The Witcher 3 is not that great

Disclaimer: if you are a really devoted fan of this game, just don’t read this article. You won’t like it.

I admit I use this blog to vent a bit, or to put it more mildly, to express some of my less popular opinions on geek culture. It’s not intended to be contrarian per se, because there are times when I agree with the majority. Rather, from time to time I want to write what I feel isn’t being written or said enough. There will be articles where I just gush all over a movie or a game that doesn’t get the respect it deserves, but there will also be times that are the opposite of that: when I want to knock something down from its undeserved pedestal. This is one of those times.
Last year there was a lot of talk about a certain video game involving a white-haired protagonist with a gruff voice. “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” has received mountains of praise and awards. Many say it’s the greatest video game RPG of all time. One of my best friends is a massive fan of the Witcher franchise and he shares this opinion.
For a long time, I was very resistant to the game, but I finally did succumb and decided to give it a fair shot. I played the first Witcher game back in 2008, although I never finished it. I found it a very frustrating experience, beautiful to look at but horrible to play. I tried a demo of the second Witcher game and decided it was a continuation of those same trends.
Now in 2016, a year after the original release, I have finally played The Witcher 3 (partially).
Do I think it’s a good game? Well, objectively, it has enough good qualities to give it a passing grade. Calling The Witcher 3 just plain bad across the board is unfair. It has too much to offer and it was clearly made with too much love and effort to simply bash it like that. Nevertheless, I really don’t think it is at all the masterpiece so many people have made it out to be. I would say it’s a rather mediocre game that gets some extra points for effort and good customer relations on the part of developer CD Projekt Red.


Here are some quotes I pulled from Metacritic:

“Witcher 3 is a masterpiece”
“the best fantasy RPG I have played to date”
“one of the best games I have ever played in my entire gaming experience”

Those first two quotes are from official reviewers, by the way.
Call me stupid, low-brow or, heaven forbid, “casual”, but I really don’t see it. The Witcher 3 just barely makes it to “adequate” in my book, and it definitely won’t enter my top 10 list. It’s not exciting enough for me to finish playing, not because it’s a completely horrible playing experience, but because it’s not good enough to justify the enormous amounts of time that it demands.
First of all, you should know that a late medieval, heavily European dark fantasy setting with grim fairy tale-like aspects sounds exactly like my kind of thing. It’s actually a description that applies to a good deal of my own work as a writer. This is partly why I’m so conflicted about The Witcher 3. I probably would have just shrugged and moved on if there had been nothing about it to appeal to me. As it is, the environments, the clothing, the creatures, even the colour palette, are all so finely tuned to my personal tastes it’s almost weird. And I’m the kind of player who is primarily into gaming for the chance to be immersed in another world. It’s certainly not the aesthetics of The Witcher 3 that put me off. If anything, they were what drew me in and kept me playing for as long as I did.

peopleThe character of Geralt is growing on me, but I feel extremely confined playing as him. Geralt is an established character I don’t particularly like. It feels weird playing a roleplaying game and not having any say over your character’s personality. The dialogue system is great and allows players to showcase different sides of Geralt’s personality, but he is still Geralt, the taciturn, sarcastic, womanizing witcher. He is a well written version of that type, I suppose, but it’s just not a type I want to embody.

The setting is great, but the whole thing is brought down by how it is handled. The creators of this game have tried to combine mysterious tales of the grim and supernatural (orphaned children in the forest playing with a ghostly friend who lives in a cave and has lost his voice to evil magic) with realistic politics (a war with no clear good or bad side) and even a good dash of the kind of bleak social realism that reminds me of Belgian movies (drunken deadbeat father tries one last time to gain the respect of his family). I suppose to many people this cocktail is precisely what makes it work. Me, I adore the dark fairy tale stuff, I don’t care very much for the politics and I actively despise the “social realism”. I play video games precisely because I don’t want to see that kind of “Belgian movie” material in them. This opinion of mine extends to the entire fantasy genre itself. If you’re going to paint a somber, naturalistic picture, make a movie set in the slums of Dublin or something. This is not what the fantasy genre is for, as far as I’m concerned. Much like award-winning movies, this kind of grit tends to manipulate the audience by tricking it into perceiving an aura of quality and respectability that isn’t really there. It’s just bleakness and social issues, which in themselves have no actual artistic value.

