In any other year, getting the three of us together to discuss what our Game of the Year is would be a nightmare. This year it was simple. Colten proposed the idea that we each would write our own article for the game we chose, but we all chose the same game. It is without question that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was our game of the year.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Release Date: May 19th, 2015
Publisher: CD Projekt
Developer: CD Projekt Red
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
2015 was a year of fantastic games. So, so many games that between the three of us, we were likely not able to play all of them. That, is because over 150 hours have been put into the game. Not total. That’s for each of us! We all know the game pretty well, so you can trust us when we say that this is one of the best games we have ever played. We each wrote a little blurb about why this is our Game of the Year for 2015. We’ll start with Thomas.
The Witcher 3 has proven itself to be a top contender for most people’s game of the year choice. One of the best things about this game is that it keeps you constantly busy. The main plot itself is well written and takes quite a while to beat. Aside from the main story, The Witcher 3 offers roughly 150 hours of side quests (depending on how easily distracted you are), which can be anything from helping a poor old woman by lending her money, tracking down a serial killer, or slaying an ancient beast.
Another great thing about this game is the leveling system. You get to choose your fighting style. Whether you want to be a bladed legend, cast spells like a wizard, or be a jack of all trades, there is something for everyone. I also like that the power ups you acquire are not all active. For example, you may unlock every sword and sign ability, but only sixteen of them can be active at one time, making it impossible for players to master everything at once. This allows certain enemies to be quite challenging, depending on how you have developed Geralt.
Another cool thing The Witcher offers is the witcher gear treasure hunts. The witcher gear is the best in the game, but you can’t just find them in a chest like a lot of RPG’s out there. You must find the diagrams for them, get the materials, then build them. There are four levels of each set of gear, so in order to obtain master crafted gear, you must make the four crappy versions of the armor and swords first. I think making players actually work for the best armor in the game is a frustrating and rewarding task. There are five schools for witchers in the world, and they each offer their own gear. Each set of gear aids Geralt in different ways, and can help him depending on what abilities you have active.
Aside from a few glitches in the game, I was disappointed with the final two boss battles. The first guy kind of just stood there and the second guy was a bit more challenging, but not how you would expect a game of this magnitude would end.
Next, we’ll send it over to Kyle. He included screenshots, so he wins.
I’ve been playing video games for most of my life, and there isn’t a single game as immersive and amazingly detailed as Witcher is. From stunning visuals in an extensive open world, to the side quests and contracts that may never be fully completed, this game embodies what open world RPGs have always struggled to do. It is by no means a perfect game, but it is a game that is perfect to a lot of players, including myself. The gameplay is superb. You can complete story missions, side quests, contracts, treasure hunts, crafting, and just exploring the beautiful world that the Witcher has to offer. The only thing I don’t like about this game is glitches/crashes. I have had three hard crashes while playing this game, and there have been moments when Roach (your horse) has been 10 feet above the ground. These happen rarely and have decreased with every update, but it is still jarring when you are immersed in the story. They bring you back to reality.
These are screenshots from actual gameplay moments in the game from my PS4. (Yes, the first picture was taken moments before I jumped to my death. When you’re that high up, you feel obligated to save and then jump)
The Witcher 3 also deals with a great bit of backstory and lore, as it is based off of a collection of works by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. This gives the game more meaning to me, as I am able to dive into the books and short stories that this world is based off of. The characters gain more depth, and the decisions you make in the game have more weight when knowing what Geralt of Rivia has done in the past.
Overall, this stunning game deserves Game of the Year for me by far. No other game even comes close. I look forward to more downloadable content and potential future Witcher related games.
We’ll end things with Colten, who had the most to say about the game.
I don’t understand all of the love for first person shooter video games, specifically the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises. I just don’t get it. They’re all barely updated iterations of the same game year after year and somehow still manage to get rave reviews and massive amounts of sales. If that’s your thing, then I’m happy for you, but I prefer my games to have a good story. With that said, my personal game of the year has to be The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
I haven’t put this much time into a game since Skyrim in 2011. Yeah, I’m a little biased toward the fantasy RPG genre, but I think you’ll find a lot of people out there who agree that The Witcher 3 is an absolutely phenomenal game. CD Projekt Red created a beautiful world based on the work of Andrzej Sapkowski and they nailed the release of the game, including fifteen free DLC items, a complete world map, and the game’s soundtrack with the purchase of a copy. The free DLC items were cool, mostly small add-ons and additional quests that really could have been included in the game itself, but the soundtrack was what really blew me away before I even installed the game on my PS4. Kyle and I went to pick up our copies together and as soon as we discovered that there was a soundtrack inside the case, that disc was popped into Quinn’s CD player (Quinn is the name of Kyle’s car) and we just sat in the parking lot for a few minutes listening to the epic music that we would be hearing once we finally had a chance to play the game. Maybe this happens more often than I’m aware of, but it was the first time that I can ever recall opening a new game to find an accompanying soundtrack. I love the idea, and kudos to CD Projekt Red for thinking outside the box.
