The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is widely considered to be one of the best games to be released over the past few years. The internet is filled with praises for the title and its publisher with many declaring The Witcher 3 to be not only a great game, but a revolutionary one too.
These statements have, however, not gone uncontested. Across gaming forums and threads discussing various different gaming-related topics, it is not exactly uncommon to find people suggesting that although The Witcher 3 may be a good game, it may perhaps also be the most overrated game of all-time.
Despite this fact, the overwhelming positive public perception the game maintains cannot really be denied.
So, why do people love The Witcher 3 so much? Is the game revolutionary or has the game’s achievements just been blown out of proportion?
In an attempt to answer this question, I will be looking at four common reasons that many people (including myself) tend to provide when explaining why exactly they love The Witcher 3.
1. The Immersive Plot and Well-Written Characters
The first factor many gamers tend to mention when discussing exactly why The Witcher 3 is a great game is that it contains an immersive story and very likeable characters.
Quite simply, there aren’t many games that have had people writing about how receiving a particular ending to the narrative made them feel very depressed – not because it was badly written, but rather that they felt so emotionally invested in the characters that they could not bear the idea of these characters falling victim to unfortunate endings, which is a testament to how good many feel the writing in the game is.
Personally, the first time I played The Witcher 3, I got so drawn into the narrative elements of the game that I never accepted payment for most of the contracts I completed simply due to the contract giver having some sad story (and this was much to my own detriment too). Being unable to pay for a full set of Witcher gear is the price one pays for developing scruples…
Geralt is also not really the archetypal ‘hero’ protagonist that one often tends to find in any sort of fantasy media. He doesn’t have to perform tasks out of the kindness of his heart; he can choose to ignore the injustices within the game-world and is quite the master of sarcastic quips with his sardonic sense of humour.
These facets make interacting with the game-world a really exciting experience as many times one really just wants to know how other characters within the game-world will react to Geralt’s actions, whether it is his inability to make a decision between two women he loves or his decision not to get involved in political disputes.
This idea combined with the fact that the game is filled with interesting side characters that players often want to learn more about is what makes playing through The Witcher 3 such a compelling experience for so many players.
2. Player Decisions Actually Mean Something
As previously mentioned, one of the exciting parts about playing The Witcher 3 is that the decisions one makes actually does affect the manner in which other characters may perceive you as well as what the overall ending to the narrative will be.
This makes the game extremely exciting to play as one generally does not know how their decisions will ultimately affect the outcome of the plot until they’ve actually beaten the game and seen the ending. This fact leads to players contemplating their decisions and a narrative that the player may feel more invested in because he/she feels as if they had a hand in creating it.
There are many games that claim to contain player-driven narratives created through the use of decision-making systems, in which a player’s choices determines the game’s outcome, but, in actual fact, provide nothing more than the illusion of choice.
A very good example of this could, perhaps, be seen in many recent Telltale games where its seems as if it doesn’t matter what decisions you make as the ending of the game will always be the same.
The Witcher 3 does have set endings (as every game has set endings), but the fact that the decisions that lead to them don’t seem to provide just an illusion of choice and that it is possible for two players to get two different outcomes is something that is very exciting for many gamers.
3. The Limited Amount of Filler Content
About a year ago, I discussed the notion of the market for open-world games becoming over-saturated. One of the key issues mentioned in this debate was that many open-world games fail to provide the player with encapsulating experiences in which one is excited to pour hours into exploring the game-world.
This is often because the developers or publishers of such games tend to focus more on quantity rather than quality with regards to content.
Developers design these seemingly beautiful worlds and then fill them with missions of a repetitive nature that more often than not does more to diminish the player’s desire to explore the world as opposed to anything else.
In an industry filled with such games, many players do believe that the The Witcher 3 is a beacon of light showing that open-world games do not have to be stuffed to the brim with stupid, repetitive side missions.
In The Witcher 3, players are compelled to take on and search for side quests quite simply due to the fact that every mission provides some sort of interesting narrative with it.
Arguably, if one looks at the content of all the side quests in the game on a base level, they may find them to be very similar in scope (go there and kill that person or monster), however, the narrative provided with these missions (as well, at times, the gameplay dynamics) is enough to make them all feel different.
Many gamers believe that quality is at the forefront of the content provided in The Witcher 3 and for that simple fact many players cannot help but simply love the game.
4. The Open-World is Well-Designed and Absolutely Beautiful
A beautiful open-world may not be the only requirement needed to be met in order to get players to pour hours into a game, but there is no denying that it certainly does help.
There is no contesting the fact that the world of The Witcher 3 (although very dark and gritty in some areas) is absolutely stunning.
Personally, I can say that in exploring Skellige and Tossaint a number of screenshots were taken in order to capture the landscape; some of which were later used as background images on several different technological devices.
Not every game needs to have jaw-dropping graphics, but people certainly do like looking at a pretty picture.
Is The Witcher 3 A Revolutionary Game?
Many gamers believe that a revolutionary game is one that impacted the gaming industry in a significant manner, either by changing industry trends or by introducing a new concept to the medium.
Games such as Super Mario Bros., Doom, Grand Theft Auto III, The Legend of Zelda, Tetris and Metal Gear Solid are all considered revolutionary for doing just that.
Has The Witcher 3 been able to do such?
The answer to this question will probably vary depending on who you ask and ultimately is only a decision you can make.
As previously mentioned, there are many gamers who believe that The Witcher 3, while a great game, is not revolutionary at all; they believe that the people who proclaim so fail to look at the game objectively by ignoring its faults (for example, the button-mashing combat system) and over-exaggerating its impact on the gaming industry (re: “It’s the best RPG ever made and if you don’t think so you’re just a fool!” suggestions.)
However, then there are those who believe that the game, while not having introduced inherently new concepts, did push the boundaries of what an open-world game can achieve when enough time is spent creating a quality product and, in turn, raised the expectations of the gaming community as a whole and has thus been revolutionary in that manner.
Some developers have openly-acknowledged taking inspiration from The Witcher 3 in aiming to create better content (Ubisoft Montreal stating so with Assassin’s Creed: Origins being one notable example) and many open-world RPG titles are also now compared to the game when players make an assessment of quality.
Personally, with all this in mind, I haven’t really decided on whether I believe The Witcher 3 is a revolutionary game or not. All I know is that it’s a great game that may be overhyped to some extent, but it is one that I really enjoy playing and possibly even one that I consider to be my favourite game of all-time.
But, what do you think? Have you played The Witcher 3? What do you think about it? Is it a revolutionary game? Please share in the comments down below.