The Witcher

Is this game hard or am I stupid?

TheWitcher8 - Is this game hard or am I stupid?
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Let me start by saying that I'm no stranger to RPGs (I have over 400 hours on Fallout 4 and Skyrim each) and difficult combat is by no means a deal breaker (over 30 hours on each Dark Souls game and I still haven't given up), but what the fuck is up with the Witcher 3?

Right now I'm playing on what I would assume to be normal difficulty (sword and story I think it's called?). Every wolf and drowner encounter is a good rewarding fight that rewards tactics, positioning, and taking advantage of weaknesses (which I love by the way), but the actual hunts? I'm looking at 20+ reloads every time. So far I've managed to finish the intro griffin hunt (only had like 3 reloads on that one), that horrible baby mutant thing, the werewolf who killed his wife, the "screamer" (I think it was a cockatrice), and Jenny O The Woods. The werewolf in particular was a nightmare. The only way I managed to kill it was to keep the DOT from the fire rune on him at all times just to keep his regen from working, dodge every single attack so that I would be able to reapply the fire in time, and poke him 500,000 times in the ass. All without making a single mistake or I would get my ass handed to me and I would have to start over. Oh and did I mention I didn't get the journal entry for werewolves so I had no idea what it was vulnerable to?

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Jenny was my breaking point. I did all the prep work in the world for this quest. I made sure to get the anti-wrath oil, sharpen my sword, repair all my equipment, bring a ton of food, refill all my potions, and allocate my very limited perk points to give me my best shot. Even with all that, the fight would last long enough that most of my gear would be worn down to nothing by the time I died. Finally I gave up and set it to story mode only to clobber her in less than 2 minutes.

Either I'm doing something horribly wrong or the game balance is nonexistent. The main problem I'm having is the rewards. Basically, there aren't any. I'll be the first to admit that I'm swinging way above my weight-class. Almost every quest I'm doing is 5 or more levels above me, but even at that the best I can get out of that is 300 gold (which mostly goes back into food and repairs) and about the same in XP. I'm also not getting any gear. I managed to get a good magic Iron Sword off a bandit that just randomly had something awesome, but I'm still using the starter silver sword.

Sorry about the rant, but I'm really frustrated. I want to enjoy this game with some level of challenge, but I'm really stuck. Sure, I could drop down to story mode, but I'm not going to actually learn the mechanics, or I could stay where I am and never see any content because I can't kill anything tough.

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