The day has finally arrived. The long awaited The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt hit store shelves this week and has quickly taken the gaming world by storm. The 200-hour playtime has panned out, the open world is rich with stories and hidden content, and the game as a whole can be taken as one of the achievements of this generation of video games. It’s also deep. But never fear! We’re here to help you get started with our own set of 25 handy tips.
1. Remember to meditate
Geralt is about as tough as Witchers come, but he’s not immortal. Actually, he’s much more fragile than you would first think! If you’ve taken a few hits, save your health potions for when you need them most. Open the menu and select the meditate option. Time will advance during meditation but when you come to, you’ll be restored to full health.
2. Stock up on food and drinks for when you can’t/don’t want to meditate
This tip comes from our editor and reviewer for The Witcher 3, Bill Murphy. Always be sure to have food, drink, and potions on hand! Sometimes you can’t or won’t want to meditate. In those cases, consumables are your primary way to regain lost health. Don’t go into the wilderness unprepared!
3. Don’t shy away from side quests
Side quests in The Witcher are some of the best available in open world RPGs today. Some last many hours and prove more interesting and rewarding than the main campaign is at times. The world of The Witcher is extremely rich, more so than the main campaign entirely translates. Take the time to help the citizens of the world. You’ll earn XP, new loot, and feel a better sense of attachment to the game world.
4. Your horse can automatically follow the road
A simple tip but a good one. Unlike other open world RPGs, Wild Hunt does not allow you to fast travel just anywhere. Instead, you can go to road signs, which are often a good distance from where you actually want to go. Make Roach gallop on a road and he will automatically begin to follow it. Just be careful because he can overshoot the mark if you step away for too long.
5. Exchange Florens and Orens for Crowns at the bank
You’ll receive three types of currency during the game: florens, orens, and crowns. Unfortunately, crowns are the only useable currency for most merchants. When you unlock the city of Novigrad, visit the Vivaldi Bank to exchange your orens and florens for cold hard crowns.
6. Iron sword for humans, silver for monsters
This is a no brainer for players versed in The Witcher 2 or the wider lore but Geralt carries two swords for a reason: iron is for humans, silver is for monsters (they can’t stand to even touch it!). The game will usually draw the appropriate sword for you but it’s possible to re-draw the wrong sword with a miss-pressed button. If you notice yourself doing less damage, make sure you’re using the right sword for your enemy.
7. Normal difficulty can be challenging, but try turning it up
Many games today scale back difficulty in the name of accessibility. Normal is easy, hard is normal, easy is for newcomers to video gaming as a whole. CD Projekt Red claims to have retained some of the challenge curve from The Witcher 2 but many players still find it far too easy. Try bumping the difficulty, especially if you’re on PC.
8. Play with a gamepad
Love it or hate it, Wild Hunt seems made for a game pad. It’s possible to play with keyboard and mouse but it doesn’t take long before you realize just how underserved that control scheme feels. Play with a gamepad, embrace the gamepad, be one with the gamepad...
9. Know what your signs do
One of the biggest criticisms of The Witcher 2 was that it didn’t explain combat well enough, particularly what each sign did. Here’s the breakdown.
Aard - Telekinetic blast that staggers opponents leaving them open to attack
Yrden - Ground trap that slows enemies caught in its web
Quen - Magical shield which absorbs 5% of your total health
Axii - Charms your opponent and removes them from combat for 7 seconds, also allows you to influence dialogue sequences with jedi powers
Igni - Turn your hand into a sparkler!
10. Consider investing in magic
Okay, now that you know what they do, you should really consider spending ability points to upgrade some of the basics, like Axii, Igni, and Quen. Here’s a snapshot of each sign’s upgrade tree:
Aard - Upgrades extend range, cone of attack, intensity, and damage
Yrden - Upgrades increase duration, trap and destroy projectiles with pass through it, destroy small enemies, and add a damage over time effect
Quen - Upgrades add a damaging knockback upon expiration, turns into an active shield at the cost of stamina, and reflect damage back at the attacker
Axii - Upgrades keep enemies from moving toward Geralt, assist in battle, and allow you to charm multiple opponents at once
Igni - Upgrades allow flames to permanently weaken armor, turn your sparkler into a flamethrower, and apply a burning DoT damage over time.
11. Explore! Focus on Places of Power and Spoils of War
The world is huge, vast, and mostly open (see next point). Take the time to venture off the beaten path. There are many hidden areas, including monster hideouts, ruins, and secret tunnels, and there’s lots of hidden treasure to behold, too. Check your map and seek out the 16 Places of Power for free ability points to enhance your character. Spoils of Wars are also key if you’re just in it for the treasure. Just beware of the tough mobs that often guard such treasure.
12. Buy treasure maps whenever you can
Some merchants will sell non-descript maps. You should buy these whenever possible. They lead to -- shockingly -- treasure and typically new items to fill out your set of Witcher branded apparel™. Keep these items even after you’ve outleveled them because they’re used to make future tiers of some of the best armor in the game.