bloodybarronTo illustrate this point: The Witcher 3’s most praised questline was the one involving the Bloody Baron (the aforementioned deadbeat father). Almost every single review and comment I have read about this questline says that it is the narrative peak of the game and the most emotionally powerful quest ever put in a game. For that reason alone, I felt I should at least persevere through this questline, and so I did. After finishing it, I decided to put down the game. I concluded that if this was the best part, I don’t see the point of continuing for another 70 or 80 hours. It wasn’t bad or anything, but it just left me stone cold. By general video game standards, it was a decent, well-structured quest but I didn’t think it was very emotionally engaging and I certainly don’t think it set some kind of new benchmark for in-game storytelling. It’s often over-the-top gloomy while simultanously treating a huge tragedy in a bizarrely careless fashion (I won’t spoil which one) which reeks of amateurish storytelling to me. This tone of extreme gloom mixed with laconic cynicism runs throughout the game and – pessimistic as I am about modern society – I fear this is probably a big part of why the game is so beloved.

On the whole, the storytelling in The Witcher 3 (so far) ranges from adequate to good with frequent dips into the boring and the silly. It certainly feels needlessly stretched, which became obvious to me pretty quickly even though I never even got that far into the game. Point and case: in order to find someone dear to me I need to talk to a character who will tell me where she went if I first find his wife for him. He then sends me to another guy who has seen his wife. That NPC will tell me where the the previous NPC’s wife went, if I first find… his goat! The quest-in-a-quest structure, with each additional layer becoming more banal than the last, borders on self-parody.

In addition, there is a big problem with the pacing and the structure of the storyline. The writers seem to forget that what might work in a Christopher Nolan movie doesn’t necessarily work in a game. The narrative jumps around in time and place in ways that just don’t fit the medium. For example: the game opens with a pre-rendered cinematic that shows a flashback of Yennefer (whom you do not know if this is your first experience with the franchise) on the run from a battle. The scene is intercut with Geralt looking for her the next day (very reminiscent of Aragorn tracking the hobbits in The Two Towers). The game then opens with an in-game cinematic of Geralt sleeping, followed by … another flashback? No, apparently, it’s a tutorial in the form of a dream, involving Geralt in the Witcher stronghold with his true love Yennefer, Geralt’s friend Vesimir and a child, Ciri, in there. You later find out that this doesn’t make sense because Yennefer was never in the Witcher stronghold and Ciri is actually an adult now. The dream turns bad, Geralt wakes up, and then we find out that he’s actually looking for Yennefer, not Ciri (ah yes, that opening cinematic!) but now he’s also worried about Ciri because of the dream. But first he has to find Yennefer. Getting a headache yet?
Okay, so the actual game begins with a long sidequest involving a griffon that has nothing to do with Yennefer or Ciri. Then you meet Yennefer… And you have to go look for Ciri. It’s a very clunky structure for a story by any standards, but especially for a game. Players with no knowledge of the backstory will be particularly confused.

As you are playing, Geralt’s adventures are often intercut with flashbacks where you get to play as Ciri. A terrible idea if ever there was one, for a variety of reasons. First of all, Ciri shows herself to be infinitely more powerful than Geralt ever was. Playing her feels like cheating. This makes the whole idea of rescuing her feel completely unnecessary. Secondly, the sequences involving Ciri really amount to nothing more than glorified cutscenes, where the playable parts are actually quite annoying because they are pointlessly easy and – what’s worse – the cause of more lengthy loading screens. Finally, these sequences take away the feeling of roleplaying and dampen the urgency of the narrative. You’re yanked out of your experience of “being Geralt” and given insight he shouldn’t have. It would have been better if Geralt had simply heard about Ciri’s whereabouts and that’s it (even though the game is already far too verbose).

