Witcher 3, the newest game in the series and definitely the best one so far. While there were a lot of question marks on the map, indicating points of interest like monster nests or buried treasures, they were completely optional and not at all relevant to the story (though I just had to run to all of them, completionist that I am). The actual quests and sidequests were really well written, each having its own minor story including investigation into what’s happened, usually a lot of dialogue and concluding more often than not with a tougher monster fight. Kudos to CD Projekt RED for making even the smaller side quests feel important!
And, as in previous games, the main story is excellently written, though it leaves you with even more freedom in this game. You start out with 3 different main quests and can choose which one to do first (though the level of the area the quest is in kinda acts like a guide there). Here I’d like to add that the character models (and graphics in general) are just fantastic. Just look at the models of Yennefer or Triss (or any other character for that matter). Even the running horses have been carefully modeled to run like real horses (I am told by a friend who has spend quite some time with horses). And the conversation scenes are even further improved using a rather interesting algorithm.
Both potion management and crafting were hugely improved in this game. While they existed in previous game I always found them uninteresting and more of a nuisance before. But in this game they really had the chance to shine. Potions only need to be crafted once now, then can be replenished when you rest as long as you’re carrying some alcohol. As for crafting, the best armors of the game (Witcher sets from the different schools) are crafted, though it’ll take some running around to collect all the ingredients. My only complaint about crafting was that the basic Wolf armor set was made available rather late in the game (and you need to make the base armor set to then make the upgraded versions).
Skills in the game… well, here I thought the game took a bit of a step backward. In the second game there were a few big skill trees that worked rather well. Here you could invest points in skills in categories and could invest in more potent skills once you had spend enough points in that category (no real issue there, though the tree architecture was nicer). The real issue is that you have to equip the skills to gain any benefit from them and you have a very limited set of skill slots (12 max). I bypassed this by installing a mod which let me equip an unlimited amount of skills (might’ve made my character a bit overpowered, but didn’t bother me).
Travelling in the game… well, I think this was one of the best solutions I’ve seen so far. Towns and villages had sign posts you could fast travel to, then you could ride on your trusty horse, Roach, to the questing area. Or you could just ride Roach all the way, the riding was really well done and was honestly quite enjoyable. The same can be said for the small boats you can sail up and down the rivers or around the Skellige Isles. Another important aspect of the travelling is that there are barely any loading screens (except when loading saves, fast travelling or travelling between non-connected areas). Every building can be entered without a loading screen. Unfortunately, when there are loading screens (like when you reload a save again and again to get something just right) they’re really annoying, because they’re set up as Dandelion retelling the story so far, and when you’ve loaded a save for the 5th times in 10 minutes (not something that happens often, but it can happen), hearing that crap gets really old really fast.
The Hearts of Stone DLC is truly something great. The story might even be better than that of the original game (at least it’s more fun) and the rest will have to be hidden behind spoiler tags…
So, the game was excellent (as is only to be expected of a game of this series) in every way and the story was great (especially the Hearts of Stone DLC story). Can’t wait for the next CD Projekt Red game, Cyberpunk 2077.