The first 12 critical reviews of The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt

The embargo of the Witcher 3 Wild Hunt reviews is over today and many reviews are already flooding the web. We have summarized the main points and scores here for you. Note that all reviews are for the Playstation 4 version of the game. Reviews of the PC version will be released next week because the PC code and the Big day-one patch are not finalized yet. Hmmm.

First read the summary of the Gamespot review and videoreview which gave it a perfect 10. You can also read the 8 things that reviewers hated about witcher 3.
Overall the reviews are extremely positive. In this roundup however we decided to focus mainly on some weak points. Otherwise this article would have become a boring praise.


IGN Review on PlayStation 4

by Vince Ingenito
This is a trully excellent review that informs us that CD Project Red Achille's heel is still the main story. While in Witcher 2 is was too much politics, in Witcher 3 it is just a search for Ciri.
Overview
Unlike its predecessor, The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt doesn't exactly come screaming off the starting line. Compared to The Witcher 2, where you're immediately plunged headlong into a sexy story of intrigue and betrayal, this main quest can seem mundane, even perfunctory at times. But each time I stepped off the well-beaten path to blaze my own trail, it turned into a wild, open, exhilarating fantasy roleplaying experience, rife with opportunities to make use of its excellent combat. Even after over 100 hours with The Witcher 3, it still tempts me to press on – there’s so much more I want to learn, and hunt.
Performance issues
The one caveat on all that though, is the technical performance on the PS4 version I played for review. 30 frames per second was sometimes too much to ask, transitions between The Witcher 3’s two main maps are just a bit too long, and minor glitches do pop up from time to time.
Main Quest and Story
The main story is ultimately the least fulfilling part of The Witcher 3. You might call it another case of The Elder Scrolls Syndrome. Our tale begins as a multi-continent search for Geralt’s long-lost lover Yennifer, and Ciri, his surrogate daughter. My single biggest issue though, is that it never becomes much more: the overly long main story is essentially just Geralt running errands for people in exchange for information on Ciri’s whereabouts.
Signs
Speaking of Signs, they’ve been improved across the board with alternate casting modes, and a wider variety of upgrades, making them impactful in every fight. It’s actually entirely viable to build a sign-focused Geralt.
Combat
Where combat in this series has up until this point felt vague and even a bit clunky, here it’s so fluid and satisfying that I walk around hoping for bandits to jump me just so I can repel their attacks with magical barriers, parry their blows with uncanny precision, and relieve them of life and/or limb with the occasional gory flourish. The Witcher has always done a great job of making me feel that I’ve outsmarted my foes, but for the first time here, controlling Geralt feels tangibly badass with every successful fight.
Conclusion
Though the straightforward and fetch-quest-heavy main story overstays its welcome, the option of joyfully adventuring through a rich, expansive open world was always there for me when I’d start to burn out. Even if the plot isn’t terribly interesting, the many characters who play a part in it are, and along with the excellent combat and RPG gameplay, they elevate The Witcher 3 to a plane few other RPGs inhabit.

Gamesradar

By Phil Iwaniuk
Overview
To really enjoy what’s laid out in front of you in the marshlands, forests and settlements of Velen, first you need to forget everything you know about The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt. The ‘Skyrim killer’; the ultimate open-world RPG; the game delayed by its developer to ensure your adventure is so polished you can see your delighted simper in its every frame.

In truth, Geralt Of Rivia’s PlayStation debut isn’t any of those things. And while thankfully that doesn’t preclude it from being immensely enjoyable in its own right, it’s an issue you and I need to address right now. Because your journey through the opening hours of The Witcher 3, like mine, will be flavoured more by the discovery of what it isn’t than any narrative exposition or horseback escapade.
Open World?
Perhaps still more telling is that you rarely get distracted while roaming the land. There’s simply very little to distract you with – perhaps a pack of wolves, or a treasure marker, but not enough for you to weave your own anecdotes borne of spontaneous goings-on. Lush as it is in vegetation, Velen feels curiously barren of intrigue and activity when you’re not questing.

