A return to fantasy done right.
I spent a ton of time in Witcher 3 and the base content it offered. It was massive and filled with tons of quests and activities to do. It’s arguably one of my top games of the year. While I wasn’t prepared for how seemingly quick the expansion released, I finally dived back into a world with Geralt, and it’s just as pleasing as before.
Geralt takes on a new quest that features our main character getting dragged into what appears to be just a normal monster hunt. This takes on new life though, as killing this creature is just the tip of something much larger, with major repercussions at play. Soon Geralt is taken away and greeted by a mysterious character he met only for a short moment in the main story, and here takes on a much greater role. I won’t spoil who it is, but it’s surprising how such a seemingly non-intrusive character in the main game can turn into something much larger.
Platforms: PS4, XB1, PC
Price I’d Pay: $9.99
How long to beat: 10+ hours
Same face, new adventure
An interesting feature allows for players to either start the game with their own leveled Geralt, which requires a fairly strong level 30 and above. Thankfully, folks can also start with a pre leveled version, so if players never made it that far, they are not excluded from checking out the expansion and its new story. While the gameplay elements featured here are all the same from the base game, there is the new ability to enhance items now which can give way to some better equipment.
The story takes place over the same map and is integrated so well that I honestly kept questioning if what I was seeing was new or something that I just hadn’t stumbled upon. It’s a great feeling, and while it’s a little bit of both in reality, it feels seamless and in an open world game, works to its favor. With exciting quests that barely feely like a retread of the entire main story, there is a lot to love here.
While there is only one new enemy type, there are some interesting boss battles. While I enjoyed them and the expansion overall, fair point to know is that the difficulty is fairly high. I proceeded to get my butt kicked even from a group of drowners. Then when meeting the first boss, a huge nasty poison spitting boss, I got Geralts’ ass handed to me, and this was even after putting the difficulty down to easy. It’s partly relearning a game I haven’t touched in months, but also just feels like it’s a fair bit more difficult than the base game.
Geralt is still the man
Hearts of Stone is a fantastic addition to the Witcher 3 world that feels as if it was always a part of the game. It keeps up with the quality that one would expect. It’s refreshing in dialog, hilarious at times, inventive in its quests, and even after 70 plus hours in the core story, coming back to this world was extremely easy and welcomed. The expansion could have just dialed it in, adding some basic quests and minute story elements. Instead we get an expansion that is just as good as other games main stories. Geralt is back, and the wait for the final and longer expansion is going to be tough, yet I’m just happy his story isn’t quite over yet.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.