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: Blood and Wine
PC, Xbox One, PS4
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is without doubt the finest game of 2015. Wild Hunt superbly merged a massive open world with extraordinary storytelling, polished combat, incredible visuals and hundreds of hours of gameplay. We’ve already been blessed with one wonderful piece of expansion content in the form of October 2015’s Hearts of Stone, but that was only the entrée, the main course comes in the form of the recently released Blood & Wine. Can it scale the same lofty heights that the core game reached? Well let me assure you firstly, this expansion pack is a more substantial game that most full releases.
Three years have passed since the conclusion of the main game and our hero Geralt has been the recipient of yet another contract. This one comes from the Duchess of Toussaint, who has lost two of her most able knights to a monster that has been terrorising the region – you’re tasked with slaying the beast before more blood is shed. This is no ordinary contract, though; as you might expect of any case involving the heads of a nation, there’s a lot of red tape, and secrets kept from you, so nothing is as straightforward as it ought to be. You’ll cross paths with old friends and make plenty of new ones but nothing is as you might expect, there are some crazy twists and turns present, one’s that you’ll most likely not see coming. Choice is of course a big factor, and there are a lot of combinations and permutations attached to each decision made, decisions that will dictate the path the story goes down and how big picture moments transpire.
Of course, The Witcher 3 was a beautiful game, it set a high bar for what open-world games should be aspiring to but Blood & Wine extends this further, not due to any further technical wizardry but off the back of exceptional artistic design. Touissant is beautiful, the city is wonderfully detailed, but as are the nearby fields and meadows; there are some wonderful vistas, and the sunsets stun thanks to a combination of excellent lighting and artistry. I find it quite rare that I utilise the Playstation’s share button, but it was worked overtime in the case of Blood & Wine – If I didn’t have so many other missions to complete then I may have stood in the one place for several hours just taking it all in, marvelling at its beauty.
Blood & Wine is of course an expansion to the core Witcher 3 experience so there aren’t too many deviations to the core formula possible, but thanks in large part to recent patches, there were some drastic improvements made to menus among other little tweaks that makes the experience that much easier. Gwent returns with a new deck, ensuring that a dozen more hours will be consumed on top of the 150+ that the game and Gwent combined have already (willingly) sapped from my life. The combat still feels fluid, and the scope of the map is comparable to what we see in Novigrad or Skellige. Like Skellige though, you will find some frustration when trying to navigate certain portions. Some smaller invisible walls may prevent Roach from gliding down what should be a relatively simple slope, and tiny, narrow bridges can sometimes make riding feel like you’re trying to thread the head of a needle, a nuisance given the loose and imprecise feel of horse-riding in the game.
Despite some of the few remaining concerns from the core game persisting throughout Blood & Wine, it is another excellent chapter in the life of Geralt the Witcher. Intriguing from moment one, gorgeous to gaze upon and loaded with endless hours of content, it’s the cherry on top of what is quite arguably the greatest game of the generation. Blood & Wine concludes what has been a phenomenal game in the best possible way, and if you’re yet to have been introduced to The Witcher 3 – the time is now to climb aboard.