At a certain point, you’re just going to have to fall in line with what The Witcher 3 wants you to do. And at that point – not before it – you’ll start having tremendous fun. Because what the game actually is, marketing bluster torn away, is an extraordinary narrative-driven role-player full of well-woven quests and sparkly dialogue, that’s placed noncommittally between linear and open-world designs. Stop trying to play it like Skyrim (the game CD Projekt RED took many a swipe at during the run up to release) and you’ll quickly see why, despite some sizeable flaws, it’s still capable of coaxing you into hundreds of hours of beast-slaying play.
Verdict
A great game, undoubtedly, but a different game to the one many were expecting. And in an industry that places such enormous emphasis on pre-order sales, the manner in which a game presents itself in the months prior to launch matters. CDP RED did previously state that Skellige wasn’t accessible via real-time travel, but have referred to The Witcher 3 as an open-world game from the start. It’s been equally keen
to draw Skyrim comparisons, and was sonorously vocal about games releasing in a sub-optimal state following its most recent delay. It is, simply, hoist by its own petard.

It’s a game that’s effectively talked itself out of a recommendation in every PlayStation gamer’s collection, by the narrowest margin, but still deserves recognition as one of the deepest and most involving narrative-lead RPGs of the current generation – an accolade it’s likely to hold for some time to come.
The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt reviews

Kotaku

By Kirk Hamilton
Story
Because Wild Hunt’s story is a culmination of two previous games and a whole collection of short stories and novels, it can be dense and difficult to follow. Game of Thrones’ recent popularity has given the general public a higher threshold for complex, politically driven fantasy narratives, but Wild Hunt feels like hopping into the middle of Storm of Swords without any preamble or hand-holding. I’m familiar with Witcher lore, but I often found myself saying, “Wait, who?” before pausing the game and referring to in-game character descriptions to catch up with what the hell was going on.

It can feel as though Wild Hunt requires the player to maintain a cheat-sheet just to keep a handle on who’s who. To wit: There is a character named Ermion and another character named Eredin, joined by yet another character named Emyr. All three are major players who are important to the narrative, and Geralt and his friends often refer to more than one of them in a single sentence. While it would be easy for characters to refer to Emyr as “Emperor Emyr,” which would greatly help clarify things, he’s frequently just referred to as “Emyr.”
Geralt - the Hero
Despite its grand scope and substantial cast of characters, Wild Hunt is a lonesome game.

Through all of that, Geralt rides alone. He enters each new village or encampment atop his horse, and every time, the moment feels iconic. Here is the lone swordfighter, the mysterious stranger, coming to bring justice.

I’ve always liked Geralt of Rivia. I never finished the first Witcher game, but I’ve played its terrific (if flawed) sequel a number of times, and I’m charmed by the taciturn monster-hunter in the title. On paper, Geralt is a mishmash of every male empowerment archetype you can imagine. He’s part Jedi, part Batman, part Kwai Chang Caine, part Don Juan, and part Solid Snake. He has eyes like a cat and awesome white hair. He is both the greatest swordsman and the ablest lover to walk the earth.

Yet thanks to some spry, consistent writing and a fine voice-over performance by actor Doug Cockle, Geralt feels like a consistently believable, three-dimensional person. Geralt helps The Witcher games stand apart from role-playing games that let you create and customize your own character, picking your race, gender, backstory, and disposition. Here, you’re playing as Geralt of Rivia. You may help choose which decisions he makes, but he remains his own man.
Performance
In combat, however, things can get jerkier, particularly when a bunch of characters are fighting on screen at once. When the shit really starts to hit the fan toward the end of the game, the developers’ technological ambitions finally overwhelm the PS4’s capabilities, and the frame-rate and responsiveness become a real problem. This only happened to me a few times, but it did detract. When the frame-rate begins to fluctuate, it becomes harder to feel as connected to Geralt’s movements, which can obviously be a problem in tougher encounters. I’ve yet to play the PC version of Wild Hunt, which will likely benefit from a steadier, higher frame-rate.
Interface
I’m also hopeful that the PC interface will improve inventory management, which is a real mess in the console version. As you make your way through Wild Hunt, Geralt will accumulate more quests, sidequests, crafting items, herbs, books, notes, monster parts, and upgrade materials than any reasonable human being could know what to do with. So it’s a problem that Wild Hunt’s menus are so convoluted and unwieldy—it takes ages to scroll through your inventory to find whatever object may be necessary for a given task, particularly if you’re in the habit of hoovering up every book and magical item you come across.