Even though I love the soundtrack for this game, it doesn’t even begin to tell the tale of why this game is so great. The game is centered on Geralt of Rivia, a mutated monster hunter known as a witcher. Geralt’s weapons of choice are his swords, a steel blade for humans and a silver blade for monsters. In addition to the weapons, Geralt also has a few select magical abilities known as signs that can be used and built up. There is a lot going on that all needs to be mapped to a specific button on the controller, and I think the controls that were set up for the game work pretty well. That being said, one of the most common complaints that I have seen about Wild Hunt is that the controls are just not good. Personally, I disagree. It did take a while to get used to everything, especially moving from an easier difficulty to Death March, the hardest level of difficulty that the game has to offer. Combat on an easy difficulty is pretty much just mashing buttons, but with growing difficulty levels, you are forced to really learn the controls and go into each battle with a strategy. The same can be said for just about every game that I’ve ever played.
Wild Hunt is without a doubt one of the best looking games that I have seen. The world is amazingly detailed and everything seems to move smoothly, apart from a few glitches here and there. Open world games pride themselves on allowing the player to explore a vast playable area. I always think it’s a good thing when the game’s world is so large and gorgeous that I can actually forget about the main quest and the hundreds of side quests and lose hours just exploring and taking in all of the scenery. Yes, there are hundreds of quests to tackle in Wild Hunt. There is so much to do that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to finish all of it, but that’s honestly part of the reason I love this game so much. Even after you finish the main storyline, the replay value is so high because there are so many contracts and side quests to do. The one issue I have with the quests is that the game abandons the characters from the main quests once you complete that story line. For example, on my first playthrough, I chose to romance Triss Merigold. We were supposed to meet up in Kovir and basically live happily ever after, but once you complete the quest, that’s just the end. Sure, it makes sense given the fact that Kovir isn’t even an available location, but it still would have been a bit cooler to be able to visit with her and possibly use her as a companion like in Fallout or Skyrim. The same goes for Yennefer, Geralt’s other romance option, or even Ciri, his adopted daughter. At this point, there has been one major paid DLC released, called Hearts of Stone. This brought a new main quest line, which, while it wasn’t quite as lengthy as the original, still brought in quite an interesting story to play through, as well as a few new side quests. I’m really looking forward to the next DLC, which is supposed to be released sometime in early 2016.
Have I convinced you yet that Wild Hunt is worthy of Game of the Year? Ah, who cares? This is all my opinion, anyway. There is a very real possibility that some people who read this might have hated the game. That’s okay. But I loved it. Let me be me, you can be you. We haven’t really talked about it on this platform yet, but Kyle and I are in the process of writing a fantasy series. In doing this, we often ask ourselves what we can do to set ourselves apart from the many other fantasy books floating around the literary world. The most intriguing thing that I could think of was to somehow create a book that contained a living world, where no one reader would experience the exact same story as another. Short of writing one of those horrible “Choose Your Own Adventure!” books, it’s not exactly possible to create such a world merely by putting ink on paper. Even though I realize it’s not a realistic idea, it just sounds so damn cool to me. Not long after I threw that idea out there, it occurred to me that video games are the future of storytelling. There is no other way that you can experience a story from the perspective that a video game gives you. When you accompany that with a fantastic story where you can make decisions on your own that actually affect the outcome of the game, the game becomes so much more. Video games aren’t going anywhere, and people know this. The world needs more games like Wild Hunt that combine gameplay and storytelling in such a perfect manner. I sincerely hope that literature doesn’t completely succumb to video games, although it is a possibility. Why read a story when you can actually experience it? I love to read and write and even I would pick the latter over the former. You’d be crazy not to. Even though the third installment of The Witcher series is the final one, I hope to see more great games from CD Projekt Red in the future. I also hope that video games will continue to see more progression toward having fantastic stories in nearly every release.
Overall, we were all very impressed with this game. None of us are done playing this game, as we can always play a new game plus, and there is an endless amount of things to see and do, as well as two confirmed DLCs, one that has already been released.
Our official score: 10/10
We look forward to the crop of games in 2016, and look forward to a podcast talking about the other games from 2015.