Posted at the nearest message board Geralt finds a note summoning him to head south of Velen to the new region of Toussaint. Last we saw our hero he had worked his way out of a jam involving a conflict between a demon and an immortal. This time it appears Geralt will attempt to rescue a damsel he once knew and her duchy from distress.
On the outside Toussaint is the most colorful and possibly the most beautiful area we have visited yet in the Witcher 3. However, like all things, looks can be deceiving and we quickly find the land is rotten to the core. Immediately you are greeted on your adventure by a knight errant who is in the process of being pummeled by a giant. This isn’t the first character we’ve run into during the Witcher that has attempted to do something disastrous (stupid) to prove his love for a maiden but it could be the most deadly.
The plot speeds ahead and Geralt finds himself in the midst of a murder investigation. The problem is he doesn’t have to find out just who the killer is, he also has to determine what the killer is. Fans of vampires will finally have their night in the moon. While vampires have made cameo appearances in previous quests and hunts they become the central pillars of Geralt’s latest foray. They not only make for compelling fodder to kill they also make for enigmatic antagonists. In keeping with what makes the Witcher so great most things aren’t truly evil, or even good for that matter. Should Geralt kill the object of his hunt? Is there another solution besides the silver sword? These decisions play out as central story unfolds.
The character development in this addition to the game is nothing less than superb. While Geralt seems set on ridding the world of evil while doomed to his fate of ultimately meeting his end at a monster’s claw he has collected a menagerie of interesting fellows to accompany him on his world tour. One such fellow that Geralt thought long dead pops up early in the story. While we have only just meet him it’s easy to believe the bond they once shared. The voice acting in the game is again top notch.
Besides the main story there are a number of side quests of varying level that have been added. There are hunts leveled in the upper 40s so even though it is recommended to start Blood and Wine at level 36 you’ll have plenty to do as you progress the main campaign and gain levels. Another tier of Witcher armor has been added to the game and corresponding hunt quests to find them. These are powerful sets and if you are having a tough time with combat they are worth your time to find. Besides the new high level armor there is also new mutations that affect your abilities. While these do not completely rewrite how you’ll conduct yourself in combat they do add a few new tricks to Geralt’s arsenal and can help out in a pinch. They just may provide you that edge you need in one of the harder encounters.
It’s not just the story and the new lands that CD Projekt Red scored on in Blood and Wine. They also provided the players a number of quality of life improvements. Inventory management has long been a pain in the Witcher. With this update they have introduced new tabs to help parse out your items. Unique markers have also been added to the map. Now instead of only being to place the one green arrow you can place up to 10 different markers with 4 different indicator shapes and colors. While crafting if you are short materials it will display if that materials is for sale by the craftsman and if it is you can buy it without ever leaving the crafting screen. A dye system and plenty of new dyes have been introduced to the game as well as a preview system. You can see what that new armor looks like on Geralt or on Roach before you buy or equip it. Geralt will even take possession of a vineyard and build it out as his base of operations.
CD Projekt Red has raised the bar on what it takes to make a high quality story driven RPG. They did not fail to deliver on Geralt’s final tale either. If this is our last hurrah with the White Wolf it was time well spent.
This review was conducted with a digital PC copy of Blood and Wine that was provided by CD Projekt Red’s North American PR team.
Gameplay: 9 Game plays as great as ever. New mutations to old abilities add new tricks to Geralt’s arsenal.
Visuals and Sound: 10 The game looks fantastic. The new area serves as a stark contrast to Velia. However it proves the adage that even if something is beautiful on the outside it can be rotten to the core.
Polish: 9 Game runs well. Slight frame rate issues when initially logging into the game that wasn’t there in the base game. Goes away within seconds. New monsters, new mutations, and new Gwent deck integrate seamlessly.
Longevity: 10 The new main story can be rushed and completed in 10 hours. If you don’t critical path the story you’ll take around 12-15. Factor in the side quests and you are looking at 30+ hours of high quality content.
Value: 10 If you didn’t already buy the season pass what are you waiting for? If you liked Witcher 3 it is a can’t miss with Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine. Blood and Wine is a great value alone at $20 for a 10 hour main story and 30+ hours of side quests.
- Intriguing story
- New Gwent deck
- Improved inventory management
- Roach still gets stuck