The Continent gets a bit more Continental :
“The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” was my Game of the Year in 2015 – I was blown away by its scope, its fantastic storytelling and its engaging character progression.
The first piece of additional content, Hearts of Stone, was a thrilling twist on what we’ve come to expect from the Witcher 3, and the second (and last) expansion pack – Blood and Wine – is more of this surprising subversion.
As a piece of content as much about vineyards as it is its vampire foes, Blood and Wine is a perfectly named expansion. Moments after booting up the game once you’ve downloaded the new content, Geralt is sent to the beautiful region of Toussaint – an idyllic countryside region that has yet to be touched by the ravages of war – and tasked with a simpler job than we’ve been used to in the main games.
Though the story takes its fair share of interesting twists and turns, and there’s plenty of blood spilled, it is for the most part a pleasantly straightforward and upbeat story compared to the often depressing main game. The newly introduced cast is great fun as well, with most of them being goofy and chivalrous in equal measure. It’s refreshingly tongue-in-cheek, and though the body count is significant in the twenty+ hours it takes to dispatch the title I was always having fun and being entertained.
The Duchess of the region was one of my favourite characters in the expansion, who also inhabits this seemingly split personality. She’s all pomp and circumstance until events call for her to be a bit more badass, and she fittingly fills this role too.
Whilst you’d expect that the core of the Witcher 3 would be left untouched for an expansion, you’d be wrong. Fans who have sunk hundreds of hours into building their perfect Geralt and reaching the end-game wall will be thrilled to hear that Blood and Wine extends and expands on those systems.
Much like Hearts of Stone and it’s the enchantments it brought, Blood and Wine looks to introduce more mechanics on top of the already fit-to-burst character progression system from the core game. In Toussaint you’re able to unlock mutations, which can further customize Geralt to your playstyle and set you apart from other builds. As well as this, the level cap has been raised and there are further upgrade tiers for your Witcher gear. As someone who’d already maxed out Geralt in their previous playthroughs this was great news, and I had plenty of reasons to complete the myriad of side quests and monster hunts in an effort to grab as much experience as possible.
Speaking of side quests, there’s more than enough for any Witcher fan to sink their teeth into, and it all enjoys the wild variety we’ve come to expect from CDPR. The expansions starts brutally fast paced, throwing you into epic battle after epic battle with little room to catch your breath, and it’s a great way to start your monster-cleansing-tour of Toussaint. There’s plenty of tricky fights that test your mastery over the Witcher’s many systems, too, and attempting to mash your way through fights will only leave a beautiful corpse.
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