Revisiting The Witcher 3: Critique/Discussion


#1

Alright this isn’t actually a bait, but with everyone talking about the Witcher again I HAVE to ask this community if there’s ANYONE else out there who actively disliked that game. I’m thinking of giving it another shot seeing the sustained love it gets, and I would love to know what people like about it (I mean this in the least snarky way).

So mechanically the game annoyed me right off the bat. When I realized you were limited to one type of weapon and 5 spells, I was disappointed, but that’s forgivable. After 50 hours though, the combat NEVER clicked for me - it was too floaty to feel good on hard difficulties, and too forgiving to feel gratifying on east. I also found the graphical presentation really offputting, and the world itself felt too distant and blurry to be impactful.

That’s all stuff I’ve worked passed in other games though. What I couldn’t get passed was Geralt and his dumb face and his gross hair and his utter lack of depth. I found no part of him engaging or relatable as a character, and as a consequence I found the main story relationships with other, cooler, characters offputting as well. Additionally, I really hate when games line up sexual encounters like a shooting gallery - I refused any relationship because I refused to believe any human would NOT be disgusted by his hair, but it definitely felt like the game was pushing for a shooting gallery/bang checklist kind of thing, I could be wrong.

ANYWAY this really isn’t meant to be a bitter complain-fest, I think it’s awesome that so many people love it - I just wanna know what you all got out of it that made it so memorable. From what I remember of my playthrough, the only thing that I really liked were the NPC side quest interactions, which I thought were generally better written and more engaging than the main game. Okay! I’m done! Why did YOU like it?!

EDIT: Shouts out to everyone for much better, nuanced critiques. I entirely forgot about some of the more violent misogyny stuff. Please replace my detailed critique of Geralt’s hair with “abysmal treatment of sex workers” in the original post


#2

First off, you previously put 50 hours into The Witcher III, didn’t like it, and now you want to play it again? I get trying to get new perspective on a game, but dawg, don’t put yourself through that! And I say this as someone who like the game quite a bit!

As for why I liked it, I found the writing and world to be fantastic, and I was always happy to check out the next little village or camp to hopefully find yet another well-written quest. The combat was bad, I’ll give you that, but that doesn’t matter once you crank down the difficulty, so that’s what I did. Gwent was fun, walking through Novigrad never got old, and boy did that game just look good. The sex thing wasn’t a problem, because Triss was my day one from The Witcher II and my Geralt ain’t no cheater.

But yeah, if you don’t like it, you don’t like it. It’s kinda like RDR2, where what everyone is gushing about it all sound awful to me. No big, I’ve got plenty of games to play, so live and let live.


#3

Right now for me it’s kinda like buying a boat, taking it out once, and letting it sit - I feel like there are wonderful experiences waiting for me and I have an economic incentive to force myself through them. I played through on Hard, and also entirely skipped Gwent which actually looks cool as hell. Maybe I’ll put a dozen hours in on easy and see how I’m feeling :ok_hand:


#4

A old boss of mine (who owned a boat) said that if the happiest day of your life with a boat was the day you bought it, the next happiest was the day you sold it (this maybe has no direct relationship to game ownership however)


#5

There are dozens of us!

I gave it a lot of time after basically the entire Internet gaming world yelling at me about it, and…couldn’t really stand Geralt and the world. I hated how the game treated women with everyone I met being either what seemed to be a scantily-clad sex object (many of whom you first meet naked) who wants to jump Geralt or a peasant in rags (I get it’s an adaptation, but maybe that means I wouldn’t like the books, either). I had not long before been playing a lot of Dragon Age and I really missed seeing women in, like, political roles and military roles and merchants and craftspeople and the like. I finally punched out for good after the Whoreson Junior quest’s resolution, where it felt like they just put a bunch of dead naked women on display to show how edgy and “mature” the story was.

I have zero desire to ever go back to it, honestly.

EDIT: and subsequent CDPR social media incidents make me really never want to go back to it, because I can’t disassociate the negative experiences I had with TW3’s world from the viewpoints the company barely walks back from.


