Feature Article

Why I Can't Wait for The Witcher 3's New Expansion

My return to the Northern Kingdom.

Within the first two hours of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's upcoming expansion, I fought three bosses, angered a royal family, prevented a beheading, committed a beheading, battled the spirits of a legendary bloodline, and attended a wedding while possessed by a sarcastic ghost.

There are still eight more hours of content I haven't touched. Hearts of Stone, The Witcher 3's first paid expansion, bolsters a game that didn't need any help to begin with. But as with the rest of CD Projekt Red's massive RPG, the new content is well written, well paced, and replete with vibrant characters offering nuanced quests. I'm hesitant to detail my journey too much, as spoilers would ruin its impact--but this expansion seems to have it all: backstabbing, political intrigue, and even comic relief.

This new content is also easy to access in the open world. The recommended character level sits around 30, CD Projekt told us during a recent demo, and can be completed before or after you finish the main game. In fact, you initiate it much like any number of side quests: by reading a notice on a town bulletin board. From there, it propels you forward, introducing new characters and storylines with various options outside of the main narrative. GameSpot host Danny O'Dwyer played the expansion as well, and experienced content I didn't see at all.

Both of us, however, accepted the same Witcher contract on the same town's bulletin board. Rumors existed of a malicious beast attacking people in the sewers, and someone named Olgierd von Everec wanted it dead. And as a Witcher, protagonist Geralt was the one best equipped to get the job done.

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But as is often the case in The Witcher 3, things took a sharp turn. I met Shani, a scholar from previous Witcher titles, whose motives for chasing the beast were unclear. Shani's dialogue is sharp and cutting--you can tell she's smarter than Geralt--and that gap affects conversations more than once. I got the sense Shani was dumbing down her vocal skills on purpose. I also got the sense that Geralt noticed. And much of the give-and-take between them, these two characters who've known each other for the entire trilogy, was endearing and sincere.

But there was still a beast to track, so we slogged through the sewers until we found it. And it was massive. Unlike other monsters, this one didn't fall into the archetypes other Witcher contracts might: this wasn't a wraith, or griffin, or drowner. This was something else. And again, I don't want to spoil anything, but as a boss fight, this creature was versatile and difficult to bring down. But when I finally finished it, the story took another sharp turn. As it turns out, von Everec, the contract giver, had ulterior motives of his own. At this point, I stopped trying to analyse Hearts of Stone, and let it pull me forward on its own whims.

It was here when the expansion's breadth of content made itself known. There are various paths to go down, and differing plot threads to chase. I took another quest from von Everec, who asked me to bring his brother out for a day of partying, which brought us both to a wedding. This scene was among CD Projekt Red's best, with hilarious encounters well suited for some sort of fantasy sitcom. It also served as welcome comic relief.

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My co-worker Danny chose a different quest involving a heist. He gathered a crew, walked through the planning stages, and carried out the scheme to great effect. And charming as the wedding was--I can't wait to see the heist myself.

The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone is full of varied quests to follow, and striking characters to meet. There's so much I can't share, but only because the expansion is so story driven, and laced with powerful moments throughout my two hours. It's also well paced, a facet that's hard to come by in an open-world RPG, wherein players have every chance to venture off the beaten path. There's no shortage of promising games releasing this fall. But judging by the time I spent with it, Hearts of Stone deserves just as much attention on October 13.

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Mike Mahardy

Writer and Host. New Yorker. Enthusiast of gin, cilantro, and rock and roll.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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ryanwilcox131

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It's a good game, but the challenge subsides around lvl 20. And the whole game is really glitchy. Characters disappear depending on view angles. Character and house movement can be inconsistent and awkward at times. A few quests didn't complete properly so I did the tasks but didn't get all the xp. And the small hiccups while the environment loads becomes really irritating. The writing and concept is great, but the technical issues pull me away for long periods. I keep coming back hoping some things gets fixed. That being said, I'm at lvl 25, so I need to get crackin' because I'll regret not seeing this one through...

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kutulu1

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" bolsters a game that didn't need any help to begin with"

Lmao! Don't get me wrong, it was a great game, but there are way too many bugs. I finished the game with 2 glitched quests. The character movement sucks. The loot system sucks. 75% of all of those '?' marks were crappy loot locations. Finished the game at lvl 35 with all witcher gear mastercrafted but got my ass kicked by a lvl 63 arch griffin I found. There is no way to level up to that level because everything I kill gives me 1 exp, no more quests to do...lol

The game needs help!

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DEVILTAZ35

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@kutulu1: Playing at 144fps with Gsync is interesting. The horse is now a racing horse :)

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Arsyad00

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got too much already this year, guess i wait next year.

