In my ongoing playthrough of The Witcher 3, the good news is that, since my last post, I’ve managed to make it to Level 19! The even better news is that I f-i-n-a-l-l-y got Geralt’s handsome visage out of rural Velen and into the bustling city of Novigrad, which is proving quite distracting, but in a good way. If there’s any bad news to be conveyed, it’s simply that life these days hasn’t allowed me much time to get distracted in a good way in Novigrad, so it feels like I might just be playing The Witcher 3 forever. But, I’m not complaining.
Well, perhaps I can complain a little. But what follows is less a complaint and more a roundabout compliment. As many of you well know, The Witcher 3 has a lot of story to tell. A. LOT. And that’s awesome, and I love it. Because I love an engrossing and engaging video game story. To that end, I find that I tend to become a bit angry if I’m not able to be fully “in the moment” with the game during any give session. Even the slightest external ruffle can make me miss something, causing me to get a little huffy and only further disconcerted. In those instances, the game quite ably reminds me of what just occurred. But still, that tiny pea of discontent is enough to make things a little uncomfortable for a little while. Other than that, all is going pretty swell in The Witcher 3.
I’m not exactly sure how many hours I’ve sunk into the game so far, but I feel that I spent a good three-quarters of it doing everything but the main quests. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that, in hindsight, shades of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s Hinterlands were definitely lurking about. In other words, when I’m plopped into a grand, open world with just a few directions and lots of “undiscovered” locales, my first inclination is to start discovering. When I last left off at level 10 in Velen, the game, as I recall, recommended that I be a higher level before taking on the next leg of Geralt’s search for Ciri in Novigrad. While I didn’t really intend to take this as “do everything you can in Velen before moving on,” that’s nearly what happened. I traveled what I could of the map, finding places, fighting monsters, testing Geralt’s powers and my own patience, and gathering up more loot than one witcher could ever need.
As is usually case when I get “lost” in an cycle of meandering in an open-world game, something comes along to help jolt me back to reality. And in the case of The Witcher 3, that jolt came from a comment from VB cohort Hatm0nster: “You might be better-off sticking with main sidequests and the story,” he recommended, “since the busy stuff stops yielding relevant experience after a certain point.” Indeed, while blowing up monster nests and clearing our bandit camps was all well and good, Geralt really did have more important things to do. So I eventually forced myself to let go of exploration for exploration’s sake, and I refocused my efforts.
No matter how far off the beaten track I took Geralt, he remained quite intent on finding Ciri and dealing with the Wild Hunt. This led to him reuniting with Triss Merigold and other friendly faces (so I gathered, having just a passing knowledge of the series’ cast of characters) in Novigrad. Most of Geralt’s efforts centered on finding a bard named Dandelion, which led him to some…um, peculiar places, such as a theatre stage and a crime boss’s parlor of decay. The Witcher 3 is nothing is not frightfully brazen and gratuitous, at times. Even just the scenery alone is enough to either make or break an unbending choice; and I have many times found myself taking in my scanning what’s around Geralt, trying to make sense of it all.
Only then an oddball glitch occurs, and I’m reminded that yes, this is just a game. A truly fantastic and fascinating game, at that.
My latest acquisition is that of Dandelion, who apparently knows something of Ciri’s whereabouts. And while he seems quite trustworthy, I feel that something twisty is bound to get in Geralt’s way. As to what the game wants me to do next, well…it wants me to head to its third major destination, Skellige. Which I could very well do. And maybe that’s what I should do. I should really just ignore to tug of the tantalizingly empty map east of Novigrad because…because the game will likely make me go there soon enough, for something. For Ciri, perhaps? Yes, I will stay focused! FOCUSED, I SAY!
Hey wait, what’s this over here? Oooo, directions to find a plan for an armor upgrade? Hmm, surely we could take a small detour. Yes, a very small detour…
All images (© CD Projekt S.A.) in this article were taken by author during PS4 gameplay of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.