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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Transcript Edit

And now your regularly scheduled reminder that the new consoles are shit: the new consoles are shit. Thank you. For further information, look at a new console and rub shit in your eyes.

Yes, I got burned again. "Let's just play Witcher 3 on PS4," I said to myself. "From what I hear, it's supposed to weigh on the hardware like a monkey swinging from a pair of distended nipples and my PC's not the spring chicken she used to be. At least on consoles there's a certain guarantee of technical efficiency." It seems all that huffing compressed air had caused me to hallucinate that I was in some marvelous other universe where all sense hadn't stampeded out of the triple-A games industry like a roomful of young women when Bill Cosby walks in.

So what followed was an epic tale of framerate loss, long load times, weird glitches (stop floating two feet in the air, Mr. Dwarf, I know you're only trying to compensate) and one good old-fashioned infinite loading screen, during which my calloused hands groped in vain for my twin swords Control and Alt, atop my trusty horse Delete.

We return for the third time to the adventures of Rivery Gerald, a witcher, that is to say, someone who hunts monsters, not witches. It's as needlessly confusing as ever. Why don't they just call it Monster Hunter Thr-- oh, wait. Gerald is a master swordsman, but can do magic as well, in a cool casual off-handy kind of way, not like how all those nerd mages twat about with it. But his lot is a tragic one, as he is shunned by ignorant society because he had to undergo mutation to make himself really good at everything. Even though his only visible mutation is a pair of cool scary eyes, rather than anything disfiguring that might prevent him from macking on all the ladies who will want his beautiful white hair cascading over their hot titties like the foamy fast-flowing mountain stream it resembles. Also, big muscles.

There's something terribly wanky about all this. Gerald is one secret makeout with Harry Potter away from being a self-insert fan fiction character. Even more so now it's the third in a series of epic world-changing adventures, and so Gerald seems to be more personally acquainted with major political figures than a stray dog is with fire hydrants. It was annoying to have to flip to the character glossary every other dialogue because ninety percent of the named characters are from previous games and listening to their conversation was like escorting a new girlfriend to her high school reunion, but I was only annoyed because this is the first time I've actually gotten somewhat into a Witcher game. Previous games left me kinda cold in the way those kinds of complex western RPGs often do. I always feel paralyzed by things that are too open, like your mum's legs. Am I going the right way? Should I loot all seven million lootable objects in every given room just in case I need to craft something later from a broom and a colouring book? Am I knobbing the most ideal of all the knobbable whores in this brothel?

So Witcher 3 sat me down and went, "Alright, fuckface, how about we spend the entire first chapter of the game tutorializing the bollocks off every feature we have. Would that help His Majesty settle in? Ride here, kill the monsters, craft that, punch these blokes, drink this, wipe that on your sword, wipe your cock off on a bedsheet, fight a griffon we have practically nailed to the floor for you, any fucking questions?" Just one: why do you keep trying to make me play Magic: The Gathering? Boring and weirdly omnipresent card game sidequest aside, the combat is probably more layered than it needs to be. For most enemies, mashing quick attack and dodging aside when you see their monocles pop off with indignation will get you most of the way there. If a boss was proving hard, I'd just cast the Jedi mind-trick stun thing for a free hit and then keep dodging until I could shake off my magical wanker's cramp and repeat. Meanwhile, the game watched uncomfortably from the sidelines, occasionally shouting, "Hey, there's all these fancy oils you could be using to get this done about .4 percent more efficiently. Maybe you could craft some from the entire Hanging Gardens of Babylon's worth of random herbs and flowers you've got stuffed down your trousers?" "Got any upgrades for the basic healing potion?" I shout back. "Not presently, no," replies the game. "Then I'll stick with mashing quick attack if it's all the same to you." "Well, if that's your attitude, your sword just broke again, har har har." Oh, bloody hell. Rivery Gerald's oaths of fidelity last longer than his fucking swords. I think they just stuck a hilt on an unusually long Pringle.

The game's real strength comes from the storytelling, Gerald's Mary Sue tendencies notwithstanding. There is a bit of the old BioWare face disconnect between words and gestures like a badly dubbed Polish soap opera, but the rest of the time the character's face and body animation seem just natural enough to be engaging, which probably means there must have been a soul-crushing amount of effort put into fine details to avoid the classic "Commander Shepard deer-In-the-headlights" look. And I'd like to personally shout out to whoever had the thankless title of Eyebrow Wrangler, 'cause I did engage with the characters and felt sad when my choices led to their deaths. Although it's pretty fucking hard to predict where some axes will fall. One particularly nuanced character died as an eventual consequence of me turning an evil tree into a horse. Well, now it sounds obvious!

It's the fine details that really makes Witcher 3's storytelling. A sequence that stands out for me is when you have an audience with the king, but are forced to have a shave and pick out a new outfit, and learn how to bow first. A lot of games would have just gone, "Ride your horse through the front door, then mash the A button at whatever cunt's wearing a crown with an exclamaition mark." The Witcher 3 example is all about showing over telling, which is probably for the best, because whenever anyone tells us anything it's usually in an exaggerated regional British accent that turns even the most dramatic scene into Monty Python Does Westeros. Nevertheless, I was getting into it, but I eventually found myself with a laundry list of sidequests involving major characters that I did genuinely want to do, really, as I was fairly certain they would lead to getting to watch two 3D models awkwardly bump uglies like two sausage rolls trying to get past each other in a narrow hallway, but I was already past the suggested level for the next main quest and I don't like being too overleveled. The combat was already feeling like having to tokenly playfight every basket of puppies so none of them felt left out. I hadn't needed to hunt a monster in like seven levels. And it was nice to see Gerald on the job; there was something endearingly blue collar about calling on villagers like a traveling chimney sweep and tracking down the beast with a bit of C.S.I.: Narnia.

So I'll give Witcher 3 my recommendation for the adept story crafting, but as the housewife said to the randy stallion: "It's possible to put too much in."

Addenda Edit

  • Witchers get stitches
  • Other sketches from Monty Python Does Westeros include the "I'm a casual rapist and I'm OK" song
  • Is Rivia anywhere near Bolivia 

Screenshots Edit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey

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