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belousotroll

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But I was hoping that the bonus location will be quite massive.

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CreepingDeath18

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@belousotroll:

new Location isn't until the next expansion, which will be out in march.

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NL_Skipper

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Edited By NL_Skipper

This is probably the first ever expansion released well BEFORE I'm looking for new content.... TW3 is huge, I still haven't completed it, aggh, so many games so little time...

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Mystere

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Take notes activision/bungie...this is how dlcs were meant to be released. As extra content to an already complete game not strip game of original content then add later in disguise as new dlc for profit

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Monsterkillah

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Im gona say something unpopular here

Dragon Age Inquitition> Witcher 3

I duno..l like witcher 3...but i just feel inquitition is the better rpg game( my personal opinion) i just find that game more enjoyable

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CatAtomic999

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@Monsterkillah: Eh, I can't agree. The difference in the quality of writing between those two games is enough to put Inquisition well behind the Witcher 3, in my opinion. It's like comparing Game of Thrones to some cheesy CW show.

The setting and characters from Dragon Age are a fan fictiony collection of cliches. Everything is black and white, good or evil, and everyone somehow has this extremely modern, western sense of morality that just seems silly.

The Witcher's writing and setting is just feel a lot more authentic and interesting. There's often no 'good guy' or 'bad guy' to be found, your choices have unintended consequences, and everyone's morality is kind of fluid and based on their particular situation.

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Kyrylo

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@Monsterkillah: Thumbs up. I agree. Witcher is nice. But characters and gameplay of DA:I is much better imho.

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razecah12

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@Kyrylo: lol ur lying urself

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Kyrylo

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@razecah12: not when 90% of female characters in witcher including 2 of the 3 main characters acting as cheap whores. And not while witcher force you to button mash every encounter.

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CreepingDeath18

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@Kyrylo:

its funny

because if you button mash in the witcher 3

especially when it comes to defense

you die.

ALOT.

been like that since the Witcher 1.

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Kyrylo

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@creepingdeath18: First witcher relied on rock-paper-scissor system. Second far less by making it much more straightforward. Well as for third it looks like it reduced it strategic approach even more

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razecah12

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@Kyrylo: ur spending alot time in those whore houses

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Kyrylo

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@razecah12: Its kinda hard not to do it when first unstoppable cutscene includes one of them :I

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Obiroid1

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@Monsterkillah i played both and TW3 is better hands down, DAI is like an mmo with not much to do.DAI had a handful of oh shit moments but TW3 was full of moments like that:

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dantas

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@Monsterkillah: no way

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diablo

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Edited By diablo

@Monsterkillah: I disagree, but there's nothing wrong with your opinion. I played DA:I and thought it was very good. To each his own...

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Bryjoered07

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@Monsterkillah: I think both games can be considered great rpgs here's why your opinion is pretty unpopular if you break it down

Best Story= Witcher 3

Combat= Without a doubt Witcher 3, but only because Bioware seems unwilling to go back to the FANTASTIC combat structure of the original Dragon Age

Characters= Slight edge to Witcher once again, although Dragon Age: I does have great characters as well

Side Quest/Meaningful Exploration= Witcher 3 in a landslide here I doubt even the most devoted Dragon Age fans would argue this.

Both are good games and can/should be enjoyed separately, most people would disagree with your claim that DA:I is the better overall RPG

DA:I is a party based RPG, which has it's roots in Baldur's Gate, so by that definition it is really vastly different from Witcher at a fundamental level. It is unfortunate Bioware took all the depth out of the combat that existed in DA:O.

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monoamarillo

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@Monsterkillah: That's fine. Most people whether they admit it or not have similar opinions that are "unpopular". My unpopular opinion is that I hate Shadow of Mordor and thought it was the most overrated game I have played in a while.

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jakesnakeel

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@monoamarillo: Agree. My most hated ps4 game.

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NL_Skipper

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@jakesnakeel: Hate seems like a strong word, but I had zero interest in the game when watching a friend play it (and during the typical hype fest). It just came off as too generic or something for me, just no spark.

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blutiger_engel

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@Monsterkillah: Seek professional help, Sir. It may already be too late.

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Kyrylo

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@blutiger_engel: looks like you talking from your personal experience ;)

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julianboxe

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@blutiger_engel: +1

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krisk7

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@Monsterkillah: Don't wory. You will be all right ... some day ... perhaps.

