Hunt’s End

Happy Weekend TAY!

Whew! What a busy week. I was feeling a little under the weather all week (there is a NASTY flu going around) and I didn’t get a lot of solid sleep. I’m looking forward to a chillaxing weekend with nothing on the schedule.

I picked at a tiny bit of Uncharted 4 with my wife and played a wee bit of Divinity: Original Sin with my friend last week. My wife and I also mopped up The Silent Hill Show Stranger Things and finally finished off the last season of Game of Thrones (so sad there isn’t another season this year). We also watched Star Trek: Discovery jump the shark, hopefully, they’ll get that back on track, I’m definitely not a fan of the last two episodes.

Most of my free time was (of course) spent with The Witcher 3. Now sitting at 138 hours, I’ve finished off the main game’s storyline and I’ve also completed the first of the DLC releases “Hearts Of Stone”.

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The main storyline resolved pretty well. The final fights were a little lacking in substance, but it was a great spectacle. I was happy with my choices at the end (except for my relationship greed) and how things were resolved.

But Hearts Of Stone...WOW! I LOVED that and (so far) it is my favourite experience in The Witcher 3. I thought the storytelling was fantastic and the quest itself was very compelling; I finished the entire DLC pack in two sittings.

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The big surprise was the encounters. While I found the combat somewhat repetitive in the last quarter of the vanilla game, Hearts Of Stone had some truly challenging and exciting battles.

Part of what made the DLC fascinating was the narrow focus I had on the story. As I had polished off all the primary and secondary quests of the vanilla game, and there was little in the way of secondary quests for Hearts Of Stone, the story flowed so much better.

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Given the size of The Witcher 3 and the ridiculous amount of side-quests, it felt like all the storylines in the vanilla game suffered a little from a lack of focus. Sure, this is somewhat of a user issue since I could have focused on single quests at all times. However, the way you move around the world tends to see you completing things in your general vicinity and often leaving one quest line to follow another. This had me regularly saying to myself “Oh yeah, I remember someone asked me to find that person 50 hours ago...what was that about again?”.

If I was designing the quest system I would allow you to only hold one primary, one secondary, one Witcher contract, and one treasure hunt quest at a time (the game breaks down quests into these categories). This way you would have to abandon your current quest to add another quest in the same category. I think this would make the ability to refuse a quest actually have a purpose as there is currently no reason to refuse a quest. Under these constraints, it would allow the player to remain better focused on fewer stories at one time.

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Of course, I would also like to see time limits introduced to the quests so that the player had only so many hours/days/weeks to complete quests. This again would make refusing quests actually serve a purpose, but it also would add a layer of tension to the game that is missing in most RPGs. It would also make resting to replenish potions and travel a much bigger consideration as currently there is no penalty for “wasting time”.

I’m hoping I’ll have some time for the Blood and Wine DLC for The Witcher 3 this weekend. I’ve just poked my nose in it and I am excited to see that it seemed to receive even better accolades than the Hearts Of Stone DLC. I’m also hoping to be able to find the time to finish off Never Alone with my son as he doesn’t have any surprise tests to study for.

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So, what are you playing this weekend?