That brings me to the next issue: the dialogue. I suppose it is well-written, but it feels too much like the writers are patting themselves on the back for how smart and snappy their writing is. I personally prefer the silly faux-Arthurian language of older RPG’s, which is much more charming to my ears. This feels a bit too much like HBO for my tastes. For the record: I adore Tolkien and I don’t give half a crap about Game of Thrones. That should say something about my preferences in style.

Anyway, despite these qualms, the story was still enjoyable enough, albeit far from amazing. I would probably have continued playing if the game had been, you know… fun.
And this is my biggest gripe with The Witcher 3. It’s simply not fun to play. Granted, the awards and the praise this game has received probably tell a different story, but as far as I’m concerned, they should have just made it into a movie or a TV series and it would have been much better (still not quite my cup of tea, but at least something that could have worked). As a game, to me it was actually a dry, joyless experience that demands to be taken seriously while simultaneously holding your hand like you’re a toddler.

abilitiesYes, this game, which had so many fans exclaim “finally, a true RPG!”, stifles and restricts the player in ways no other RPG in my memory has ever done… which kind of defeats the point of it being an RPG if you ask me. Not only are you restricted to playing as Geralt, but Geralt’s abilities are also very narrow and predetermined. He’s a swordfighter who uses alchemy and a staggering repertoire of no less than FIVE magic spells! Sure, you also get a crossbow at one point, but that’s more of a fun little accessory than anything else since it’s so weak. Everyone in the world who plays The Witcher 3 is playing the same character and probably with a very similar build, not only because the amount of abilities and weapon choices is so limited, but also because some abilities are clearly overpowered compared to others. For example: Quen is a magic ability that makes Geralt completely invulnerable for a while. Obviously, upgrading this ability is going to pay off much more than investing all your points in Aard, which is simply a telekinetic blast.

On top of that, leveling up is a gruelingly slow process, even early on. If it’s anything like other games, the pace will only get more glacial as you play longer.
The game also really holds your hand in the bread and butter of the gameplay. It’s like one big tutorial. You’re always following on-screen instructions. Most quests require you to go look for something or someone. This is when you get to activate your Witcher Senses, which amounts to pushing a button that lights up important clues in red. Simply follow the clues and click on them. Geralt will then mumble something to himself like “Blood’s still warm… Can’t have gone too far…” or “Hmm, small print… Must have been a child” or something like that. It’s a fun little gimmick at first but it quickly becomes mind-numbingly boring.

Gameplay is constantly interrupted by cutscenes. Sure, they look great, but they take me out of the game the whole time. See someone waving at you in the distance? Approach them and there will be a cutscene, I promise you. There’s a good chance Geralt will also be saying a bunch of dialogue you never chose to have him say, but don’t forget, this is a “true RPG”!

The “open world” is to be taken with a planet-sized grain of salt, by the way. Everything in the game is locked to a specific level, so it actually plays out more like an MMO where you move from one zone to the next. Sure, the zones are relatively big and there is “much to do” in each zone, but in practice this really amounts to little more than a few bandit camps and monster nests spread out over an otherwise featureless, boring map. Look, I love forests. I really do. And at first I liked walking around in The Witcher 3’s pretty woodlands, but they became extremely dull and repetitive very quickly. There’s just no real sense of discovery in this game, especially when compared to Skyrim but frankly, even Guild Wars 2 does it better. Don’t expect to get sidetracked by spontaneous adventures in multi-layered dungeons or discovering unique fortresses, statues, strongholds, hideouts, shrines, lakes, waterfalls or anything actually interesting like that. Don’t think for a moment that you will be rewarded for venturing into the wild by finding an awesome ancient treasure. Don’t think you will meet lonely travellers who can teach you a skill or sell you a unique trinket. The Witcher 3 offers only a pale shadow of the sense of freedom you get in Bethesda games.

