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The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine Review: Closing Time

/ Jul 21st, 2016 No Comments

The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine Review

Gamers tend to have weird expectations for downloadable expansion packs and DLC, and the reason for this may be because the concept is relatively new and still a bit nebulous. It is hard to know what kind of content to expect and how the quality will stack up to the full game.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of the best games in recent memory, and this can create some unrealistic expectations for DLC. However, The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine, the final expansion for the game, delivers an adventure as gratifying as Wild Hunt, albeit on a slightly smaller scale.

Related: The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine and The Importance of Side Quests

There has been a ton of DLC released over the last decade, but the final expansion to The Witcher 3 stands out among the best. As an expansion, Blood and Wine is better than most standalone games.

Gallant and Delusional

Facing off against the Wild Hunt took a lot out of Geralt. The journey to save Ciri was long and arduous, but the duties of a Witcher never end. Blood and Wine sets Geralt off on another adventure, which takes him from the cold, harsh North to the summery lands of knights and beauty in Toussaint.

Sadly, the jaunt to this new land is not for pleasure. Geralt’s considerable skills will be put to use as he has been called on by the duchess of Toussaint to solve a series of murders.
 

The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine

Geralt must solve the murders happening in Toussaint.

Naturally, this isn’t an ordinary serial killer. No, Geralt must track down the Beast of Toussaint that has eviscerated several prominent knights. The murders have caused unrest and panic within the small kingdom, and it is imperative Geralt slay the beast and put the people of Toussaint at ease.

This is no small feat. The romantic nature of Toussaint complicates matters, especially when Witchers are concerned. Despite the complications, Geralt will find a way to bring the Beast of Toussaint to its knees.

What made The Wild Hunt such an engrossing experience was an expertly crafted story and tightly wound plot, even if it allowed players to unfold it at their own pace. Blood and Wine is no different. Players are free to explore all Toussaint has to offer and indulge in side missions and secondary stories at their leisure.

No matter how deeply enticed you are by the captivating ancillary missions and the stories they tell, you can jump back into the main story without missing a beat. It is a beautifully paced plot.
 

The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine Review

Blood and Wine once again exhibits the deft hand the game has at creating complex side quests.

The side quests are almost as good as the main plot. They evolve and become more complicated as you tackle them. But despite how good they are, the main story is better.

Solving the murders and dealing with the Beast of Toussaint is absolutely spell binding. There are plenty of twists and no lulls. Every moment is full of exciting plot developments, wonderful character moments and great dialogue. It makes for one exciting and satisfying final mission for Geralt.

Live Again

Blood and Wine isn’t an inherently massive change in gameplay from The Wild Hunt. It is as addicting and compelling as ever, with intense combat and a huge amount of customization. However, chances are many players haven’t played The Witcher 3 in a while.

There are plenty of updates that change how the game looks and feels. Between the game’s overhauled UI and the dynamic Point of Interest system — interacting with one point of interest affects other nearby areas — the expansion is drastically different. But these changes are for the better. They make for an overall smoother and more fluid experience.
 

The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine Review

There are plenty of new things to discover in Blood and Wine’s combat.

There is a host of other new elements that help expand and upgrade your existing Geralt. Blood and Wine adds more than a hundred pieces of armor, including new Grandmaster class Witcher gear, more than 30 new weapons and the ability to dye Witcher gear different colors. The New Game+ allows players to get Geralt up to level 100. Outside of the significant content in terms of main quest and side missions, these additions create more replay value for The Witcher 3.

This doesn’t include the new mutations introduced in Blood and Wine, which give Geralt powerful new passive abilities. These mutations are available after pursuing a side quest that deals with a professor who was studying how to reverse the Witcher transformation. Once you unlock the ability to use them, you can upgrade mutations using skill points similar to Witcher skills.

They are more powerful than the normal mutagens used to augment skills, and radically affect how you play. One new mutation transforms Aard from a simple telekinetic push into a push that can also freeze enemies or instantly kill them. Another mutation can cause an enemy to explode from a critical hit from one of Geralt’s signs. These mutations add a new way to fight the monsters of Toussaint.
 

The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine Review

Geralt has plenty of new methods for dealing with tough and fierce monsters in Blood and Wine.

All of the updates, tweaks and new elements make Blood and Wine a similar yet vastly different experience than The Wild Hunt. They also make the 30 hours of new content worth digging into for players who maxed out their time in the main game.

Everything added to upgrade the gameplay doesn’t even touch on the changes made to Gwent, which has a brand new faction and massive tournament associated with it. This makes it a perfect appetizer to the upcoming standalone game.

Overall

Blood and Wine lives up admirably to the high standards the main game created while serving as a fantastic final chapter for Geralt. But it is also a satisfying adventure on its own. Everything that made the base game amazing — from the stellar writing and perfect characterization to the deep gameplay and lush, fleshed-out setting — is dutifully present here.

It is hard to explain exactly what makes this expansion wonderfully addictive, but suffice it to say, you should prepare to get lost in everything Blood and Wine has to offer.

The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a code for the game provided by the developer.

 

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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THE WITCHER 3: BLOOD AND WINE REVIEW: CLOSING TIME

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall98%

GAMEPLAY10

While the gameplay remains largely the same as The Wild Hunt, the addition of the new mutations and all the updated systems make Blood and Wine feel fresh and new.

GRAPHICS9.5

Toussaint is a beautiful new setting that gives an excellent contrast to the more muted and overcast locations of the North in Wild Hunt.

SOUND10

The score is incredible, but the voice acting is what makes the Blood and Wine stand out in terms of sound.

STORY10

Blood and Wine serves as the final adventure for Geralt, and it doesn’t disappoint with a murder mystery that takes some exciting twists and turns.

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