There are a number of missions to complete while you search for the remains of the last Inquisitor, who is believed to have died in the area hundreds of years ago.  You will learn a great deal of history during this time with tales of the Avvars, the creation of the Seekers, and the previous Inquisitor and his political ties, lineage, and reasons for being in such a remote location.  The map is a bit confusing, as it is a place of peaks and valleys, so travelling from one location to another sometimes takes a little effort finding that one path.

With the new DLCs, you obtain new weapons and armor, but if you play these after the initial game, the armor ratings will be much lower than anything you currently have equipped, so use the schematics to build yourself something new, although most items remained of a lesser value than my current stock.  My favorites were both of the Qunari armors; they show a little skin and really are nice looking on your female Inquisitor in particular, and Dorian, because everything looks good on Dorian.

There are a lot of things to fight, so I think I ranked up twice before leaving the area (one must have been a carry over from Descent which I played first, because so much fighting), and there are loads of crafting items to utilize.  There are also more ocularum shards to find that will open a specific door in the area, useful before the boss fight.  Lastly, instead of runes, there are now sigils that have both positive and negative effects.  I didn’t use any, not yet anyway.

DAI DescentDLC number two is The Descent which takes place in the Deep Roads.  If you’ve played the previous two games, you’re probably like me and sort of huff at the thought of traipsing through the Deep Roads yet again, just as the Wardens must.  Wink wink.  Those blasted darkspawn!  And there are just. so. many and it is difficult.  Even at my high rank, I had to drop down from hard to normal in some areas because the enemies were just relentless and never ending.  I’m having nightmarish flashbacks just typing that.

I played Descent first, I’m not sure why, but if you’re early on in the game play, I would suggest visiting this area sooner than later because there is a ton of money to be made.  I think I ended up with 100,000 gold in addition to some great new armor and weapons.  You do have to be in Skyhold to access this mission from the war table, so you have a little time to rank up beforehand.

The Descent is a long, winding mission to solve the mystery of these random earthquakes that have started affecting the area.  This is of great importance because the dwarves mine lyrium, the whole of their economy, which both mages and Templars rely on.  You end up travelling further than anyone has before, and the landscape is quite beautiful and a little reminiscent of Blackreach in Skyrim.

Trespasser

The final DLC is Trespasser.  This is the one I couldn’t wait to get to – the end.  You cannot go back to anything unfinished once you begin, and you will receive a little pop-up at the war table with this warning.  The story takes place two years after you have defeated Corypheus, having been summoned by the council to the Winter Palace to defend whether there is still a need for the Inquisition.  After the events, you will have the opportunity to make this decision.

All of your friends have returned and you can interact with each, so make sure you talk to them multiple times to instigate cut scenes.  I played first as my female mage who romanced Cullen.  Great cut scene, fyi.  There is also a great scene with Dorian, as well as a couple of fun things with Vivienne and Josie.  There are dog treats to find which you will give to the mabari Cullen has taken a liking to that add perks such as cunning and magic, etc. but as this is the last DLC, I was confused as to why this was necessary.  Your rank will be high, your armor and weapons will be top notch, and you will have so many abilities you won’t know which ones to choose from most of the time.  This is one thing I wish they would have included from the previous two games, the ability to open the wheel of choices for all those abilities you have acquired so you can actually use everything in your arsenal.

This DLC is a great story for a number of reasons, one of them being that it continues to tie together other topics from the previous games.  The eluvians, the elven mirrors that have played a role in each game, are your means of travel in Trespasser while you try to stop a pretty big threat.  I won’t give anything away, but will only say that this paves the way for a great Dragon Age 4, which is years away, if at all, since it hasn’t been announced yet, and the creator of the series left Bioware a little while ago. 😦  So, wait, there’s a job opening?!  Bioware, please announce at least the promise of a new game…there are still so many story lines that require closure!

I freely admit it that I will play these DLCs at least two more times with my other characters I’ve created so I can see the endings for each, or at least until my friend asks for his XBox back.  This is the same friend I was able to encourage to play the game in the first place because of my (great) interest in the series.  For gamers who like RPGs, start at the beginning with Dragon Age Origins, forgive Bioware for Dragon Age II, but still enjoy it, and then find your way to Inquisition where all these stories converge.  You won’t be disappointed.

Game on!