Spoiler-free, of course!
As of writing, I have about ten hours invested across the PlayStation 4 and PC versions of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. If I’ve come away with one thing thus far, it’s that the claims about the game being 200 hours long are entirely warranted. From the plethora of dialogue options, to the vast wilderness to explore, to the in depth yet surprisingly simple table top minigame, the only time you’ll be sitting around twiddling your thumbs is while trying to decide which of your overwhelming array of choices to try next.
Also, it’s pretty.
On the PS4, I was impressed by the visuals of The Witcher 3. In my opinion it overtakes The Last of Us and Bloodborne in graphical fidelity, both of which are beautiful games in their own right. Performance-wise, I encountered slight stuttering during some conversations and cutscenes, but it wasn’t enough to detract from what was going on. I did also encounter a strange water glitch that turned most of the water against the shore an empty black. Reloading the game didn’t immediately fix it, but it did not persist when I ventured away to quest and then returned to the coast later, so it was only a temporary and minor bug.
The load times are fair, and there are none I have encountered while traversing the open landscape, but loads can get lengthy when traveling to a new county/province or booting up the game. Thankfully, during start up the game gives you a narrated recap of your story so far, complete with great illustrations that are reminiscent of the original Infamous’. Additionally, the loads are still nothing compared to Bloodborne’s original load times, another thing for which I am thankful.
The only other occasional issue I had with the PS4 version of the game was interacting with items or loot. The button prompt is very particular about where you’re standing and looking. This, combined with Geralt’s relatively imprecise handling, lead to several frustrating moments standing next to some goodies and being unable to steal–I mean borrow–them without fiddling around with the controller. Not a game-breaking issue, but annoying enough that I felt worth mentioning since it wasn’t something I encountered on the PC version.
On PC, the load times are quicker and the visuals slightly crisper with my settings, but as my video settings are mostly medium/high, it’s hardly noticeable. The graphics options are extensive, so you can tailor the options to your machine fairly well. Aside from my recently acquired GTX 960, my PC is comprised of parts that are 2-4 years old, so it’s by no means a current high end machine. You can check out my system specs here. I’ll give you a rundown of my general performance, but keep in mind that I’ve only checked it while streaming to Twitch, so these numbers will presumably be slightly higher without that extra system drain.
In pre-rendered cutscenes, I was seeing an average of 19 FPS, which is pretty bad, but once you pass the beginning of the story, cutscenes come, for the most part, in the form of conversations and are therefore in-engine. For the rest of my time playing, I was pulling a consistent average of 40 frames, dropping to 32-35 in combat with multiple foes. Both are completely acceptable ranges for my system and the resources being used.
I feel it’s also important to note that I had no crashes or start up issues during my few hours of PC play. Once I’ve gotten through a significant amount of the game and compile my full review, I’ll be sure to include my performance results properly.
For a mighty Witcher, [Geralt] turns rather imprecisely, rounding out his steps as opposed to simply turning sharply and quickly.
The rest of my experience has been consistent across platforms. The story is engaging, even to one such as myself who isn’t familiar with The Witcher lore. The characters are likeable, though not Mass Effect levels of restart-hours-of-progress-to-save-one-character likeable, but I empathize with them well enough. The beginning of the main questline hands you cutscenes, conversations, and crime scene investigations more than combat, although it’s not dull by any means. Any cabin fever you’re feeling can be relieved with a romp through the woods, perhaps to liberate a few villages overrun by ghouls and wraiths.
The minimal gripes I have with movement and combat stem from Geralt’s handling. For a mighty Witcher, he turns rather imprecisely, rounding out his steps as opposed to simply turning sharply and quickly. This is a minor complaint, as he’s still very nimble in combat while dodging and rolling. The Witcher 3 also has a lock on mechanic for all platforms, but I found myself doing without it on PC. It was marginally helpful on PS4, but that’s probably accountable to my lack of skill with a controller. Combat is satisfying, though I can’t help agreeing with GamingWithMack that I’ve been spoiled by the absolute delight that is Shadow of Mordor’s combat system, and The Witcher 3 pales a bit in comparison.
Minor complaints aside, I find myself itching to return to the game to further explore and see what The Wild Hunt has in store for me. If you have an older PC and won’t mind missing out on future mods, I recommend picking up the console version; it’s nearly as pretty as PC, and aside from the occasional longer load time, performance is great. If you’re a fan of The Witcher series or other open world RPGs, I recommend giving The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt a go.
If you’re still unsure, feel free to leave a comment or tweet with any questions you may have, I’ll be happy to help you out!
I’ll also be streaming my PC gameplay all week on twitch.tv/dawnbrkrgaming, so feel free to drop by if you’re curious to see it in action.
Screenshots captured on the PlayStation 4.
The PS4 version of the game is being reviewed with a key supplied by EvolvePR.
For details on release dates and other related info, head to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s game page.