The Witcher 3 Guide: Spoiler-Free Tips To Know Before Starting The Switch Version
With the Nintendo Switch, you can take Geralt on the go.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an enormous action-RPG with a massive world packed with tons of challenging, fun quests to complete and a variety of complex mechanics to wrap your head around. If you’re picking up the game for the first time on Nintendo Switch, then don’t worry if you feel a bit lost during the game’s opening hours. You're not alone--properly playing this game is no easy feat.
To help you better grasp how to play The Witcher 3, we’ve gathered essential wisdom and tips about the game’s most significant systems. Below you can find advice about combat, crafting, leveling up, and more. To better track down your desired subject of interest, click from the table of contents below.
- How to Ensure You Get The Best Story Experience
- Choosing The Right Difficulty
- A Witcher’s Swords
- Breaking Down Signs
- Alchemy 101: Potions, Decoctions, And Weapon Oils
- Pursue Monster Contracts: The Game’s Best Quests
- How To Make The Most Of Skill Trees
For more about The Witcher 3, be sure to read our story explainer, which details everything you need to know about the events leading up to the game before jumping in. If you’re curious about how the game stacks up on Switch, then be on the lookout for our full review in the coming days.
Are you playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for the first time on Nintendo Switch? What are your initial thoughts so far? Let us know in the comments below.
How to Ensure You Get The Best Story Experience
In The Witcher 3, you will meet a ton of characters, undertake dozens of quests, fight a wide range of monsters, and collect new equipment as you level up. One of the biggest draws to The Witcher 3 is its intricate branching narrative. Throughout your adventure, you will make dozens, if not hundreds, of choices, both big and small. Many of these decisions have unforeseeable, far-reaching consequences.
But keep in mind, there is no right or wrong and good or evil in this world. You might think you’re doing the right thing, but 20 hours later, your decision could come back to haunt you. Sure there are better outcomes and endings, but rarely will you walk away thinking you made the best decision under the constant difficult circumstances you're thrown in.
Our most significant piece of advice for those who want a positive ending is to do all the sidequests that relate to critical characters. If you ignore your friends in their time of need, you could be locked out of essential subplots, they may not come to your aid when you need them, and frankly, you’ll be missing some of the game’s best writing.
Choosing The Right Difficulty
When it comes to combat difficulty, we typically tell newcomers that what you get is what you put into it. If you play on an easier difficulty, you can get by with just your swords. But after thirty hours of swinging your swords around, things might start to feel dull or repetitive.
Unless you just want the story and breeze past everything else, we highly recommend playing on the Blood and Broken Bones difficulty. It’s not the hardest difficulty, but it can be quite challenging at times, especially if you aren’t utilizing Geralt’s full set of tools and skills. The most satisfying part of combat is preparing for different fights and finding ways to exploit a monster's weakness. If you play on Sword and Story, you are missing out on a massive part of what makes the game's combat special.
A Witcher’s Swords
When you aren’t making decisions or chatting up NPCs, you’ll be getting into fights. Geralt has two swords on his back to fight enemies with: one silver and one steel. The silver sword is for monsters, and the steel sword is for the real monsters, humans.
Most of the time, Geralt will automatically pull out the correct sword for the encounter, but make a mental note of which sword is what, so you’re not trying to attack a foe with the wrong one. As a reference, the one on the right is his silver sword and the one on the left is his steel sword.
Geralt's swords are your primary means of consistently damaging enemies head-on, so take time to practice and understand how their combos work, as well as how long it takes to dodge or roll out of any given swing.
Breaking Down Signs
Aside from Geralt’s swords and other offensive consumables, his most essential tools in combat are his five spells called Signs. In fact, you will probably use them more often than your swords. Below we detail what each Sign does:
- Aard: A spell that fires off a powerful blast of air
- Igni: A spell that lets Geralt shoot fire from his hands
- Quen: A spell that protects Geralt with a magical shield
- Ydren: A spell that stuns or traps enemies
- Axii: A spell that temporarily makes its target more impressionable
Aard and Igni are reasonably straight forward. Aard can stun enemies, and Igni can set them ablaze. These signs are perfect for crowd control, but early on, they aren’t super effective. On the other hand, Quen is a solid opener for any fight, as it can protect you from incoming hits, big or small. It's worth noting that if it’s a big hit, Geralt might get knocked to the ground, though he won’t sustain any damage. Quen is an excellent spell for beginners who decide to play on harder difficulties because it'll protect you in critical moments.
