The Witcher 3: Wild Huntis a rabbit hole of fantasy. The world that the hero, Geralt of Rivia, lives in is one of warring political factions; as the last of the Witchers, he has a set of skills that make him an in-demand hero. Whether it means undertaking a huge quest that’ll carry him across the lands of The Continent to find a woman named Ciri or championing the little folk that populate the villages scattered throughout, Geralt is almost always at the center of the action, needed desperately but isolated because of it.
The Witcher 3 builds on the mythos laid out in the prior two games in the series and newcomers may want to do a little research to catch up on the plot. All the Witcher games so far have required a serious time investment but, until now, none of the games have paid you back so thoroughly for spending hours in the game, whether you’re on task or not. Still, if you’re new, being current will definitely give you a leg up. Like so many fantasy stories, the cast is large and names will be fuzzy even for longtime devotees. If you read a few Wikis (or the in-game appendix), stock up on your inventory of buffs and boons and hone your combat skills, you’ll be well on your way to a wildly successful playthrough of Wild Hunt.
As much as The Witcher 3 conforms to other games in the fantasy RPG genre, Wild Hunt injects huge variety into its wide cast, telling their stories through impressive CGI cut scenes (even on consoles) and with an air of mystery. While the main storyline is a world-spanning uncovering of facts in a man-on-fire quest to track down a special lady, even sidequests aren’t the same old search and retrieve missions that we’ve come to expect in open-world games. The Witcher 3 actually makes you work for your rewards and we appreciated the spoils of our labor more because of it. The Witcher 3 takes the enjoyable approach of actually getting to the bottom of a problem and then solving it where most other games bash you over the head with both problem and solution before asking you to brute force your way to completing the mission at hand. It’s a smart decision made by CD Projekt Red (the studio behind the game) and one we’d like to see in other open-world games down the line.
Besides the outstanding graphics, enormous world to explore, and engaging story that carries you along, The Witcher 3 has something going for it that most games don’t: Sex. If Game of Thrones paved the way for a fantasy story to become mainstream, we also credit it with making sexytimes commonplace in those stories. The Witcher takes that to heart and makes Geralt a magical Casanova, one who’s sterile by nature and always looking for a good time...even if that means bumping uglies on top of a unicorn. It’s a major departure from the one-sided eunuchs that populate most of the games in the fantasy genre and a choice that makes The Witcher more adult, more complex, and simply better than its competition. If you’re looking for a place to dump hundreds of your summertime hours before the rush of blockbuster fall games hit shelves, The Witcher 3 is a worthy depository.