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omarfield

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Guys please can you list all the places you found the oathbreaker armor im level 37 and im 170 hours in ive been to every question mark in velen and skellige please please can you help I tried looking online and I know relic loot is dropped randomly I just really want to start a new game + when I find that armor and at the minute I feel like its not in the game for me

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Falloutwanderer

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Edited By Falloutwanderer

@omarfield You do know it;s not the oathbreaker armor from Witcher 2 right? I looked it up in the debug consoel for PC and it;s a reskinned/colored armor thats already in Witcher 3. I think its one of the skellige type armors. Matter of fact there are a few Witcher 1 & 2 named items in witcher but they have a different appearance.

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omarfield

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@falloutwanderer: yeah I know its a reskinned version of redanian halberdiers armor I just really want it because in my opinion its the best looking armor in the game ive looked all over kaer morhen too I still havnt found its pissing me off

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Falloutwanderer

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@omarfield: Items spawn randomly, I believe level, location etc. If you play on PC you can console command the armor. Are you sure its even available without spawning it with console commands using the debug console mod? I just looked it up, all relic drops are random. Your not going to find it in one location. Try guarded treasure locations. I read one person found it by Frischlow in southern Velen. Like I said, its random unless you spawn it via console commands.

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zoopsat

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This is how paid DLC is done. I like it when it's actually story driven. I get so mad when I see games like "uncharted" do DLC and it's just new weapon packs or crap no one plays anyway.

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tootsinmyguuts

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@zoopsat: Agree, same thing with Halo and such that would make you buy little map packs.

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lasvideo

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Edited By lasvideo

Whats really cool is on the the PC with this Mod

http://www.nexusmods.com/witcher3/mods/598/?

you can now play Witcher 3 IN FIRST PERSON. And dynamically manipulate the camera to your liking in different situations. Zoom in, zoom out, elevate or lower. Its the thing this game so desperatly needed to make it my fav submersive experience.

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DEVILTAZ35

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@lasvideo: I't's still work in progress though isn't it?

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tootsinmyguuts

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@lasvideo: I prefer it the way it is.

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CrusaderProphet

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And it will probably even have way better and more content than entire $140 Destiny & Co.

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siarhei

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Edited By siarhei

Spoilers, GS!

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heretrix

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The Witcher 3 has some of the best quest arcs that I have ever played. It's amazing how well written they are and they never really seem to feel like filler. The storytelling is lightyears ahead of most of the crap the industry is churning out these days. More story in this case is not a bad thing.

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CatAtomic999

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@heretrix: Could not agree more. The writing in the Witcher 3 is really well done-- the way little side quests fill in back story on other side quests, often casting things in a completely different light is just brilliant. Then there are all of the unintended, but completely believable, consequences of your actions.

It's the new high water mark for game writing, imho. It's not trying to be a movie or a book, and takes full advantage of it's particular medium.

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ceaseless

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Edited By ceaseless

@heretrix said:

The Witcher 3 has some of the best quest arcs that I have ever played. It's amazing how well written they are and they never really seem to feel like filler. The storytelling is lightyears ahead of most of the crap the industry is churning out these days. More story in this case is not a bad thing.

This is one of the most important things in video game history. It's hard to go back to some other games with side (fetch/filler) quests and take them serious anymore after playing Witcher 3. Other games will need to step it up!

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MrBunson

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I liked this game....it was pretty good. Something about it though just made me want to finish it and move on. MGSV is a great game, as was Arkham Knight. I just think that FO4 is going to blow all of these games out of the fucking water.....

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blutiger_engel

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Edited By blutiger_engel

@MrBunson: All three of them? No way. Will it be as good as MGS:V and/or TW3? Maybe. It might even be slightly better overall. Blowing them out of the water is just not happening. That is coming from a lifelong Fallout fan, F1, F2 and even F:Tactics included.

With how beth does games, you can almost bet the story is not going to bring anyone to their knees, and that alone will make F4 worse in that aspect, than TW3 (amazing writing in both quality and quantity).

If game X is worse in any important area of game design (story is very important, especially in an RPG), than game Y, than game X simply cannot blow game Y out of the water. And all this debate comes before we've even seen any of F4 gameplay (except gameplay trailers, which do not show actual gameplay), which might not be a masterpiece in game design either.

F4 is still a mystery. I would hope for it to be the best Fallout to date. Will it be that good? It remains to be seen.

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MrBunson

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Edited By MrBunson

@blutiger_engel That was a really weird response. Thanks for the laugh!!

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arkhenon

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I definitely can't wait for it either. Even though I still need to finish MGS V, and need to have enough time for Fallout 4 (Among all the work that I should do), Witcher franchise can always have enough credit for me to push it to priority. It's twenty hours or so anyway... (If they say ten, I guess that'll be twenty, right? :) ).

Witcher 3 was pretty much the highlight of the year for me, nevermind the fact that I was waiting for the game since Witcher 2. So yeah, definitely my priority when it comes out ;)

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