The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine
Less bugs than the main game had
Choices to avoid combat make sense
Combat is still a bit iffy mostly dodging and rolling
Loading times are a slog
Platforms available: PS4, Xbox One & PC
Version Tested: PS4
Game code kindly supplied for testing by CD Projekt Red
This is more than just a DLC, it’s not just a new quest that you’ll finish in an hour, like some expansions tend to be. You’re getting a good chunk of extra main story quests, new contracts and new side quests. You even get a house to live in. The main quest is, without spoilers, helping the city of Toussaint kill a monster, you’re hired by the Duchess to slay a beast tormenting her city and her people which unfolds into an amazing 10-15 hour main quest line. With mystery and surprises at all turns.
Something else worth noting, is how CD Projekt allow you to tackle the DLC. Should you be a high enough level you just make your way to a notice board (any will do) and select the comtract, the quest line begins. There’s a criteria for starting the DLC which is both, being level 34 or higher and you must have finished the “Poet under Pressure” quest in the main game. You can start fresh and proceed to the DLC when you’ve met the criteria or you can start the DLC only (and side quests from the main game no main quests though) with a levelled up character with appropriate gear and weapons.
But once you’re in Toussaint you’ll notice almost immediately how much brighter and more colourful everything is. The scenery is beautiful, the town of Toussaint is bursting with life. You can feel the towns being alive. And it’s wonderful. You’re not feared here either, people don’t look at you as the big bad Witcher, you’re just The Witcher. You’re not be feared or revered. You’re just treated like anyone else would be.
And there’s no shortage of things to do, the main quest line will keep you occupied for upwards of 15 hours, while there’s a good portion of side quests and contracts to partake in also. For only $19.99 Blood & Wine has almost as much content as full priced games. The season pass is $24.99 and if you haven’t played Hearts of Stone pick up the season pass and play both DLC’s. For the price of the pass you’ll get a great value for money.
The only gripe I really have with The Witcher as a whole is the combat which was never really good, I find the only useful sign is Quen for the shield and combat is mostly dodging and rolling and taking a swing or two and then rolling away. Some fights I couldn’t help but feel like I had torn the fabrics of space and time and Geralt had fallen into Lordran and I’m playing Dark Souls. Blood and Wine’s combat is no different but it’s a minor gripe and doesn’t really bother me too much. I never ran into too much trouble fighting.
A big problem I did have during the more difficult fights was dying was a pain in the ass, not because I’d failed but because the loading times are excruciating. On average of two minutes with times up to three and a half minutes the combat shortcomings became a bit more annoying with that in mind.
But luckily there’s not too many very difficult fights. And most fights can be avoided should you choose your words carefully during conversations. Which adds a greater sense of depth to the experience because, Gearlt isn’t just a murderer. He doesn’t walk around stabbing men and women left and right he’s a monster killer. So the option being readily available to you to skip a confrontation that’s unnecessary makes sense for the character you’re playing. He even mentions at one point during the main quest that given the option he doesn’t even kill a monster who doesn’t need to die.
Moving onwards and keeping with the point above its even completely possible to skip the final boss should you wish. I would defiantly sway towards telling anyone they should do it because it’s a pretty cool fight, but if the combat just grinds your gears too much then you can avoid the fight all together! Hats off to you CD Projekt. It’s a fantastic choice to be offered for players who are more interested in the story side of things and who aren’t really as fussed with the combat and it leads back in to Geralt not just killing for the sake of it when he (or you) think it unneeded.
Another note worthy point is bugs and glitches in Blood & Wine. Or rather, the lack thereof. Wild Hunt was a bit of a joke when it came to bugs and annoying glitches. Roache being one of the more annoying ones, like when he got stuck in front of doors and you could leave houses. You could forgive CD Projekt Red being their first open world game and they’ve done all the can post launch to correct these bugs. And what they are doing is defiantly working, there’s so few here the only one of note I can remember is a character just not being visible even though he’s right in front of Geralt. More amusing than annoying, it’s a lot better than Roache blocking my exits. Speaking of Roache she’s more responsive than before and her path guiding AI however seems to be a little less accurate than I remember but those are small things.
Blood & Wine is a fantastic goodbye to Geralt. I loved every minute of it and can’t wait to see what CD Projekt Red have in store for the future. I’m hopeful if there’s more in The Witcher series it comes with a refined combat system. Regardless of what they do, I’m confident it will be fantastic. But as for Blood & Wine, I’m glad I was able to see Geralt’s story finish up.