The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Xbox One) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 11.09.2021

Review for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on Xbox One

Loosely based on stories by a polish writer, The Witcher is a trilogy of games that gained momentum over each release culminating in near-perfect scores for the third game. Naturally, its PC release was followed by a set of console ports to the PS4 and Xbox One, both of which performed as best as they could. Then in 2017, developer CD Projekt Red went back on its word (it was mentioned there wouldn't be "pro" console patches), and produced an enhanced mode for both PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, touting a more stable framerate and higher resolutions. This is apparently also being expanded to take advantage of the new PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles too!

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an expansive ARPG that sees Geralt of Rivia taking on his biggest challenges yet. The Hunt is slaughtering towns and chasing down Geralt's "Daughter" Ciri for a mysterious reason that becomes clear through the adventure. Geralt needs to somehow get a step ahead of them to find her, and through the whole beginning of the game he is many steps behind, and everyone he encounters bargains with him over information about Ciri. It's a thrilling ride through multiple regions in a semi-open world full of wonder and danger. CD Projekt has designed an absolutely wondrous world, with colourful inhabitants and fantastically natural-looking environments, with gusts of wind blowing through trees and grass, alongside beautiful water with physically based waves that rock boats and smash shores.

Screenshot for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on Xbox One

Gameplay on the Xbox controller is mapped as you would expect for an action title with light and heavy attacks on X and Y respectively. There are very low response times, meaning the controls don't feel laggy, making the combat feel more fair and springy. Combat in the Witcher is fairly simple, with some hack 'n' slash elements alongside a simple magic system - Signs - the depth comes less from partaking in the combat, and more from preparing for fights. Collecting herbs, brewing potions, finding information, and setting traps all play into the bigger monster hunts. Everything is balanced and detailed. For example drinking potions increase stats, but at the same time these are a limited resource, not just because of ingredients to make them being scarce, but due to toxicity, which is the level of toxins taken in by Geralt when talking potions - and if maxed out it can kill him. Therefore it is important to pick the potions carefully for each mission to maximise buffs and defences for whatever beast is lurking in the darkness.

The gameplay is complimented and grounded by the insanely detailed world design. Along with the aspects mentioned above, the game has a vast array of varied terrain, all of which featuring neat little hidden coves, lakes, swampland, and in general a good sense of verticality. Exploring the cities and towns is staggering, especially considering the age of the game. It feels decidedly European, yet totally otherworldly, with quaint little medieval towns and sprawling areas of swamp or forest populated with people, animals and monsters. One of the most frightening realisations in the world is that nowhere is safe. Even the water, the oh so beautifully rendered water, is full of drowners, treasures and untold horrors. Visually everything is amazingly alive. The world is coated in foliage that is all affected by some form of global wind system meaning that there is rarely a scene where everything is completely still. NPCs have an amazing variation of animations, keeping the towns alive and even deep dark caves have their own dark damp plant life, and atmospheric fog.

Screenshot for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on Xbox One

Naturally as with The Witcher 2, there is a plethora of side-quests, many with insane levels of detail rivalling even the main questline. These give the world much needed depth, lore, and flavour. Some side-quests even have multiple outcomes supported by their own cut-scenes, all of which highlight the love the developers had for the world they were building. Most if not all of these side-quests involve a hefty amount of travelling, and with such a big detailed map it's hard to imagine not getting pulled into many other situational side-quests while travelling from point to point. This isn't a Ubisoft open world, so there aren't many "go here, collect this" type map points. Instead, the quest and world design sensibilities seem focussed on world-building rather than filling the place with a ton of collectibles, or A-B delivery quests.

Screenshot for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on Xbox One

The central gameplay loop involves data collection - what's being hunted and where to find it. Planning, what is it weak against, how to damage it, and the best weapons to use. Preparation, crafting potions to deal with poisons, night sight and more, placing traps and picking the right time of day to attack. Attack, taking the creature or enemy on. It's a very detailed and methodical gameplay setup that compliments the world and the character of Geralt. Crafting potions comes with many benefits and disadvantages, for example the toxicity of potions needs to be accounted for as it limits the number of potions Geralt can take before he dies from overdosing. Even simple things like following tracks and scoping out nests is thrilling and really ups the believability of each hunt. The quests that require the full loop of gameplay are definitely the highlights of the game.

Visually Witcher 3 is an absolute feast. With the Xbox One X patch it runs at a much higher resolution than it released with, highlighting the amazing modelling and animation work in the environments and characters. This patch also sees the framerate stabilising meaning this not only looks cleaner, but it's more responsive and has less visual jumping and stuttering. The modelling work on the characters still holds up today - heck it often outdoes CDPR's CyberPunk 2077 in terms of nuanced character interactions. The texture work and designs of armour, clothing, and other character objects are fantastic for realising the sort of world the characters live in. The world has a life of its own with flowing waters, trees whipping back and forth in the northern winds, wildlife scampering around the area, and lovely little settlements each with their own afflictions. There's also a large helping of unique landmarks that add local flavours to each area of the map; one of the best being the giant witching tree in the swamps housing an unspeakable malevolent being that plays heavily into a side-quest.

Screenshot for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is an amazing triumph of fantasy world design. It successfully pairs fast action gameplay with slower methodical planning and preparation moments, as well as having an incredibly fun main storyline with plentiful side quests. At this point the game has been out for a long time, but it is highly recommended that it is on anyone's lists especially if they missed the boat on the original release. In a word, fantastic.

Developer

CD Projekt Red Studio

Publisher

CD Projekt Red Studio

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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