#6

The game is def not trying to be a checklist, if you tried to have romantic relationships with two women at once you’d get told to fuck off by both later on.


#7

At a base level I didn’t like how the gameplay felt. The combat is often touched on, and yeah I HATE it. Even when I come out on top, it doesn’t feel like I did anything meaningful. The general feel of moving through the world just felt bad. It never felt smooth. If I can’t tolerate the basic locomotion of a game it is hard to ever want to experience its stories.


#8

This is definitely how I felt, but it seems like there was little to no critical pushback and even now the legacy of the game is overwhelmingly positive. I forgot entirely about the Whoreson Junior quest, even. All the women were really cool and interesting, but nonetheless it felt like mechanically there game was saying “alright, here are the options, take your pick of sexual victory” and I felt weird implicating the characters in that?


#9

Cranked the difficult down pretty quick and never tried putting it back up again, despite that or because of that I really enjoyed all the combat. Once you get some different powers for the runes it got quite fun, and the big hunts were exciting with some added tactics.

The world is an amazing place to explore, plenty of interesting stories both fun and sad and stuff in-between. It looks beautiful. Geralt is a good character (one of the few with good voice-acting in the game, yeah, that’s my opinion!!), easy to like, I’d gladly spend more time with him. Story is mostly good, side-quests are good.

Not saying anyone has to like the game, but I found it extremely easy to do so.


#10

It became one of my favorite games of the last few years only after I bumped the difficulty down to easy and got to focus on the story and worldbuilding instead of needing to go into a messy item menu to oil my sword before every encounter and then mashing square and triangle intermittently. There is also an alternate movement mode they added in response to people saying walking around felt sluggish and unresponsive, which is worth trying out. The combat is fine and functional, but I never found it very fun.

ALSO I think anyone who wants to play it should just play the Blood and Wine DLC. I wish that it was standalone, it still has a gorgeous open world with a ton of cool side quests but more importantly a much more focused, self-contained, gratifying main story with some of my favorite characters in that game.


#11

Do what I did:

  • Play for 2 hours
  • Realize it is not that fun
  • Tell your roommate that there is a new game for PS4 in the house
  • Wait for them to play it and realize it’s not that fun
  • Wait for their girlfriend to pick it up and start enjoying it
  • Every couple of days walk into the TV room while she’s playing and ask what is going on in the game
  • Repeat the last step every couple of days for like 3 months

#12

I’ve been playing it on and off over the last year. There are parts of it I actively dislike and other bits that keep me coming back to it. I abandoned my first play through around when it came out because it did not click for me. I returned to it after talking about it over brunch with a friend and am now a fan.

The NPC side quest interactions and gwent are my two favourite parts of the game. That combined with the aesthetic of the world, the soundtrack and the pace make it a winner for me. Missions have a flow to them which makes a 45 minute play session just as satisfying as a 3 hour one.

I treat The Witcher III as a meditative checklist where small village drama matters as much as national politics. It is a game I keep knocking back chunks over time and am not worried about “finishing.” I’m sure I’ll get to the end eventually but that is not what is guiding my play sessions.

Like you, I’ve found it hard to connect or care about Geralt. Returning to it after playing through Bloodborne highlighted how unsatisfying some of The Witcher’s combat can be. If these things are souring the experience for you then do not pick it up again. The Witcher III is not a perfect game and you’re not wrong for disliking it.


#13

[quote=“NameBrandKara, post:5, topic:18437”](I get it’s an adaptation, but maybe that means I wouldn’t like the books, either)
[/quote]

Impressively the Witcher 3 game is classy and meticulously nuanced compared to the books.


#14

Put me in the weird camp of “the narrative felt kind of OK but didnt grab me” mixed with “I actually love the combat and movement”.

The game feels like shit with a controller. Its fine with a mouse and keyboard.


#15

It’s a great game with one major flaw: pacing and momentum. I like so many aspects of the game but it’s so often find myself in a place where it’s too easy to put the controller down after a quest and forget about the game for months at a time. Why that is I don’t know when i find so much of the game wonderful. Probably because its so much game. Funnily enough, that’s an issue more games are running into as they try and imitate The Witcher 3.


