Platforms PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One Genre Role-Playing Game
Publisher CD Projekt Red Developer CD Projekt Red
Platform Played PC
Blood and Wine is the final expansion for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and it is one hell of a way to go out. The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine expansion is more Witcher 3, carrying on the exceptional base game and adding to it through a new region, a new mutation system, and new stories to experience. Blood and Wine is a wonderful expansion, and a superb send off for Geralt.
In Blood and Wine, Geralt travels to a new land called Toussaint after being hired by Duchess Anna Henrietta to take care of a monster that has been murdering knights. The expansion begins in No Man’s Land in order to highlight the contrast between the death and destruction of the base game, and the beautiful tranquillity of Toussaint. It’s as Geralt says, Toussaint looks like it is right out of a fairytale. Toussaint is immediately more colourful and seemingly peaceful than any other region in The Witcher 3. It’s a land of castles, knights and wine, with the flat plains of No Man’s Land replaced by more mountainous contours and green pastures. Toussaint is picturesque, and a great world for Geralt to end his adventures in.
Assuming you’ve played The Witcher 3, you know what you’re getting with Blood and Wine. The main storyline is intriguing and entertaining, and carries the same high quality storytelling that was in the base game. There’s an ample number of new characters introduced all with interesting backgrounds and motifs. The main story will take 12-15 hours to complete, and it’s mostly an enjoyable ride from beginning to end. The pacing does slow down a bit after the high paced opening few hours, but it picks up at the end with an intense final boss fight and a rewarding conclusion to the narrative and for Geralt in general.
My only complaints with the main story are that it is overly dialogue heavy in the middle acts, and the big plot twist makes the primary antagonist somewhat one dimensional. Further, while the dialogue is wonderfully delivered, a more dynamic camera switching between different views of characters would have served better than the static profile headshots that accompany a lot of the dialogue.
Blood and Wine’s side quests were some of my favourite in the game. As with the base game, side quests are much more than fetch quests, most of them all have their own short stories to get invested in. They also feel much more of a celebration of Geralt and his Witcher trade. You’ll do things that put Geralt in unusual situations, like posing for a painted portrait or becoming a knight and participating in a tournament. Geralt often shows reluctance to do these activities, but goes through with them anyway. It feels like CD Projekt Red lifted all restraints and just ran with everything interesting they could think of in order to give players as much enjoyment as possible. And it works well.
There is a lot of content in this final expansion too. For this review I played the game for 18 hours, completing the main story and a number of side quests, and I’ve still hardly scratched the surface of the expansion. In size, Toussaint rivals other Witcher 3 regions like No Man’s Land and Novigrad. There’s a lot to discover if you want to get the most out of your experience. The main story is set in only a small portion of the map, so once you’re done there’s smaller towns to visit with quest billboards, bandit hideouts to liberate, and much more. CD Projekt Red has gone all out with Blood and Wine, it’s almost like its own contained game.
Likewise, if gameplay stayed the same as the base game it would still be an impressive game. However, CD Projekt Red has gone beyond that to introduce some new character improvement systems that make developing Geralt much more varied. The new mutations system allows players to spend ability points to unlock powerful enhancements for Geralt. Only one can be activated at a time, but the more you unlock the more ability slots you can have – up to a maximum of four. Some of these new mutations include giving Aard the ability to freeze enemies rather than knocking them down, or reviving Geralt when he dies. They add more variety to the type of Geralt you can play, and I felt encourage to keep unlocking mutations to try and craft the perfect character to fit my play-style. With the level cap raised to 100, it’s a great new addition, especially for players who have sunk hundreds of hours in and are looking for more ways to tune their character.
The other new gameplay mechanic is a housing system for Geralt. Early in the expansion Geralt inherits a vineyard and can pay coin to upgrade it. While most upgrades are cosmetic, it feels great renovating a place for Geralt to call home and the armour and weapon stands give you a nice play to display your sets that you don’t use, but don’t want to sell either.
There are plenty of other more subtle changes that are introduced in Blood and Wine too, such as a smartly redesigned menus and an expanded set of options that include being able to turn off Geralt automatically drawing his sword. You might not notice them, but they feel much more user-friendly than the base game’s menus.
The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine is a terrific expansion, and a wonderful way to send off franchise protagonist Geralt. Blood and Wine is more Witcher 3, and that’s great. The storytelling is superb, with an entertaining main story and side missions and the gameplay is still amazing. The world of Toussaint is visually stunning and it makes Blood and Wine feel like a stand-alone experience. The new mutations system creates more opportunities to craft the perfect Geralt, and upgrading the vineyard is a cool way to spend your coin. The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine is the perfect way to end Geralt’s journey, and a prime example of how to create a worthwhile expansion.
- Toussaint looks beautiful and is packed with content
- Entertaining main story and side missions
- New mutations system adds more variety to character development
- It’s more Witcher 3
- Story twist makes antagonist one dimensional
- Middle portions of the story are very dialogue heavy with a mostly static camera