By the end of the game, the “usable items” tab of my inventory looked like this

Metro

By Roger Hargreaves
Overview
It takes four or five hours, but eventually The Witcher’s own personality begins to shine through – as well as your own influence on the world. Choosing to rescue a villager from a gang of thieves or curing a sick herbalist isn’t just a case of earning experience points and then moving on. Your actions can alter everything from the prices in shops and the side quests available, to whether a town is prematurely invaded. But so too can everything from the weather to the time of day, creating what is arguably the most believable and interactive video game world ever seen.

It’s also one of the most attractive, although again we suspect many will be slightly disappointed at first – as a result of watching too many trailers that are clearly taken from the PC version. But the console versions still look great, with the epic landscapes enhanced by some excellent art design and good use of colour. There are a lot of screen-tearing and frame rate issues though, as well as other random bugs. The inevitable day one patch is claimed to fix them all but, well… we’re sure you’ve heard that one before.

In terms of pure gameplay the most consistently enjoyable element is unquestionably the monster hunting – encounters with larger foes which are so dangerous that you have to research and plan well in advance. Lures have to be created, lairs recced, and information sources pumped for information on weak points. Some of these steps can be skipped if you’re foolhardy, but not only are these some of the toughest battles in the game, but the sense of anticipation your careful planning creates works extremely well at increasing the tension.
Final Score
In Short: A colossal achievement in technical terms, with a level of interaction with the game world and its inhabitants that is unsurpassed in modern video games.
Pros: Huge open world environment with a staggering level of detail, and interactivity – where your every decision really does matter. Excellent graphics and great monster hunts.
Cons: The opening few hours cover a lot of familiar territory if you’ve played other, similar games. Combat is solid but never remarkable. Lots of bugs and graphical issues pre-release.
Score: 9/10

Impulse Gamer

By Andrew Bistak
Curiosities
The weather system is also quite realistic such as when the world starts going dark because there is a storm coming or nightfall is coming. It’s quite realistic. Then you have the characters themselves who move with this real-world grace and the attention to detail on both the characters and the cutscenes is pretty much flawless. Another cool element of the game is that Geralt even grows a beard and that his hair does start getting dirty on adventures.

However by visiting a barber, you can get your beard cut and even your hair but as you progress, so does the dynamic hair growth system. Cutscenes also flawlessly merge with the gameplay and the environments do have this great 3D atmosphere to it, especially when you near the mountains. To complement the excellent graphics, the voice acting of The Witcher 3 is perfect, especially Doug Cooke as Geralt of Rivia.

Pocket-Lint

By Mike Lowe
Overview
For role-playing game fans it's only once in a blue moon a title comes along that's so engrossing you'll willingly surrender not just a little bit of time to play it, but days and weeks of your life. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a prime example; a captivating game that, for our money, is the best RPG since Skyrim.

But, if anything, it's a little bit more grown-up that 2011 Bethesda epic. There's a lot more f-ing and blinding for starters, the occasional c-bomb included. And much more blood. Oh, and let's not forget the smattering of nudity and sex. Yep, Witcher 3's adult themes are quickly established from the moment the camera lingers on a bare derrière mere minutes into the game. Yet - and despite that reading like an apparent Hollywood "sex, blood, swearing, - buy, buy, buy!" kind of campaign - it's not gratuitous, rather more representative of a believable world. Y'know, one where mages and magic are a normality.
Control
Controlling Geralt doesn't feel as smooth as playing, say, Grand Theft Auto 5, nor is there the deftness of Assassin's Creed when it comes to jumping gaps or climbing. But those are entirely different games, ones we've played enough of and enjoyed for what they are.
Verdict
We've spent a lot of time playing The Witcher 3. Enough time to spot some of its minor niggles and irks; enough time to reflect on its imperfect moments; yet enough time to forget what day of the week it is in the real world - because that's how engrossing this game is.

