The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – a fantasy RPG with a character-driven, non-linear story set in an open world, featuring meaningful player choices, tactical combat and rich, living environments.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the final installment of the highly-acclaimed modern RPG saga. The CD Projekt RED team has set out to make The Witcher 3 a richer, larger, and deeper experience - a breakthrough in quality that will take the franchise to its ultimate heights. A masterwork of storytelling and gameplay, The Witcher 3 is everything an RPG fan could crave.
With The Witcher 1 and 2, CD Projekt RED has produced robust, high-quality, modern RPGs, winning broad acclaim and earning a loyal following. The Witcher 3 honors these roots, combining CD Projekt RED’s storytelling flair with new game mechanics and, most notably, a vast, open, living world. A mature game cast in dark shades of gray with no divisions between good and evil, it features a non-linear story with tough choices that produce real consequences. The game’s vibrant world ravaged by war plunges players into difficult dilemmas and gripping adventures. This vast universe brings a new philosophy of exploration to the Witcher series: horseback riding and sailing prove crucial to any journey, and the communities the player encounters resonate with problems, conflicts, friends and foes. Added features like Witcher Senses and Monster Hunting, improved Alchemy, magic Signs, Crafting, as well as many other innovations, make The Witcher 3 the quintessential RPG experience, a must-play for fans of the genre.
The world is in chaos. The air is thick with tension and the smoke of burned villages. The fearsome Empire of Nilfgaard has struck again, ravaging the hapless Northern Kingdoms. The once-mighty who tried to use Geralt for their own gain are now gone. In these uncertain times, no one can say what future holds in store, who will bring peace to the world and who will cause it only misery.
But a force darker and deadlier emerges. The petty men and women commanding tin-plated armies fail to understand that their conflict is child’s play compared to the Wild Hunt, the otherworldly threat which now looms. These ghastly spectral riders have plagued the world for ages, plunging it in misery and despair. Yet this time the Wild Hunt seeks one person in particular: the one bestowed upon Geralt by Destiny itself, the one soul Geralt considers kin.
The Witcher 3 features over 100 hours of non-linear gameplay, nearly half of which is devoted to the immersive main storyline, a narrative focusing on Geralt and those closest to him. None of this is automatically generated - both core and side quests are handmade with meticulous care, meaningfully weaved into the vibrant game universe. Forming or supporting the main and secondary storylines, they draw players into engaging, intricately-crafted adventures extending across the rich, living world.
Non-linearity is a core feature of the game, with player choices branching the adventures from the main storyline on multiple levels, from entire sub-stories, to trivial everyday matters. Saving a miller’s son from a wyvern attack may affect who will ultimately don a crown, while thwarting a plot to assassinate a noble lord could spell doom for his oppressed subjects.
Quests may be taken on in any order, completed one at a time or pursued in parallel with others. Regardless of the method, player actions will bring many consequences that change the story and affect the game world. These consequences culminate in three completely different playable epilogues set in one of twelve possible unique world states. Defined by the outcome of climactic events and the fate of key NPCs, these states provide a total of 36 different possible endings.
Choice and consequence, the former difficult and often grim, the latter delayed until a key moment, is a concept CD Projekt RED devised and developed into its key contribution to the genre. The core of CD Projekt RED’s RPG philosophy, this concept was the backbone of The Witcher 1 and 2. Naturally, choice features prominently in the story, as well as all game mechanics, of The Witcher 3. With the 'lesser evil' as a key concept, the story puts players before situations in which there is no clear good: do you help an alderman enchain all the village elves he claims are secretly working for the Scoia’tael, or do you stop him at the risk of enabling outsiders to storm the gates and letting outlaws in the city to massacre all the humans? Such hard choices are complemented by the interactivity of dialogue, letting players choose how they speak to other characters, how they shape their relationships, thus determining how NPCs treat them in return.
Each action impacts the story and the game world. NPCs, communities, monsters and locations all change based on player choice - you may rid a fishing village of drowners and watch its economy prosper, or kill a merchant in one town and see his trading partners in another go bankrupt for lack of goods.
A choice once made resonates, its effects both immediate and delayed. Revisit a location where an important story juncture played out, and you’re sure to find it transformed by your previous actions. Similarly, a choice made in one corner of the world, pertaining to specific characters, could well breed consequences in other lands, among other populations.
The setting for Geralt’s greatest adventure? A vast, rich, completely open world, thirty-five times larger than that in The Witcher 2. By setting the game in this open world, CD Projekt RED has fulfilled its vision of the RPG, adding the last element needed to create complete immersion and true non-linearity.
Wide open roaming across regions is unspoiled by load times. Landscapes dotted with Points of Interest tempt players to venture off beaten paths in search of possible adventure. Players explore without interruption, encountering no barriers, choosing different means of travel to reach their destination. This whole new approach to exploration means players can vault over barriers, swim through rapids, ride a horse across the dangerous No Man’s Land, run through Novigrad’s narrow streets, or sail under a full moon amidst the Skellige Islands. The world provides an unprecedented feeling of open space and freedom, taking 40 minutes to traverse on horseback end to end. Players can stand atop a mountain, 1200 meters above sea level, breathless as they ponder the distant abyss and wind-swept isles, their look and feel rendered flawlessly.
The world of The Witcher 3 is vast and continuous, yet diverse, with each of its lands distinguishable by a unique feel inspired by different sources and cultural references:
- No Man’s Land: a sparsely populated, war-ravaged territory, based on Slavic mythology. Murky swamps and dark primeval forests cover this land, where monsters lurk behind every tree and no one can be sure whether they will see another sunrise. Its fields stripped bare by passing armies, No Man’s Land is a place of anarchy, where might makes right and gold buys life.
- Skellige: a wind-swept and rugged archipelago, based on Nordic and Celtic legends and sagas. In these isles, inhabited by proud and noble people, warriors seek fame by facing legendary monsters, druids guard nature’s secrets, and bards sing of heroes past in torch-lit halls. Stubbornly independent, the Skelligers are rig their longboats and sharpen their spears, ready to lay down their lives defending against the inevitable Nilfgaard invasion.
- Novigrad and its surroundings: a port city inspired by medieval Amsterdam. In this grand city, as rich and colorful as it is corrupt, players witness the persecution of mages by an all-powerful cult, while at the same time dealing with underworld figures poised to profit from the ongoing world war.
Player actions, whatever their apparent weight, elicit reactions. This principle extends to the new in game economic system, with the price of goods varying based on the surrounding conditions or their place of origin versus Geralt’s current whereabouts in the world: the price of fish will differ depending on the distance from water, a village of trappers and hunters will have many tanneries and leather workers, affecting the price of crafting components and armor.
Left to itself, the world continues living:
- Predators hunt their prey, villages defend themselves against monsters, lovers meet by moonlight.
- Communities react to temperature changes and other phenomena, seeking shelter when it rains or warmth when the temperature drops; they migrate to fulfill their needs or flee threats, while merchant caravans fill the roads and fishermen sail in search of the best catch.
- REDengine 3 incorporates location ambience and expanded dynamic lighting, which enables a realistic, highly-detailed day and night cycles as well as diverse weather conditions - players can observe an approaching storm before experiencing its might as they navigate a rough stretch of sea.