Seriously. The Witcher 3 is long in the tooth now. Geralt’s last big adventure was released in 2015, seeing two very well-received expansions and plenty of critical acclaims. It was a really phenomenal way to close off Geralt’s story, and to this day I’ve still not gathered the emotional strength to finish Blood & Wine – because that means it’s all finally over.
The Witcher 3: Complete Edition finally launched just before Christmas, and it’s become my world again as I rush to finally complete it before my family welcomes a tiny new addition in a couple of months. But it’s not enough to just sail through to Blood & Wine, oh no – I’ve got to do all of those question marks too. And Witcher Contracts, and side quests, and crafting, which isn’t the game’s best-implemented feature but does reward you with some excellent gear.
I’ve completed the base game twice before, and both times I’ve more or less raced through the story missions. I may have casually hit a few contracts along the way, but I definitely didn’t have the patience for exploration back then. To put it in context, my first Witcher 3 play-through took about 40 hours. I’m well over that now, and I’ve only just hit Skellige. To say that The Witcher 3 is a big game is an understatement. It doesn’t really say enough, and it could be said about many games that aren’t particularly good.
The Witcher 3 with both DLCs is huge, yes. You’ve got the starting area of White Orchard, itself a sprawling map filled with secrets to uncover and interesting sidequests. Then the game lets you loose in Velen, which is basically 3-4 White Orchards in one zone. It has bogs, battlefields, and towns of various sizes, and contains the cities of Novigrad and Oxenfurt. Novigrad is basically a map in itself, and the quests there lean hard into the setting – murder mysteries, heist plots, brothels and dodgy dealings. Then you’ve got Skellige and Toussaint, entirely separate maps with their own themes and stories to tell.
There are quests you’ll be pointed towards by noticeboards. There’ll be quests and random events you discover travelling through the world organically. You’ll be disappointed by a lacklustre reward for an exploration mark and then absolutely stunned by the hidden wealth inside a treasure chest the game made no effort to lead you towards. The quest line that leads you towards earning the Witcher gear from the show is so perfectly integrated with the main game I had to go and check it wasn’t part of the original release.
Every area of The Witcher 3 is packed with secrets and surprising side quests. While you have your traditional Witcher contracts tasking Geralt with the killing of a specific monster, some of these quickly become morally complex affairs that don’t have simple solutions. Sometimes they lead into other side quests, and sometimes Geralt is given the option to walk a different path. You can always choose how these stories end but be aware that the world of the Witcher delights in turning expectations on their heads. There’s always a tragedy around the corner.
One thing I’ve noticed on my long journey through the Complete Edition is that Geralt, despite being a badass monster hunter, is generally a loveable goof (at least the way I play him). He’s great at his job, but socially awkward in a charming kind of way. I still get a big laugh out of ‘You smell wonderful at this funeral’ every time I hear it.
He’s probably one of gaming’s most interesting protagonists, in a way – all at once a cynical outcast and hopeless romantic who continuously proves himself more human than the crowds of peasants who look down on him for being a mutant. Of course, you can play him as callous and cold, but that just doesn’t seem to fit him as well.
Is it worth replaying The Witcher 3: Complete Edition?
Adventuring through The Witcher 3: Complete Edition on PS5 has been one of my most rewarding game replays of all time. The small tweaks made to bring the game up to date for the new consoles work really well, but if you originally played the game on PC you won’t notice that much of a difference. It still has so much to give, and now it can be enjoyed on a whole new generation of consoles. Chase the fantastic, layered fantasy story. Take to the road and just see what’s out there. Tackle challenging monster hunts for cold, hard cash. It’s really hard to see CDPROJEKT ever doing better than this.
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