Now, the worst part of The Witcher 3 is the combat and the movement. Others have remarked this, but Geralt is kind of hard to handle and his horse is even worse. Unfortunately, moving around and fighting are the two most important and common things you’ll be doing in the game (well, after watching cutscenes, that is). Fighting is simply a very poor version of the kind of combat you see in action games like the Batman Arkham series, Dark Souls or Kingdoms of Amalur. It’s actually reminiscent of older European RPG’s like Gothic. Geralt dances around like a ballerina, swishing his sword in ways that stop looking cool after the second fight, so you’re really just making a fool of yourself prancing around like the Witcher fairy princess. With every attack, the guy just has to make a twirl. He must get really dizzy and disoriented during these fights, which is one thing the controls emulate perfectly.

There are lots of other little annoyances and bits of criticism I could add, like the absolutely horrible “item degradation” mechanic, by which I mean the fact that your weapons and armour break down after a while and become useless until you repair them. This mechanic was in Oblivion (a game I still love and play) and I hated it there. In The Witcher 3, it bothers me even more because everything involving repairing and crafting is such a chore here. But the truth is I probably would have shrugged at this and other complaints and just enjoyed the game anyway if, at its core, it had been a fun game. The big problem is, there are times when it barely feels like a game at all. To me it’s like the developers are so sure of their artistic vision and storytelling skills that they expect the player to just go along and let them take over the controller. I really, really miss some real player agency. “What do you mean, player agency? No other RPG gives you so many choices with such real consequences!”

on the road
See, I don’t really care about those “choose-your-own-adventure” type consequences that everyone’s always talking about. Sure, we get to make choices in the quests which lead to different outcomes, but I honestly don’t care all that much about that. Besides, what does it matter if you cannot predict the outcome anyway and quests end in some form of tragedy no matter what you do? That kind of “choice” is not what I mean by player agency in an RPG. What I want is the ability to have some input into what the experience is to begin with. I don’t want to just make reactive decisions based on situations that are forced upon me. I want to be able to use my imagination. I know very few games outside of The Elder Scrolls series really give you that option, but at least Bioware’s games allow you to craft your character’s personality and abilities according to your own preference. CD Projekt seems to be proud of taking away your ability to make the game your own. The Witcher 3 feels like going to a restaurant where there’s no menu because the chef is so amazing he’ll make what he wants and you’re going to like it! Except I don’t like The Witcher 3’s food all that much. The whole thing feels shoved down my throat. And that, more than anything, is what makes it ultimately a rather dull and oppressive experience, in my opinion.

By Clark Kent Without Glasses Tagged

66 comments on “The Witcher 3 is not that great

  1. You should say the baron quest is “poorly” constructed instead of well constructed according to the later complaints. XD

    Anyway, TW3 became too edgy and grimdork to catch the GOT audience so I cannot find myself like it. Many moving story parts according to reviewers had no better plot than another Hong Kong TVB daytime soap opera… really disappointed since I played the previous 2 games (although the 2nd game had signs turning into this serious grimdork business as well)

    • Thanks for commenting!

      When I wrote that it was well constructed, I was thinking purely in terms of the mechanics of storytelling. It’s undeniably sophisticated by video game standards in that regard, with its use of foreshadowing, flashbacks and other modern storytelling techniques. However, there is definitely a good argument to be made that what works for TV shows and novels doesn’t work for a game. I for one didn’t enjoy the flashbacks where I was forced to play as Ciri, because they reduced the sense of agency and immersion further. And here I am again, starting with a positive point and then turning it into a criticism 🙂 I think you’re right, I should just go all the way 🙂

      I completely agree with you about the grimdork business. I think that is the underlying reason why I always felt a certain resentment towards the Witcher series. Anyway, thanks for your comment and I have to say it’s nice not to be shouted down by angry fanboys for once 🙂

  2. Thank you!

    I’ve actually just googled “I don’t like witcher 3” as I thought I was doing something wrong by not enjoying it!

