The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — The Closest Possible Thing to a Masterpiece

Few games get the same level of universal praise that The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt enjoys. Many would say that this is the best game of this current console generation and you would be hard pressed to argue that point. CD Projekt Red has built a beautiful open world for the player to run wild in. Like any RPG worth its salt, you can expect to lose at least a couple of days if you plan on beating this game. I think it’s a foregone conclusion that The Witcher 3 is an incredible game, and you won’t learn anything from yet another review singing its praises. So instead of doing that, I’ll just tell you up front that I rated this game a 9.5/10, just shy of what I would consider a masterpiece. In this review I will attempt to defend this position.

The world of The Witcher 3 boasts beautiful landscapes and plenty of loot that can be found a variety of ways. Looking at the in game map one can easily get overwhelmed at the amount of markers leading to monster dens, treasure chests, and side quests. While this may seem like a good thing at first, afterall more content is better than less content, I’m ashamed to report that much of CD Project Red’s effort in developing went to waste during my play through. I found that the vast majority of the markers on the map lead to mediocre you, and the same could be said about most of the side quests. You level up really fast in this game, and there is simply too much to do before you find that you’re already too overleveled to take on the rest of the things you haven’t gotten to yet. The shame of it is that the side quests in this game are high quality, much more so than most open world games, so fear of missing out is a real thing. I can’t tell you how many witcher contracts with interesting monsters to hunt down that I’ve decided not to do because the rewards were so miniscule.

The Witcher 3’s combat system is pretty good, but nothing special. The tried and true parry, dodge, roll, light and heavy attacks way of doing things feel great, and the five witcher signs Geralt has at his disposal are unique and provide plenty of variety and customization. The perk system on the other hand is very limiting and unintuitive. This is due in large part to the mutagen mechanic. You’re perks get a significant buff if you have the proper mutagen, so I found myself building my character based on whatever my best mutagens were. Mutagens are picked up by killing monsters and are generally hard to come by. This combined with the fact that there are three different classes of mutagens for three different classes of perks, makes the process of collecting and upgrading the proper mutagens an extremely challenging task.

My final unpopular opinion about this game is about its story. While I can tell that the writers did a great job, I found the tale a bit hard to follow. Granted, this is my first Witcher game, so I’m unfamiliar with a lot of the lore, but that shouldn’t affect the general coherence of the story. The characters are memorable and well written, but there are simply too many of them to remember what minor specific role they had in the story. The different plot lines throughout the story are certainly interesting. Geralt’s looking for Ciri, the Wild Hunt threatens to destroy everything, there’s a war going on, but I just can’t seem to remember how it all fits together. Again, I want to reiterate the writers did a phenomenal job with this game, but it’s a little too dense for me to follow.

The Witcher 3 is a must play game. I would say that it is the second best game I’ve played on Xbox One, right behind Red Dead Redemption 2. I cannot officially consider this game a masterpiece because of the problems I’ve written about here, but a game of this caliber only comes out once every few years. Not playing it would be a disservice.