So, a but of background information. I'm what you could call a casual gamer, and I love RPGs I also lurk here quite a lot, especially over the last few months. If you were to ask me what my favorite RPGs were, I'd have said Dragon Age, Mass Effect and the ilk. I've known about the Witcher then. I picked up a free copy they offered for a while on GoG ages ago, then forgot about it being a Steam user predominantly.
One day I decided to get on GoG to play Battle Realms, and saw that a game called Gwent was free. A bit of googling told me how a minigame in TW3 had become huge. This got me kinda curious about the series, and I started to go down the rabbit hole, to the point of letting TW1 install overnight on my piss poor connection and started playing the next day.
To be very frank, I didn't like the opening hours much but I powered through until the story became more interesting. The concept of a monster hunter for hire appealed to me, and I took each monster as it came. I'm still not a fan of TW1 gameplay nor of its controls, but the story more than made up for these issues. The lore and the world were really good and for a game that old it stood up well. I purchased TW2 and TW3 GOTY on steam when they came on sale, thinking I'd continue the series seeing how it panned out with TW1. If not, it's not as if all the games I have in my library have been played through anyway.
It took me around a month and half to play through, after which I started on Witcher 2. The changes, you could say were good and bad. I liked the more appealing visuals but was not a fan of the definite step back from the free roam feel of the game. However, the story was still interesting when regicide was thrown into the mix, and I gave it a go. And although it was a short game it still took me a month to play through with college and whatnot. One major issue was the absolute lack of monsters in TW2. There were so few, and it was more of a political game rather than a monster hunting one at times.
Then came the behemoth. TW3. By this time I'd seen the threads on Gamingcirclejerk making fun of TW3 for the praise it gets, and I was determined not to let this cloud my judgment either way. I was prepared to be unimpressed, and damn was I wrong. This game blew me away. I started in March and finished yesterday, in meager playtime installments, and I'm still feeling as if I should start it up again and play through the story once more.
Every sidequest was as meticulously handcrafted as the main, sometimes more so such as the quest of the Baron. Gwent was amazing, unlike the poker of TW2, which I never got the hang of in the dice area. I got some mods installed, mainly quality of life and time saving ones such as inventory enlargement, all quests on map, teleport from anywhere, no durability and somesuch. I know they take away from the originality but I don't have the time to keep returning to town, and I was sure if that was the case I might take an entire year to play. I thought White Orchard was big and then I hit the Velen/Novigrad complex and quit the game for a while for I wasn't sure I had the time or patience.
Novigrad actually feels like a big city. It has its' own lore, own times and it is as a gargantuan beast of its own. Velen was the classic "outskirts of a big city, but is it's own story and lore" area. And the number of sidequests and activities was amazing. I got killed a lot of times, had my map full of red skulls marking monsters who could sneeze at me and kill me. I still remember encountering a leshen as a level 8, and running for my life with it following me and sending roots after me.
I got so close to the character, it hurt when Vesemir died. And although I'd not met Ciri I could feel Geralt's pain as a parent, his amazing loyalty and love towards her, and his meticulousness, ruthlessness and determination whenever he dealt with anything concerning Ciri. You could feel the protectiveness ooze, how he really became the White Wolf. The Butcher of Blaviken if he felt anyone risked so much as a hair on her. And honestly, going into that hut, watching him hug her lifeless body made me teary eyed. And to have her hug him back was the vindication I needed for every throat I'd slit to get there.
My favorite character, however, wasn't Geralt or Ciri. It was Gaunter O Dimm. He brings in an element of mystique and primal terror, with his knowledge, actions and being sort of everywhere. I saw a video earlier linked form Reddit, and I was creeped at how many times he'd been around Geralt and I'd not even noticed.
I don't know why I'm rambling on. But I just wanted to let it out of my heart. This game is among the best I've ever played, and I will play it again when I'm a bit more free. And I really believe any RPG I play from now will have a very high bar of satisfaction, to the point where I fear TW3 might have ruined them for me forever. I really don't care for if I'd missed out on this game it wouldn't have been worth it.
Thank you for this amazing journey, CDPR. This might be overboard for a videogame, but this was an amazing journey. Wishing for more of the similar, I'll end it here. Thank you. 🙂
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