  3. Hi there! I spent 300 hours, I found all alchemy in this game, played all DLC’s. And you now, you are absolutely right about everything.

    This game is overhyped, I was in hype too. But after finishing the game I found that I can’t remember something very cool about it. Witcher 3 really should be some interactive movie. Fight mechanics are very poor. Sword style is OMFG horrible and ugly. I played alchemist\mage build on keyboard so it gave some sort of tatcics. But how people can play W3 on controller? On controller you can play only as a swordsman with very dissapointing mechanics.

    Story telling is strange too – faster find Ciri, but don’t forget to play Gwent! 😀 Some sidequest will disappear after main story quests, so developers just push you to do them. So very is no way to make fast playthrough ‘cuz – “OMFG your level is too low, get there and make some sidequest”.

    The first witcher was much better, try it. I think you’ll like it. And DLC for Witcher 3 is much better than the orginal story. Try to play hearts of stone, at least, there is a good evil guy.

    So, you are right my friend. Never mind angry fanboys, if they will appear here someday.

  4. I agree so much with you!
    I am even wondering why people call The Witcher an RPG. For me it plays the same as Assassins Creek, Lara Coft and FarCry. These games are all the same: Looting, slashing and very limited skill trees. They are all very beautiful games, but no RPG!
    I still haven’t found the motivation yet to finish either game.

    • And you don’t have too.DLC can be started separatly from main story in main menu. It’s not very long. I will never start main story again I think. Because I’ve seen everything, and all is waiting me there is constantly skipping the dialogues)))) And by the way Witcher 1 is an RPG, just give a try.

  5. I also stumbled upon this post by googling something like “the witcher 3 is not fun”.

    After playing for 60-70 hours (to my surprise) I now really will drop the game. I tried to play it multiple times and every time I think I’m enjoying it, but in hindsight I see that it was just mindless running around, persuing questlines and just hacking and slashing.

    Last year I played Bloodborne and Dark Souls 3 and loved (!) the combat, the exploration and especially the mastery. The games are hard, but if you push through, in the end you feel that you are getting better as a player, you learn stuff, you grow every time you play. With The Witcher 3 there was totally no sense of improvement. Even after all these hours playing I have no understanding of how all the slots, the spells and stuff work.

    The thing that pulled me back into the game every time was the world and especially the monster designs. They look awesome and I love how they wrote some backstory/lore for every monster. But at the same time I coulnd’t care less for the overall story. I do enjoy some of the side-quests, like how a farmer was cursed and got all his fellow villagers turned into a pigs. That was a funny quest.

    And after reading your post I suddenly recognize what I didn’t like about the main-story … the mixture of the politics (I really don’t care about that bit at all!), the realism shit (like the abusive husband and such)… I just wanted a fantasy story, with monsters and being a total bad ass.

    So thanks for sharing your point of view. The last 1,5 year I tried to play The Witcher 3 a couple of times, mostly because I felt like I was missing something… if everyone thinks it’s awesome – how can I not like it? What am I doing wrong? But now I just see that if I don’t enjoy the story (at all!) and the combat is no fun either (it has no Dark Souls level of complexity or anything, it’s just dashing around) … why should I keep playing it?

    So I will drop it from now on and focus on other games.

      • Dark Souls is totally new experience. You’re alone in the world that wants to kill you. No map, a few traders, uknown purposes and cool gameplay. Dark Souls 2 is bad balanced. DS3 is cool too.

      • Thanks CK (and no worries).