We can forgive a dodgy camera angle here, a bit too much nipple there, or even a misbehaving horse bumping into yet another tree, because all those other glimmering moments of brilliance amount to something greater.

You needn't be a diehard fantasy fan either: the massive world, gorgeous landscapes, balanced gameplay, detailed quests and story are all compelling enough to hook you in and keep you there. Just be prepared to sacrifice your normal life because you'll be scratching around trying to find the dozens of extra hours you'll want to spend playing it.

If you're a fan of Fallout, Skyrim, or any Witcher game before it, then The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a must buy. As real-time role-playing games go there are few better.

The Verge

Review by "New Player" Andrew Webster
There's a lot going on in the game, as this all happens against the backdrop of a war and a prophecy that the appearance of The Hunt signifies the end of days. There are two previous games and multiple books' worth of backstory and lore, but even still Wild Hunt is remarkably welcoming to new players — don't let that three in the title fool you. I've never played a Witcher game before, and I was able to ease into the world with little problem. There are plenty of optional ways to catch up, whether it's the in-game encyclopedia or just conversations with other characters. But you don't have to do any of this: the core story is simple enough to understand even if you have no knowledge of the game's universe. You might not know every name mentioned, but you'll get by just fine.

Part of this has to do with the way the game is structured. Instead of one giant, epic quest, Wild Hunt feels more like a collection of short stories. Each quest is like its own self-contained thing that also, usually, connects back to the main story. Like in every other RPG, everyone you'll encounter wants something from you, whether it's the mage who can't perform a spell until you find his lost goat, or the townsfolk who won't give you any information until you kill that pesky, hen-eating werewolf. But Wild Hunt feels different because virtually every quest has a fascinating story nested within its objective. You're still doing relatively straightforward things like killing monsters and tracking down thieves, but they always feel like more than simple fetch quests.

I was actually very intimidated when I first started playing Wild Hunt. Not only was I unfamiliar with the franchise, but the developers have said that it can take upwards of 100 hours to complete, depending on how deep you want to dig. That's just a huge number; I love RPGs, but I don't have a few dozen hours to spare. I managed to finish the game in somewhere between 30 and hours, and I don't really feel like I missed out on anything. There was plenty of stuff I avoided — I didn't spend much time on alchemy or crafting, and there's a trading card game I skipped completely — but I’m still entirely satisfied by the experience. The fact that The Witcher 3 feels like a collection of quests rather than one huge epic makes it easier to pick and choose what you want to do, without a terrible case of FOMO.

In fact, I’ve made sure to keep a save file from before the end game kicks in. I don’t need to experience this lengthy game again, but already I can feel the urge to go for a quick horse ride through the forests in the north. The only thing I don’t know is what I’ll find when I get there.

Stuff

by Tom Parsons
Preparion for Bosses
It’s the killing of nasty monsters that’s the bread and butter of any witcher worth his salt, and hunting your prey is more involved and interesting than before, frequently involving using witcher senses to find clues and track footprints or smells. The enemies are frequently truly, utterly revolting - wraiths with lolling tongues that would make Gene Simmons blush, and demon-babies wrapped in their own umbilical cords - but once you know what you’re up against you can use the bestiary to discover what its weaknesses are and prepare the relevant potions, bombs and magical “signs”.

