Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone (PC) Review

Hearts of Stone is the first expansion to The Witcher 3. The game is set in the same world as the main game, specifically in the north eastern part of Novigrad.

There is quite a bit of new content here, but the highlight of this expansion is the story. This may be the best expansion to a video game I have ever played.

With the Game of The Year edition, I had the option to start the expansion with a default level 30 character, but I waited till I finished the main story to play the expansions. At least a level 30 character is recommended for the expansion, and by the end of the main story, I was well past that.

The expansion has simple beginnings. It starts with a contract to kill a monster in the sewers of Oxenfurt, but it soon opens up into a fantastic adventure with excellent characters and well written dialog. I can’t really discuss the story without going to spoiler territory, but suffice to say those that enjoy good writing and storytelling are likely to enjoy this expansion a lot.

There are a couple of main quests which I found comparatively boring, but the game picks up very quickly, and ends with a superb conclusion. Often times I found myself unsatisfied with game endings, especially in RPGs (case in point, Mass Effect 3). That is not the case with Hearts of Stone. It has one of the best endings in video games I have ever played.

There are many little story details scattered throughout the game, and for those that have the time and the inclination, there is a lot of replay value. Its not just fan service either. Re-watching some of the cut-scenes made realize the effort that went into telling this story. There are some excellent analysis videos on YouTube, that will do a far better job at explaining the story. Speaking of value, I got this game as a part of the GOTY bundle on GOG for $19.99. This bundle includes the main game, and the two expansions. I can't think of a better deal for RPG fans. I typically do not recommend paying full price for games, but The Witcher 3 and its expansions are well worth the money.

The expansion also introduces new enemy types, which are much harder than the ones found in the base game. Some of the same kind of enemies that exist in the base game are now much higher level comparatively. I once wandered into the north east side of the map, and ran into level 30 enemies. I was used to dealing with them effortlessly in the main game, but I ended up getting killed, and then whats I realized I wandered into the expansion territory, which opened up a whole new set of side quests.

I would absolutely replay this expansion a few times over, if it weren't for the spiders.

+ Excellent Story
+ Great Endings
+ Interesting Characters
+ Superb Value For Money

- Spiders

Verdict - Must Play