At the End of the Path

Witcher 3 – Blood and Wine

 

Tea: Not going to go for Blood or Wine, but rather an Enhanced Swallow

 

One last time we return to the world of Geralt and his ambitions to become the world’s deadliest ballerina. This time, a whole new region bows before Geralt’s unyielding will to discover every single weapon and amour diagram within it, namely Toussaint, a Mediterranean region full of wine and blood, as the title might imply. Will Geralt send us off with a smile on our faces and tears in the eyes, or will T.S. Eliot’s poem also apply to the Witcher: “This is how the Witcher ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.” Time to dive in and find out.

A witcher never goes on holiday, therefore Geralt cannot possibly visit the south to get a nice tan. A monster is roaming the otherwise peaceful streets of Beauclair and it does not kill at random. The supposed monster has set his claws on five different victims, all representing one of the chivalric virtues of the lands. It is up to Geralt to find the beast and do what a witcher does best, but soon matters become more complicated and Geralt is once again caught between tough decisions to make and the potentially devastating consequences they could bring about. In his journey he is joined by his old companion Regis, who I will get to later, a higher vampire with the most extraordinary vampire gift of all: a soothing voice. The duchess Anna Henrietta also plays an important role and is not afraid to ride into battle herself for her people. All the while a tourney takes place which should go undisturbed, a tourney our favourite white-haired mutant can even participate in. Rough and world-versed Geralt in the middle of noble and pompous knights. What a journey lies ahead of you!

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– Beautiful Toussaint, streets filled with wine and blood. –

At this point you would probably expect me telling you that the gameplay is still the same and that it is still perfectly functional etc. but here comes the twist: There are actual changes. Not in the way the game plays per se, but they added a whole lot to the mutation menu, including new more powerful mutations which can alter the way you play by a lot. There is, however, one negative point in regard to the gameplay I must address and that is during the tourney. You are asked to ride your horse while occasionally slashing and shooting some targets and combat on horseback does not feel good at all. It is clunky and unresponsive and not fun. Aside from this minor gripe the gameplay remains fun with new depth added to it.

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– Each of these circles represents a new abaility that can have a huge impact on your playstyle –

The new region of Toussaint is gorgeous and vibrant in colour. It is such a stark contrast from the somewhat dreary region of the main game. You also get your own estate in this beautiful landscape very early on and with it a place to store equipment, hang up your favourite swords (*cough* the Emmentaler *cough*) and display your lovely suits of armour. You can improve your estate further by buying more upgrades. Speaking of armour, a new class has been added, namely grandmaster sets. These even more powerful versions of the witcher sets build upon the already present sets you found throughout the main game. Now they become just that tad bit stronger and better looking. And if the colour doesn’t suit you. No problem. CD Project Red has got you covered as they introduce armour dyes that let you choose the primary colour of the set pieces. My favourite, though, has to be the newly introduced Manticore gear (Yes, I know it is from the first game, but I never played that). To me, this armour resembles Geralt’s personality the best with its light garments, yet enough pouches and straps to carry everything a witcher needs, while looking stylish at the same time.

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– This set simply says: Geralt, the witcher. –

The production value of this dlc is enormous again, with a voice cast that gives it their all. The most outstanding performance this times around comes from Regis, a character I could listen to for eternity and whose appearance never failed to make me smile. His dialogue is well-written and truly gives off the air of an immensely old vampire that has wandered the earth for a long time. The duchess is portrayed incredibly as well and also character-model-wise. In fact there is not a single weak link in the chain of the Witcher’s cast. The soundtrack is phenomenal as ever, with the main theme of the villain being outstandingly haunting yet beautiful at the same time. Basically the level of polish you would come to expect at this point.

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– Oh Regis, how I’d love to move in with you into your crypt. –

Special recognition has to be awarded to the boss fights of this expansion. Not only are they numerous but also excellently executed. Especially the final boss fight outshines every other fight in the series in my book. A multi-phased gauntlet where one mistake will surely mark your end. And the best (and worst part) is that I did not want to fight this battle at all. To understand this, however, you will have to play it for yourself and I am sure you will agree. The ending to the expansion can vary greatly once again, perhaps even more than in the main game, so there is a lot of incentive to play it again and see what different outcomes are possible.

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– CD Project Red has delivered another expansion that would count as a full game under different publishers –

In the end, you can truly feel how “final” this expansion is. New elements are introduced and everything you really need is packed closely together, such as a master weapons and armour smith. Demands by the players are heard with the introduction of dyes and other small nods. Atop of that there is a lot of humour in this expansion, the side quest to retrieve a statue’s stolen testicles is just one among many. I had a blast with this expansion, but with every step I took and monster I fought the realisation dawned that it soon had to end. I spent so much time with Geralt on the path and every minute was a joy to behold. Few other series have achieved this level of constant excitement and fun throughout. It is therefore with joy rather than sadness that I raise my teacup to you Geralt and the team behind you. It was glorious, but the path must end here and you can finally rest, witcher. You deserve it. Rest well, White Wolf.

 

 

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