Our journey through the staff of OnlySP’s 50 favourite games has entered its final stretch. Last week, we fired shotgun-style at a massive and venerable series. This week’s game is only the third in its series, yet may prove as ultimately important as Zelda…
#4. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, by Daniel Pereira
In any open-world RPG, the level of content provided can prove to be its defining feature. Quest structure and narrative quality are often highly regarded as being some of the greatest features in a video game. Games that provide an expert level of understanding in this category will achieve a greater connection with players, through providing a world that is properly fleshed out and detailed. A well-developed narrative can make or break an RPG, and titles that focus on telling a story that is worth hearing will be recognized for years to come.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt finds itself in a unique situation where it provides both quantity and quality, in regard to its content output. This amount of content is both a good thing, and a bad one, as most players will never experience the entirety of quests offered, potentially missing out on experiences that rival stories written in other games. One of the main criticisms directed towards The Witcher 3 is the amount of content it provides to players. As silly as criticizing a title for providing an abundance of content may seem, some players have had difficulty navigating its world due to the crowding quest markers and objectives. The unfortunate reality therein lies that there are some players who will complete their Witcher 3 experience without ever touching the content that allows its quality to truly shine.
Due to its position of being part of a video game series based on a book series, The Witcher 3 is full of source material to draw from, further bringing life to the world in which players roam around. For those who wish to just experience the main story following the search for Ciri, then they will have more than enough content to find fulfillment in that. Taking the time to branch off the beaten path and explore the world around Geralt will instead yield unique quests that give perspective to the monster hunter and those around him.
Some of the best content in The Witcher 3 can only be found in the side quests and the characters they introduce. For example, while on their way to locating Ciri’s whereabouts, players will find themselves wrapped in the tragic story that befell the Baron of Velen, otherwise known as the Bloody Baron. Despite most of this quest being a requirement for information gathered on Ciri, the game tells players to move on after the Baron upholds his part of the bargain, but not before he asks for Geralt’s assistance one last time. Choosing to aid him will begin a side quest that concludes the Baron story arc and provides closure for multiple characters that have been introduced up to that point. What makes this quest line so meaningful is being able to witness the transition and character development of the Bloody Baron, which culminates to his redemption in the optional side quest.
The Bloody Baron is just one character that is fleshed out through optional dialogue and quest-lines, and The Witcher 3 contains countless more as players progress. Further into the game, players will see Geralt temporarily step into the shoes of a detective as he hunts down a serial killer while the life of a friend is on the line. If players do not feel like investigating the murders of innocent women, they can instead aid a coup of a city’s current leadership to allow for a powerful ally to gain control. If political intrigue is not something of interest, how about visiting a haunted tower to rid surrounding civilians of its disturbance, only to find its culprit a young maiden who met a fate that will surely make one’s skin crawl? The Witcher 3 is full of side narratives that will appeal to everyone, and even evoke an appreciation from those who are not fans of the content.
The game has countless other examples of side quest narratives that deserve the spotlight for appreciation, but that is a topic for another day. Overall, the side quest structure that CD Projekt Red implemented in The Witcher 3 embodied a genuine focus on quality that is often absent in other titles of similar ilk. Whereas most vast RPGs will include an abundance of side content to bolster up game length and quantity, CD Projekt Red’s approach in The Witcher 3 was to allow side narratives to enrich the world around Geralt. By dedicating quality writing to side content, The Witcher 3 exhibits one of the liveliest open worlds in the video game industry. Players who take the time to explore the world around Geralt will be treated to some of the most memorable stories and characters, that are sure to remain with them for years to come.
Thanks for sharing The Witcher 3 with us as we barrel forward towards OnlySP’s #1 favourite game (at least this time around). If you want to see more open world or fantasy RPG entries on the list, we have already tackled Horizon Zero Dawn, Grand Theft Auto, Divinity: Original Sin 2, Skyrim, Dragon Age: Origins, and Red Dead Redemption.
Next week is yet another hugely influential title that broke as many games as it benefited—including, perhaps, its own series.