Thankfully the preparation process is a bit more streamlined than in the previous games. Once you’ve brewed a potion once, it’s automatically restocked every time you meditate, and signs, bombs and other usable items (including the new crossbow) are available via radial pop-up whenever you like.
Verdict
Bigger than Skyrim and with more character, The Witcher 3 is a new RPG benchmark
Gorgeous open world packed with interesting stuff
Fast, fluid and varied combat
Intriguing story
Gory, scary and witty in pretty equal measure

Gametrailers (video review)

by Daniel Bloodworth
Overview
After spending a week with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, playing day and night, we’re left questioning just how this game is even possible. It’s not without a few rough spots, but it consistently impresses with complex branching stories, challenging combat and wondrous creature designs, all in a stunning and enormous world that feels as if every corner has had a close, personal touch.
Performance problems
Unfortunately, in our time with the pre-release PS4 version, the game’s performance is somewhat rough around the edges. We ran into a few bugs, elements awkwardly loading in and choppy framerates in particularly demanding areas like the bogs. The developers are working on fixes to go into place before release and beyond, so the experience will improve, but even in its current state, the annoyances caused by these rough spots feel minimal compared to the sense of wonder that permeates throughout.
Verdict
After spending more than 100 hours in The Witcher 3, we’re still left with dozens of side quests to complete, enormous tracts of land left to explore, and monsters yet to fight. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a thoughtful, diverse, and frequently awe-inspiring adventure. Its stories are deep and satisfying, unafraid to touch on themes of personal character, presenting players with choices and consequences that aren’t about turning into a hero or a villain. In the end, it’s quite simply one of the best RPGs ever made.

MMGN

by Ben Salter
Overview
The Witcher 3 is a remarkably rare game that captured my ambition to continuously achieve more in its world. It has demanded more play time across a fortnight than any other game this generation, and while I pushed through the core story knowing this deadline was looming, I still feel I’ve only scratched the surface of Geralt’s culmination. There’s so much I didn’t see; didn’t do; so much I could have done differently. I’ve lived and breathed The Witcher 3 for the past two weeks, yet I’m seriously considering getting another copy come May 19 and tackling the mountainous task of doing it all again on an even more involved scale. This is not a game to be rushed, but one that will irreparably dismantle your social life for its duration.
Combat
Combat has been reworked from past games to better suit the open world. It mixes close combat – with the standard light and heavy attacks joined by dodges and parries – with a selection of magic abilities taught to young Witchers. It’s complemented by potions, which are almost entirely optionally if alchemy doesn’t appeal to your senses, and a ranged crossbow. How you choose to fight is largely dependant upon which of the magic abilities, the Witcher Signs, you grow to rely upon. They’re all available from the beginning and enhanced by character development points, leaving some favoured above others. For mine, shooting fire and controlling minds is far more important than setting traps or employing a shield.

The basic combat seems simple at first, as uncompetitive foes are thwarted by casual button-mashing. But as Signs become more prevalent and you learn the nuance of when to absorb and when to unleash the dance becomes more involved. Counter-attacking is a weapon that must be controlled, and quite difficult against divergent humans and monsters that want your head. Geralt insists on more than one occasion that it’s not the sword but the hand that wields it. I’m not so sure. Finding, buying and crafting new gear, both weapons and armour, bodes for a much greater chance of success, but like potions, crafting only rewards players willing to put in. Strong swords and useful runes are found without venturing off the beaten path, but the best work of blacksmiths isn’t handed to Geralt on a silver platter.
Verdict
Games this taxing often carry a sense of pride in their fulfilment, but are so time consuming the end comes as a welcome blessing. But I want to play The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt again, from the beginning, to do things differently. It’s enthralled me like few action role-playing games can, and its immense story, shaped by my decisions, was worth the investment. The Witcher 3 demands it become the centrepiece of leisure time for the duration of its conquests, something few games this generation have been able to do. The combat, fantasy and role-playing elements are decent as individual entities, but become something special when combined. The Witcher 2 was acclaimed for its time, but nows appears merely as the practice exam. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the epic game CD Projekt Red has been building towards, and it deserves top billing as the highlight of 2015 thus far.