Ydren has specific uses, but chances are you probably won’t need it all that often. Only a handful of monsters are weak to it, such as wraiths.
Finally, Axii can stun an enemy for a short time. If you use it on a human, they will stand still momentarily in a daze. It's worth mentioning that Axii is the only sign that you can use outside of combat. If you see this symbol next to a dialogue option, it means that Geralt is going to try to brainwash the person he’s talking to.
As you level up, you can invest in Geralt’s signs to unlock alternate versions of them. For example, if you invest in Quen, Geralt can cast a force field that not only protects him but regenerates his health with each hit an enemy lands. This sign is handy as it offers a great way to conserve healing resources.
Alchemy 101: Potions, Decoctions, And Weapon Oils
Swords and Signs are only half of a Witcher’s tools. They’re also fantastic alchemists, being able to craft a variety of temporary stat-boosting consumables, such as potions, decoctions, and weapon oil.
To make these valuable items, you’ll want to loot all the ingredients you can. Geralt’s invisible backpack holds an almost infinite amount of ingredients, so there’s no harm in looting every monster, corpse, barrel, chest, and plant. However, you can’t just craft anything from the get-go. You will need to find recipes scattered throughout the world first.
The beauty of potions, decoctions, and weapon oils is that if Geralt has alcohol in his inventory, they’ll all be replenished every time he meditates. You only ever need to craft these items from the crafting menu once. Below you can find more details about potions, decoctions, and weapon oils.
Potions are temporary physical buffs to Geralt. Two of the most well-known Witcher potions are Lighting, a potion that increases Geralt’s strength, and Swallow, a potion that heals Geralt over time. The game does an excellent job of making sure you get both of these potions early on, but we recommend crafting Swallow as soon as possible as it’s the most reliable way to heal Geralt in a pinch. Be mindful that Witcher potions are incredibly toxic, and Geralt can only handle consuming a few before he gets sick, which can prove fatal.
Decoctions are more potent potions. They require rarer ingredients and only hold one charge instead of the standard potion’s three. They also last much longer and are far more toxic than Geralt’s standard potions.
Weapon oils can be applied to Geralt’s swords to give him a damage boost against certain types of enemies. If you are having trouble with any monster, check the bestiary for the specific oil that's most effective against it.
Pursue Monster Contracts: The Game’s Best Quests
Once you are familiar with most of Geralt’s weapons and tools, it’ll be time to fight some monsters. In the Witcher 3, there are main quests, side quests, and the most rewarding of them all, monster contracts. Monster contracts don’t affect the main story, but they are a fantastic way to earn money and fight some of the game’s coolest bosses. Better yet, most of these missions are elegantly simple. More often than not, these quests have exciting characters and neat twists that are worth experiencing.
Most monster contracts are structured similarly. You’ll start by meeting the person who posted the contract, interview any victims and witnesses, track down the monster, and then fight it. If you take our advice and play on a harder difficulty, then these fights can be tough. Check your bestiary, craft the necessary oils and potions, and equip the right weapons. Most of these quests are more complex and morally ambiguous than their simplistic premises sound, so if the initial quest hook sounds interesting, chances are it won’t disappoint you.
How To Make The Most Of Skill Trees
As you complete quests and kill enemies, Geralt will level up and earn ability points. You can invest your ability points into four different skill trees: Combat, Signs, Alchemy, and General. The catch is that you can only activate a few of these skills at once. In the “Character” menu, you can see your skill trees to the right and your active skills, or mutations, on the left. When you start, you will only have a few slots unlocked, so you’ll need to pick your mutations wisely.
At first glance, a lot of these abilities, perks, and mutations may seem inconsequential. Many of them only offer a small percentage of bonuses and slight buffs. However, there is a bit of strategy in picking your mutations that can strengthen them significantly. First, you’ll want each group of active mutations to match, which means that you'll want to keep all your combat perks in the same quadrant. If you have three red combat perks in the same section, all the abilities in that section will be strengthened. It may seem like a lot at first, but the most important thing to remember is to match colors.
One final thing worth pointing out is that general perks and mutations don’t get a buff if you match them together. We recommend investing in a few of these early on, but when you start to unlock more mutation slots, it’s best to ignore this skill tree altogether.