The Witcher III: Blood And Wine
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…so damn good.
Witcher 3: Blood And Wine is the final piece of DLC for Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. On the one hand, it’s pretty sad that the Witcher 3 saga, one of the best games of 2015, is ending. On the other, it’s hard to be too upset when the content offered is so damn good.
Blood And Wine takes place in the as yet unseen land of Toussaint, a very different landscape to the wartorn hellholes our white-haired beast-stabber, Geralt of Rivia, has explored in the main game and previous expansion, Hearts Of Stone. Toussaint is more of a “high fantasy” setting, where knights have chivalric codes, wear colourful armour and affect a mode of verbose, poetic speech that juxtaposes beautifully (and frequently hilariously) with Geralt’s gravelly grumble talk. At first the fairy tale-hued land seems to be full of well-intentioned idiots, but a few quests in it becomes clear that not all those who proclaim their chivalry are noble, and not all beasts are monsters. Geralt’s reason for being dragged into the land of vineyards and poets is, predictably, to hunt down a monster. Said creature is offing knights in darkly ironic ways, in something like a fantasy riff on David Fincher’s Seven. However, as Geralt digs into the case it becomes clear there’s more going on under the surface, and Toussaint isn’t quite the perfumed paradise it purports to be.
Gameplay, wise little has changed, and that’s perfectly fine. Geralt takes on story missions, secondary quests and Witcher contracts. Some of them are layered, nuanced, even funny and some are forgettable. Combat sees a small upgrade with a new form of mutagen crafting and upgrading that unlocks a series of new skills, but to be honest it’s hardly going to revolutionise your play style. Yes, launching Aard with a 25% chance of freezing is fun, but it’s not a game changer on any fundamental level.
New armour sets, weapons and monsters are also added, but again – this is for completists because The Witcher 3’s big strength is story, and in that regard Blood and Wine is consistently impressive. From Geralt’s relationship with “high vampire” Regis, to the tense communications with Duchess Anna Henrietta to the various problems of class, religion and conflict, Toussaint is painted with appealing levels of depth and complexity. It also features some of the most beautiful environments the Witcher 3 has offered yet, with stunning graphics on console versions and high end PCs alike.
During the 20-30 hours of Blood And Wine, you’ll find yourself facing tough foes, difficult moral choices, and complex characters. You’ll also finally have a home to call your own, with a vineyard you can upgrade and settle down in, with whichever NPC (if any) you decide to make your partner.
Goodbyes are hard, and farewelling the Witcher 3 is especially difficult, but Blood And Wine represents a hell of a parting gift and a timely reminder of the fantastic work that CD Projekt Red did crafting The Witcher 3. So raise your glass, grab your sword, and get ready to spill plenty of blood and drink loads of wine.