The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt forest scene.

The Witcher 3 Xbox One review

Possibly one of the biggest games of the year so far, The Witcher 3 is an open world RPG from CD Projekt Red. It’s safe to say there’s a lot riding on this title, with a lot of anticipation since it was first announced. Are we looking at a Game of the Year candidate?

Following on from The Witcher 2, the game loops the storyline together and offers players the chance to explore a vast landscape filled with fantasy creatures like drowlers and stone gollems. The array of quests and activities to partake in on The Witcher 3 are impressive to say the least.

The Witcher 3 city.
The game looks and feels brilliant.

One of the biggest talking points about the title was its performance on the Xbox One, with the game running at a scaling 900p throughout, so yes, it doesn’t perform as well as the PC version at fluid 1080p, but that’s got to be expected – especially when the PS4 counterpart also struggles to run the game smoothly. A game of this wealth and size will make any console struggle, but the majority of the game plays smoothly and unless you have an FPS counter on your screen, you won’t realise that the frames are dropping. The action never goes choppy and throughout combat it runs smoothly with every sword swing. The general graphics are crisp though and there are a lot of breathtaking moments when you turn the corner and spot a sunset in the distance. If you like taking screenshots, you’ll be snapping away a lot on this title.

It becomes more evident later on, as the loading times and the number of loading screens increases in cities like Novigrad. I had to load about five times just to get to the local inn and with the action broken up by cut-scenes and diaolgue, the loading screens increase further.

The Witcher 3 horse.
Now where’s the sunset?

Another improvement from The Witcher 2’s sluggish combat is the fluidity of each attack. X gives out a light and fast swing of your weapon, while your Y attack packs a meaty swing, which will dismember limbs from enemy bodies. The combat really puts you into the shoes of Geralt, as you feel the force behind each swing and try to time your attacks as an enemy edges closer towards you. Equally, you’ve got dodge moves such as rolling and side stepping to avoid incoming attacks and you can even block some damage using your weapon. I have to say, I was very impressed by the combat mechanics in The Witcher 3, especially as the game depends on it so heavily.

While exploring this huge world, it’s safe to say you’ll gain a lot of items in your inventory. At times when you get further into the game, your head will be swimming with crafting materials like ores and rare elements, not to mention sword and armour you’ve not sold to the nearest merchant yet. Not only does the small inventory icons make it hard to get through all your items, but also the different tabs are very hard to navigate across. This can make selling your gear to merchants very tiresome too, particularly if you’ve got a lot of things to sell, as you can only sell an item one at a time. There’s not quick sell button to make the process quicker.

One of my concerns with the map size was that a lot of it would just be open land filled with farmer’s fields and dense forests and even though this is the case, there are enough landmarks to break it up. There are a few areas of the map which do suffer from this though.

There's a few teething issues.
There’s a few teething issues.

In terms of issues with the game, there are a few bugs and glitches such as quests not tracking properly or random failures. A lot of gamers were moaning about the untidiness of Assassin’s Creed Unity, particularly animations and movement, well The Witcher 3 suffers from the same sort of issues, as I often found my horse wanting to climb a tree or get stuck on random fence posts. The same goes for my character, the terrain doesn’t seem very friendly for characters, pairtuclarly during races where it becomes a burden immediately.

Overall, the game feels highly polished and after two delays it’s delightful to play a game of this scale and enjoy it so much. The quests offer enough variety and it doesn’t feel like a rinse and repeat job and there’s enough to explore to keep you going for at least 100 hours. The Witcher 3 has to be my Game of the Year this far – the only game I can see beating it now is Star Wars: Battlefront.

Complete Xbox recommended game.

Pros

  • My Game of the Year so far
  • The not only looks great, it plays great!
  • As promised, over 100 hours of gameplay

Cons

  • Too many loading screens in large cities
  • No 1080p gameplay
  • The terrain doesn’t always bode well with horses

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