Its hard to get a final game in a series right. Many have failed and few have been successful, The Witcher falls in the latter category. Although the game is fundamentally the same, there is some back to basics for Geralt to include a learning curve, as well as the combat that people adored in previous Witcher games.
That being said, some fans may feel like something has been taken away from the game, however, we feel Geralt's new(ish) combat system suits him better. Gone are the days where you'd have to guess if a troll is around the corner therefore having to carry as many potions you could carr, for every eventuality. Instead Sigils become more of a combat focus, the same sigils are there if you're a returning player, magical shields, flame blasts and evem mind control. These are all incased and shown off in a much better tutorial, this tutorial also acts as a precursor to the main story (which you can skip if you're already versed in the sexy, gory world of Geralt).
Combat is something different, the array of monsters and warring factions force you to change your combat style every so often. Skill trees offer more powerful sword attacks, crossbow attacks, more potent potions (useful for harder Witcher contracts) and even extra life. Unlike other RPGs though, you can't have every skill active at once. Every few levels you get a new active skill slot, combining these together makes Geralt a stronger hand-to-hand fighter or better at ranged combat. It can even make your sigils stronger and potions last longer. Mutagens are also back. The same thing applies, you only get four mutagen slots and they unlock at certain landmark levels. Only strange thing is the slow slog that is the first few levels. Normally the first 10 or so levels are easy to gain in an RPG in the first few hours. With the Witcher, levels can go up slowly. This is another reason to explore as magic stones give you an attribute point and a temporary boost to a sigils power. Making them invaluable to hunt down.
The world itself is beautifully presented, rolling hills and snow-capped mountains are amazingly detailed. Often, the soundtrack matches the back drop perfectly, even adding to the drama of a combat scenario. Great example is the first Witcher Contract of the Gryffin. The music blends with the gameplay to create an atmosphere that wouldn't work on its own.
The game is easy to navigate (if you're willing to explore even easier still). Around maps you'll discover fast travel points where you can go to new areas of the same map of later to new maps you've discovered. Obviously the best way to get around is to use the sidekick, you're lovely horse, Roach. There is even a chance for instant kills if you ride him in combat, but he can get too full of fear and buck you off of you dont use your sigil to calm him in the heat of the battle.
The story is a little lacklustre in places, however, you will be so enthralled by doing you're own exploring, you won't care. The game wants you to explore. CD PROJEKT Red have put a lot of distant way markers for you to go and explore. They call to you, pretty much in the same way exploration called us in Skyrim. It is a good idea to explore, you may come across a mini quest which later in the game results to a new merchant popping up, these can be life saving if you need to sell goods and buy gear, but don't want to go back in to town. Also a good idea is making sure to visit every question mark location on a map. You never know what you'll find.
The conversational set pieces do well to merge into this too. You can get things oh so wrong and turn communities against you (although they'll still let you buy from them). You can make things worse for people, make situations better or find something interesting, like trinkets. This can also get you in trouble, as I found out in a bar when using my mond controll to extrapolate information out of someone, which his friend didn't take too kindly too.
There are ways to kick back and just enjoy yourself too. Can go in to taverns and order food for your journey ahead, while you're there, have a game of Gwent.
Gwent is the new board game. If you're familiar with Witcher 2 and did all the quests for the tavern game, then this might be for you. In essence, it is like Magic the Gathering, although much more simple. Each player has a deck with an army. Front line troops, magic casters, archers and seige weapons. Each unit has a power number. The aim is to have more power across your units than your opponent does when you both skip your turns. This can become harder as there are weather cards which impact boths armies negatively and a hero card, which grants yoy a special power. The aim is to win two rounds. But once you've used a card, you can't in the next round.
The Witcher 3 is both beautiful and brutal. It punishes the smallest mistake but rewards you if you succeed. It gives you extra items and useful skills of you're willing to explore (which you should be). It is pretty much the essential current gen RPG. The backdrop is great to look at, the soundtrack is brilliant. The story is a little weak in places and changes between gameplay and cutscene can sometimes confuse the engine but overall this is a game that should be a feature in your collection. Especially if you're a true RPG fan.