Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
I know it’s been a couple of months since Geralt returned in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but in my defense, there’s a lot to do this time around. Between tracking down Ciri, navigating a perilous love triangle, and skipping through the fields while collecting every herb and monster-based alchemical ingredient with dual swords in hand, CD Projekt Red‘s latest title makes for a strong finale for Geralt’s trilogy. It even won The Game Awards‘ coveted “Game of the Year” Award this year as well as “Best Role Playing Game.” By now though, you’ve probably played it and already know what I’m talking about. Or, you’ve been cautious and haven’t found enough justification to buy a copy yourself. Or maybe you just don’t have a good taste in games. I’ll assume you’re probably in the second category.
Upon first glance, The Witcher 3 is obviously a visually stunning game. From the wisps of smoke drifting from smoldering battlefields to soft rays of sunlight that outline the silhouettes of towering trees, even down to the finest details of Geralt’s subtle–yet substantial–beard growth, not one pixel is out of place. And if these examples are too peaceful for your liking, rest assured that the graphics engine has been put to good use rendering Geralt’s expert swordsmanship, dispatching drowners and hacking hapless highwaymen in half diagonally (…you thought I was going to say horizontally didn’t you?).
“You can become powerful, but not omnipotent, and there’s something a little more satisfying about that.”
Despite the countless lives of unwanted pests, monsters, and ne’er-do-wells you’ll undoubtedly snuff out, the world around you is vibrant and alive, ever-reacting to many of the decisions you make during your quests. Unforgiving and rife with characters who often hide their true intent, The Witcher 3 is a game that makes you feel the weight of every action. Compared to Fallout 4, for example, where you can be the hero of numerous (albeit conflicting) factions who give you an odd amount of trust with trade secrets and special equipment for some random drifter, The Witcher 3 makes the player choose between two opposing groups, shutting you off from the one you snubbed until the next playthrough.
While this happens to a lesser extent in Fallout 4 near the end of the game, this comparison illustrates the power of what designers can do with a “static protagonist” such as Geralt, as opposed to a “dynamic protagonist” such as the Lone Survivor; where one already has established relationships and a role within the universe, the other is sort of a template with a much looser definition, allowing the end user to fill in the gaps.
Simply put: much like Geralt, you’ll be stuck trying to make decisions with consequences, intentional and otherwise. You can become powerful, but not omnipotent, and there’s something a little more satisfying about that.
Most of this satisfaction, however, is achieved through The Witcher 3‘s superb storytelling, interweaving fragments of Germanic and Slavic folklore and putting them at the forefront of the player’s mind, whether it’s through the game’s extensive bestiary or reflected through the clothing and architecture in the hamlets and cities you find yourself in.
To be honest, I wasn’t too excited about the original title and only until The Witcher 2 did I start to warm up to the series. Now, I happily say that CD Projekt Red (as well as author Andrzej Sapkowski for writing the books from which all other Witcher media has been spawned) are the creators of my favorite fantasy universe, only tied with Pillars of Eternity. What can I say, dark Medieval-era fantasy is best fantasy.
The game’s literary heritage is rather evident in the quests’ writing as well, from the main objectives that have you chasing down Geralt’s equivalent to a foster daughter to side missions where you must cleanse a certain area of restless spirits or track down the source of a curse that fouls the countryside. But again, each action has consequences: some quests, once you’ve failed (yet didn’t die or need to go back to your last checkpoint), cannot be redone. You’re a monster-slayer in the midst of an invasion from both a foreign empire and the supernatural creatures from beyond the veil of the waking world. It’s not going to be all sunshine, kittens, and rainbows.