Occasionally here at Player2.net.au we will play something that deserves your attention but probably doesn’t need a full review written for it. Be it DLC for the latest AAA title, a little indie game or even an Android/iOS title. We play these titles for a blockbusting amount of time (2 – 5 hours) and report back to you the reader on what we found. So grab your popcorn and settle in for the latest episode of Blockbuster Gaming.
Blockbuster Gaming – The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone
As if I hadn’t already poured enough hours and long nights into one of 2015’s best games in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and just as I felt the urge to dive into the game night after night was waning, CD Projekt Red goes and drops the game’s first DLC – titled Hearts of Stone on us. The expectation of those who pick up Hearts of Stone is that the player has completed the core game, though if that’s not quite the case, you will still quite likely be lingering around the level 30 ballpark. This serves as the bare minimum required to be able to complete missions in Hearts of Stone without the need to repeat missions dozens of times in order to succeed. A hard act to follow but in adding another dozen plus hours of game time, Hearts of Stone has given me even more to love about The Witcher 3.
Though perhaps not carrying the same weight as the main campaign, the story of Hearts of Stone still intrigues due to the mystery surrounding a two pivotal characters, Olgierd Von Everic and the elusive, mysterious Gaunter O’Dimm. After executing on a contract to kill a monster wreaking havoc in the sewers, Geralt finds himself captured by a crew of Olfiri without a way to escape. Thankfully this is where the mysterious Gaunter O’Dimm re-emerges; we hadn’t seen him since the opening act of The Witcher 3 and I for one felt he had a greater role to play – it seems that is the case. After the mysterious O’Dimm springs Geralt from his cell, Geralt escapes the Olfiri before the ship crashes to shore. Stumbling from the vessel, Geralt returns to Olgierd looking for answers, but this sends him on a much larger quest to release both himself and Olgierd from debts that they now owe O’Dimm. With a heart of stone, and the inability to die, Olgierd has become a hardened man, he kills without mercy and lives only for himself, he’s hard not to dislike at first, but as his story becomes clearer, and the involvement of O’Dimm gets further explained, the dynamic between the trio changes dramatically. Filled with intrigue, Hearts of Stone tells a very different type of tale to that of the initial campaign, a welcome change to the end of the world fuelled plot that drove the main-game.
Though the game dabbles with some alternate art styles and offers a few different options to get the job done, for the large part little has changed from the main-game to the DLC, and I woudn’t have it any other way. Hearts of Stone adds some new cards to Gwent, while the Runewright adds a new dynamic to combat with the Runewright assisting to imbue your weapons and armour with enhancements. You also have the potential to engage in new sexual encounters with the lovely Shani, uncover a range of new locales, and embark on a bunch of new side-missions and contracts. Outside of these additions, the core experience remains untouched and still pleases while if you didn’t feel that you’d gotten your fill from the main campaign, these extras will satiate your appetite for another couple weeks.
Hearts of Stone is a fun follow up to one of 2015’s best games. It delivers us an engaging narrative thread, intriguing characters and a pile of new content to immerse yourself in. It’s more of what you loved about the main-game with a dash more humour, a sprinkling of new mission types and a great deal of mystery all added for good measure. If you’re looking to fill a couple dozen hours of gaming, then you could do a lot worse than Hearts of Stone. The Witcher 3 has already consumed hundreds of hours of my life, this has just resulted in me tumbling right back down the rabbit hole.