Xbox achievements

By Lee Bradley
Overview
The Witcher 2 wasn’t perfect. Despite my glowing review, I still identified a wishlist of improvements I would have loved to see in a sequel. Broadly speaking they were; a more focused story in which Geralt has more agency, more being a witcher (monster hunting), and a larger world. Fast forward three years and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has delivered on every single one of my “make it bigger and better please” desires in a spectacular manner. A huge improvement over its predecessor, it's an easy contender for best RPG of the year.

The Witcher 3 is, essentially, a story about parenthood. With Geralt once more taking centre stage, the game follows his attempts to track down Ciri - a young woman he considers to be his daughter. But Geralt’s not the only one on the trail of this mysteriously powerful girl. The Wild Hunt, a procession of powerful magical warriors on horseback, are also in pursuit. Geralt must find Ciri quickly, or risk losing her forever. The desperation of Geralt’s search is made all the more poignant by the frequent flashbacks in which you take control of Ciri, showing just how close yet out of reach she is.
Verdict
Despite its vast scope, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt tells a personal, intimate and touching story, filled with characters you’ll love and hate, and stuffed with monsters to slay. I completed the main storyline in around 50 hours and - yes I know this is a cliche - I’ve barely scratched the surface. The Witcher 3 is an astounding achievement.

Gamereactor

By Gillen McAllister
Fighting Monsters
The diversity of situations couple with one other fact: enemies don't level with you. While accepted quests signpost danger through a suggested XP level to be at before commencing, you've no such warning when stumbling on dangers that populate the countryside. We encountered a griffin on a mountainside ramble that killed us with one hit. We took ten minutes downing a gigantic Fiend at the end of one main quest mission and felt a badass, only to be knocked on our ass during a brawl with two looters half hour later. Get stuck in the middle of a group of Dwellers and your health bar can be torn into ribbons in seconds. The game keeps you on your toes.

There's an important element to combat that while theoretically one of the game's better assets, is crippled by an obtuse menu system and lacklustre tutorial. Conceptually preparation is a big part of surviving Witcher. You're supposed to prepare for battles by studying menu bestiaries that suggest potions and sword oils that targets are weak against. Ideally it gets you invested in the world's lore, even in actuality its just equipping buffs as a quicker way of ending fights.

Potions, oils and upgrades need to be crafted first. As in most RPGs, materials are sourced from looting chests and bodies around the world, gathering herbs from the countryside. Thanks to the abundance of diversions the world offers, sourcing, say, the ingredients for a monster poison, could lead you to a number of fun sub-missions. Diving into lakes to pick underwater weeds, ransacking underground ruins for ingredients, tracking another monster to kill it for mutagens - there's plenty to do.

But it doesn't work like that. We needed Wolfsbane to poison an otherwise quickly-healing werewolf. We have no clue of where it'd likely grow (hillside? By a lake? In a forest?), and the only herbalist who might sell some was a long ride away. And that was a "might", leading to a lengthy detour. Elsewhere we wanted to forge armour from schematics we found, but needed Dark Plates to finish the build. We had to find a blacksmith and painstakingly go through our collected wares one by one to see if any could be dismantled to source the material, and when that yielded nothing, we had to hope to stumble on some by chance along the way. "Needle in a haystack" comes to mind. Some pointers - general areas that you'll find what's needed - would have been of huge benefit.

The menu system doesn't cater for easy management or custom lists, and while we're deep into the double-dights in our hours playing, we're still confused by it. The result is we're left feeling like we're missing an important element of the game, and combat devolves into a slow slugfest as we chip away at enemy health knowing we could be better equipped and therefore have a better chance of survival.
Geralt
Wild Hunt's a game brimming with diverse, involving content. That we don't feel as emotionally connected to Geralt as we would Red Dead's John Marston or Joel and Ellie in Last of Us may be an issue intrinsic to the fantasy genre with its clear separation from the real world, or that this is a character whose personality and relationships comes with two games' worth of baggage.