The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine DLC
A brilliant end to a brilliant RPG.
May 2, 2017 8:59 pm
May 25, 2016 3:00 pm
Duchess Anna Henrietta embodies the complexities of Toussaint itself.
A little unexpectedly for this tale of sun and wine-swigging fun, this is chiefly a tale about vampires. It's generally handled well, even if the main antagonist is never so strongly depicted as the large cast of characters who surround him. He comes off as a petulant though powerful idiot, and his one true moment of complexity vanishes as swiftly as he does when shifting out of corporeal form. He mainly serves to give Geralt's returned friend more complexity. In fact, the vampire framework mainly serves as a backdrop for two good people struggling to justify their affection for their intractable friends and family and the consequences those relationships have for everyone else.Yet the lore is fascinating stuff. The tale takes us deep into Witcher creator Andrzej Sapkowski's strange and fascinating take on vampires, and it maintains momentum by introducing new twists whenever the story seems near a close. It's a brilliant celebration of the varied Witcher experience we've known until now, whether it's through the expected battles, the chumming about at masquerade balls, or Good Guy Geralt lifting age-old curses or even having a showdown with the Big Bad Wolf.
Boss battles generally emphasize swiftness and careful strategic thought.
The color that Blood and Wine brings to The Witcher 3 isn't just limited to landscape. Sometimes it's literal, as in the case of the cosmetic dyes Geralt can use on his Witcher sets (but, unfortunately, not on anything else). A small thing? Perhaps. But it means a lot to people like me who won't even wear an otherwise-good suit of armor if it looks like mismatched garbage. Dyes, too, allowed me to appreciate pieces I already loved in new ways. Take the Ursine armor; with a rich red dye splashed on it, I felt like I was some kind of inquisitor for Game of Thrones' R'hllor.Blood and Wine also introduces us to Geralt of Rivia, landed vintner, after he receives a dilapidated vineyard estate early on (and populated by peasants who seem completely unaware he's the boss). It's the kind of place I personally wouldn't mind retiring on, but it admittedly seems little out of character for Geralt of Rivia, monster slayer extraordinaire and rider of Roaches. I reconcile it by remembering that this expansion represents a retirement of sorts for Geralt. In practice, renovating it grants a great place to show off Geralt's armor and weapons rather than stashing them in a trunk, and a way of gaining some extra bonuses in exchange for gold. A bed, for instance grants Geralt vitality; a renovated stable gives Roach some more stamina. There's even a garden for growing herbs and an alchemy lab that can break down mutagens. That all makes for great reasons to come back and visit every once in awhile, but I do regret that there's virtually no choice involved aside from the decision to fork over some cash to have this or that building repaired.
This is to say nothing of all the new weapons, armors, and goodies like a new Skellige gwent deck that round off the expansion, complete with grandmaster-crafted sets with set bonuses. Often these set bonuses even appear on the non-Witcher-specific sets you'll find, such as my personal favorite suit of vampiric heavy armor, which grants massive melee resistances and restores vitality for each enemy killed as long as I'm wearing at least three of its six pieces.
The expansion also brings mutations which (finally) unlock new skill slots and grant side effect.
All of this stuff might have trivialized the early story and battles, and thus mutations in particular are smartly aimed at giving New Game Plus players an edge as they venture into harder difficulties. As such, you can't even hold your own in the Blood and Wine content until around level 33, so the early game remains challenging. (If you want to skip all that and jump in with a fresh level-35 character, you can.) Still, a patch released alongside the expansion will bring improvements to the user interface for everyone, including a long-overdue option to read new books and letters the second you pick them up.
I do wish we could have at least one more expansion, but Blood and Wine's additions help shore up some of the The Witcher 3's few weak points. It's a good way to leave Geralt. But that doesn't mean I won't miss him.
Blood and Wine ends the saga of Geralt of Rivia in style, bringing with it a tale of charming vampires and troublesome friendship set in a stunning new landscape that departs from the bleakness we've known until now. The expansion also brings some welcome gameplay enhancements, including mutations, the ability to dye armor, and a vineyard for growing herbs. Most of all, it leaves Geralt in a good place.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine Review
Geralt gets a fitting sendoff in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine, courtesy of a strong cast and new items.Leif Johnson