The Never Ending Realm
The Witcher 3 Review by Samuel Rivera
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The Witcher 3 might have been the most powerful reason why I switched from the PS3 to the PS4 this holiday season, having finished Skyrim, I wanted to experience the next great open world fantasy RPG, and The Witcher 3 provided just that. The witcher 3 is a great game, but the question remains; is it better than skyrim?


A Visual Master Piece


Few games can claim to look better than the Witcher 3, in fact I dare say in terms of foliage, lighting and just plain visual grandeur the game remains to this date virtually unmatched. Fallout 4 is newer than Witcher 3 and looks a full generation behind in spots. The greatest Character models I have ever seen in a game are the ones in Naughty Dog's the Last of Us Remaster, and Witcher matches that quality in each character model it presents.

Every detail in the game's world from clothing to weather effects is meticulously rendered, the game completely justified my investment on a new console since the visual spectacle presented here cannot be run on past consoles. There are some issues with the frame-rate of course. While a lot of FPS on this console generation can run full 1080p at 60 frames per second, the same feat has not been replicated in open world games, and considering how stunning witcher looks the fact that the game runs at a locked 30 frames per second (after a hefty update) is impressive. Other than some frame rate drops there nothing to complain about in Witcher's visual package. Velen presents a perfect swampy dark land beautifully, and Skellige is just the place for those of us missing the wintery grandeur of Skyrim's world.

I must stress here at some point the amazing weather system in the game, for the sole reason that it truly impacts the look of the game, its mind blowing to see gigantic tree lines naturally move to the sound of the howling wind, if the witcher does one thing better than the rest it is that it presents a world full of beauty and grandeur with out ever compromising realism and that truly makes this game world feel alive at least in terms of visual style.

More GTA than Elders Scrolls


From the mission structure to the world map at the top left corner in the screen the game feels like it plays like GTA would in a Lord of the Rings-Game of Thrones setting, this isn't a bad thing since it differentiates the game from one of its main competitors that being said, The Witcher 3 presents you with a gigantic beautiful world to explore that sometimes feels a little flat, especially for someone who has played Skyrim for hundreds of hours.

Now Witcher 3 has plenty of hidden loot and treasure waiting to be uncovered, its just that there are no layers to the world. The real state in the Witcher 3 might be when all is said and done in terms of scale bigger than Skyrim, but only on the surface. Missing are the multiple massive dungeons and caverns that one would casually stumble upon while traversing the world of Skyrim, here the caverns (except some story related dungeons) are beautiful yet small, and after exploring the land for 30 hours or so you fall in to the same pattern of running around killing monsters to find some what useful treasure or crafting materials in chests laying around in the over world while heading to the next quest point.

Unlike Skyrim which offered both the thrill of exploring for the prospect of new amazing treasure, level advancement and new sights.The thrill of exploring in witcher 3 eventually becomes one of just finding some beautiful sight to behold and maybe run into an interesting monster battle provided that you are ready. Unlike Skyrim, Witcher really relies on the story and the side story characters the player encounters in every side mission to lure said player into investing their time on its world, and for the most part it works.


It works because of the excellent voice acting and the fact that walking from point A to point B (you can also travel by horse or use warp points) is not a tedious chore since the world is so vast and beautiful. However eventually it does get repetitive and more likely you will focus on finishing the main quests which are very engaging and have wonderful stories waiting to be uncovered.

Witcher 3 tells a great story in an open world, Skyrim gives you a great open world while trying to tell a decent story, thats mainly where the difference lies between those two titles. The main plot in the W3 is engrossing and fulfilling until the very end, and while it takes elements from the game of thrones and other fantasy books Geralt and Ciri add a charm and uniqueness to the tale. The fact that Geralt can make decisions that have important repercussions throughout the game is a true bonus. Playing Witcher 3 I truly felt that I had the power in me to decide how the story would end and while a lot of the events are scripted some of the consequences of my choices are not and it makes an already compelling tale more interesting than the usual RPG that we are accustomed to playing.