#16

I’m giving it my third attempt and I am right on the verge of being able to get over the awful laggy controls and the way that you can’t pick things up without looking at them and the camera and stuff because it is pretty and some of the quests have been sorta interesting. I’m like level 10.

I don’t think it’s bad exactly but I would hardly rate it as a life-changing experience. It’s above average to me. 7/10 on an actual ten point scale.

The introductory monster hunt was kinda cool, with the detective work and all, but I can’t see it sustained for a whole game, because the followup one with the ghost was already kinda dull.


#17

It lost me in the first chapter.

I’m just so done with boring lead characters in RPGs. If I can’t make a character, you make a character, and put it in the game, and tell me their story. I’m fine with that.

This “choose your own adventure” role playing stuff, without a character? Nah.

Two games got by on promising big, and not delivering. Just not interested in a third, particularly a longer one, particularly after really losing my patience with the company on several fronts.

I set to the highest difficulty, hearing the game was actually interesting as a survival challenge that way. It just wasn’t. You pop a shield on, and never take damage. Like… I just… the whole intro was eye rolling “yeah, okay, that tracks I guess.” for boring RPG story.

Oh, there’s a woman you’re after. Sure.
Uh oh, military blockade, gunna have to do something for them. (Oh, they’re being mean to civilians! Oh wow!)
Hey, fight this monster. Yay! You saved the-

I don’t care. I just don’t care.
It looks very pretty. Outside looks very pretty too. If just going on a walk listening to a podcast has your open world beat, I’m probably just gunna do that these days though.


#18

I bounced off it after maybe 15 hours. I agree on the combat, it never grabbed me. I found playing Geralt weird, he isn’t a character I created, but a pre-existing character in the world. Given that having tons of options about what kind of person he is felt very bizarre.

I also started to feel like every quest had some kind of dark twist, much like M Night Shyamalan movies twists get less impactful the more you do them.

Last thought on negatives, having enemies of drastically different levels scattered around the map was pretty annoying, that combined with how scattershot the quests were meant I spent a lot of time avoiding areas and backtracking.

The game is really pretty and its a well realized world, but that wasn’t enough for me.


#19

I overall quite enjoyed TW3 (even though there were moments I was glad no one was watching me play this thing), but there are a ton of things I disliked about it all the same.

  • The messaging around sex and gender in this game is terrible. Just, super bad. Which was weird, because there were a number of better than average female characters (in terms of detail and agency), but the way the game then treats them undermines that.
  • There didn’t seem to be any reasonable way not to deal with some romance plot (Unlike Bioware, which kinda gives you the side eye if you avoid romance plots, it still lets you stay out of it). I know you can reject everyone but you still have to do that. Arg.
  • I didn’t like Gwent. I didn’t like how nearly everyone seemed to be a secret Gwent enthusiast, no matter how out of character it felt.
  • For all that the the game renders its world quite beautifully, there’s not much in the way of “calm” activity to do. I guess that was supposed to be Gwent?
  • I like how Geralt looks (the old warrior trope is definitely my thing, and I have to admit, I liked the haircut system), but there are limits to how much of his whinging I can take.
  • While it’s better than most games at telegraphing the nature of the choices you’re going to make, there were a number of times I had to go “Wait, what the the hell, Geralt, that’s not what I meant!”

#20

I fell into a hype trap twice for the Witcher games, I tried to play 2 numerous times to no avail, and had the exact experience with 3, and I can’t quite place …whyyy?
I think some of that is owed to the pacing and its structure, but also just moving around in that game and interacting with its systems never felt great.

I envy those who have sunk 80+ hours enjoyable hours into those games, but idk, just not for me.
It’s the same reason why when the hype was bubbling around Cyberpunk 2077 I wasn’t too enthused because it was still coming from the Witcher devs, or Red Dead 2 because of Rockstar’s history of poorly controlling games.

It’s comforting to know your tastes, but at the same time frustrating to still feel a FOMO and an alienation around these big acclaimed games.