The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a game that, by most accounts, takes around 70 hours to complete. On my first playthrough, it probably took me over 100. Conjuring the motivation and effort to begin playing a game of such scale and investment is an immense task in itself – yet this is a game I find myself going back to again and again.
For me, no other game this decade has been able to create such a deep, emotional and immersive narrative. The Witcher 3 simultaneously maintains both an expansive and beautifully designed open world, a multitude of genuinely engaging and enjoyable side quests, and a responsive and brutal combat system. Equal fun can be had whether fighting a monster on top of a mountain or simply eavesdropping on NPC conversations in the game’s central city of Novigrad.
This is a game that is undoubtedly able to stand on its own
It remains remarkable to me, considering how invested I have become in this game, that despite this being the third entry in the Witcher series, I have never touched one of its predecessors. Neither, when I first bought the game, was I aware of the extensive book series on which the games are based on. Sure, there are moments when gaps in knowledge allow you to miss a minor in-joke in the franchise, but this is a game that is undoubtedly able to stand on its own for newcomers.
What really holds this game together is how powerfully and consistently it is able to uphold its tone. This is reflected quite magnificently in its soundtrack, which is possibly my favourite from any game ever. The game’s world feels unbelievably authentic and rich – there is even a collectable trading card minigame, Gwent, that I have spent countless hours playing.
The Witcher 3 is a benchmark for the action RPG genre. Since its release in 2015 I cannot think of a game that has managed the replicate its achievements, and I highly doubt a game ever will.