Thrilling Combat

On the normal difficulty setting, Witcher offers quite challenging foes, in this regard the game is tougher than Skyrim. In Skyrim I remember toppling mega powerful foes by simply spotting myself on an unreachable ledge (for the enemies) and shooting arrows at them with patience and a gameplan. In Witcher 3 if you are not at a high level, some of the high level foes and beasts will you topple you quite easily no matter what strategy you employ. Gaining levels can also be a bit tedious and long, for combat is not rewarding in that aspect. Witcher awards the vast majority of its EXP points if you complete a wide array of missions, but combat is surprisingly not rewarding enough in that aspect which makes absolutely no sense. You see Witcher 3 by design invites the player into a grinding routine of fighting different enemies just traveling from one quest spot to the next. The game is heavy on combat, and after 30 hours or so I found combat quite a tedious exercise simply because the EXP reward for toppling a high level monster wasn't worth the effort.This is a shame because other wise the violent sword play present in the Witcher 3 is quite satisfying and thrilling.


I mostly got by just using my sword and smashing everything in my path, but some of the tougher foes, including Werewolfs and other mythical beasts require a strategic combination of Geralt's sword skills with his magic abilites. All in all the Witcher behaves as an one would expect a modern action RPG would, not really being able to go in a first person mode when using the crossbow took away the fun out of using that long range weapon, I rarely used it during my entire play time.


Horse riding is mostly smooth, as is exploring towns and villages on foot, collecting loot takes a huge chunk of the game as this powers the crafting system, be it armor, weapons or potions. The Witcher 3 is a huge game in every sense of the word, and in terms of gameplay it will be interesting how much the new upcoming Zelda takes or doesn't take from it. Zelda plays different but since it will debut a true open world it will be interesting to see what the legendary series does, as of now Witcher is the standard bearer as far as 3-D third person RPGs go this generation.

The game does have some minor technical problems, it crashed a few times during my play time on the ps4 and there frame rate drops here and there. One time I got stuck on a rock and had to reset the game because I couldnt get out of it. I hadn't patched the game at that time so probably this issue was fixed in an update. Also CD projekt the developers have taken it upon themselves to extend the play time by adding free downloadable quests on the playstation store for FREE, which is a nice added bonus.


Sound wise....amazing


Musically every composition is beautiful and fits the mood of the game properly, there is a film quality to the music presented here thats hard to find in many other games. The ambient effects are adequate and the voice acting is stellar, from Geralt to even some of the minor characters the developers at CDP were meticulous when crafting this masterpiece. The game even includes a soundtrack in the package, a truly wonderful gift since I guarantee you will come way from this game enamored with the tunes.


A must for any gamer


Just like Skyrim before it, The Witcher 3 is a must have game, it shows the power of new generation consoles, and takes the RPG genre into a new level of greatness. This is the best looking RPG I have ever played, and also has the best story I have ever seen in an open world type of game. Until the next Elder Scrolls entry the Witcher is likely to remain the king of open world RPGs on PS4 and Xbox One.



Gameplay: 8.5-Lack of real meaningful EXP in combat hurts the score in such a combat heavy title, also the game could have had tighter shooting mechanics and more incentives to go out looking for caves and dungeons to explore. Limited load capacity in terms of how many items you can carry on Geralt at once is tedious because of all the loot the game forces you to pick up in order to utilize the crafting system properly.

Graphics: 9.5-I wish I could give it a ten, but frame rate issues hurt the score, that being said the foliage and textures in this game make Fallout 4 look a whole generation behind, and the character models are nearly flawless..

Music: 10.0-Game of thrones epic, and excellent truly marvelous voice acting.

Story: 9.5-As good and as intriguing as it gets in an open world game.

Addictiveness: 10.0-If you are a completist, well there is well over 100 hours of content here.

Overall: 9.5- Not as intriguing as Skyrim was when it first launched and not as time draining, but definitely one of the best games ever made.


 



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