        My first experience with the Souls-series was Bloodborne, but I think I like the DarkSouls 3-experience better. And just like Alan said, it’s a total different experience.
        One thing you have to keep in mind is that you will die, a lot. But every death is a learning experience. You learn not to rush, you learn how a particular enemy attacks, you learn that you should be careful with xyz and more. So every time you learn and you will grow (as a player). And sometimes the game plays tricks with you and often those moments will make me laugh… not because the game is unfair, but because it just fooled me and I was stupid (or eager or greedy) enough to step into the trap.

        And if you are looking for a good story, appereantly the Souls-series (including Bloodborne) have some deep lore…. but it’s all buried very deeply in some obscure items and cutscenes. That didn’t bother me, since I don’t really care that much about story ^^

        I just recently picked up Nioh, which has a lot in common with the Souls-series. I think the gameplay of Nioh is awesome and maybe even more approachable than the Souls-series. The gameplay feels a bit quicker.

        So yes, check out Bloodborne, Dark Souls 3 or Nioh.

      • Too bad I can’t edit my comment, because I totally forgot to highlight some of the great things of the Souls-series:

        – exploration: you discover the map piece-by-piece. Everything is interconnected. So often you will discover shortcuts to previous paths and that feeling is awesome.

        – mastery: when you start, you don’t know anything but after a while you notice you learned how to defeat certain enemies and that will continue until the very end. That feeling of mastery is truly unique and what makes me coming back to these kind of games

        – customisation: you can fully customize your character, how you look in almost every detail (jawbones, chin length and such… it’s really absurd)… in contrast to the Witcher series ^^

        – combat: the combat is really impactful. You have to learn how to fight, how to defeat enemies and how to use the weapons you are given. That depth really give it an unique feeling. Not as floaty as the combat in Witcher. Yes, you also have to dodge/dash … but that all comes with a cost

        And I could just go one about all the great things these games do…. but you should just give it a try.

      • I honestly don’t know. I know DarkSouls3 has some references to Dark Souls 1, but I have no idea how deep they are. It’s not like some other franchises where you have no idea what’s going on if you haven’t played the previous entries.

        My problem is that Dark Souls 1 is only available on Xbox360 / PS3 or PC (with a crappy build where you need to do some tweaks before you can play it). Dark Souls 3 is available on XboxOne, PS4 or PC. And Bloodborne only PS4.

        So I’d suggest you just start where you want. In my opinion it’s the gameplay you will enjoy or not, not the story ^^

      • CK, you can start from DS3. If you like DS3 you can start DS1 because they have something common. In few words: DS world has parallel dimension cycles, so first and third games has common characters, though they have different names. And DS1 needs resolution mod for pc because of poor port.

      • No issue at all. By the way DS3 has dlc released. Dark Souls is about gameplay. It has large background but it’s hidden in items description. It’s up to player to find story or not. And very very important thing is build of character. Spend your skillpoints wisely 🙂

  6. You just made me realize the reason why I hate all of the new games that have been coming out for the last couple of years. they are really boring without the freedom of getting to make your own story. do you have any recommendations for a good RPG because I feel I have played all those that interest me.
    Played: Dark Souls 1 & 3, Dragon Age Origins, Skyrim, Fallout 3(mostly MMORPG after that)

    • Hey, thanks for your feedback! If you liked Fallout 3, you may also like Fallout 4? Other than that,… I personally really enjoyed Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, which came out in 2012. You may also enjoy “Divinity: Original Sin”, especially if you like old-fashioned RPG’s that are closer to tabletop games.

    • If I may, I think Pillars of Eternity was also good but only if you like old-school top-down style rpgs. Do not expect anything like a Bethesda RPG though, only bethesda makes games like those which is kinda good and unique to them but mostly its sad because other studios should also try and make such detailed games.

      Also you can try Mount and Blade. Its a very different type of RPG, do check videos and reviews before getting it.

    • I suggest you to play “Prey”. It isn’t really an RPG and there aren’t any big choices that you can make that would have a huge impact to the main story, BUT it’s the best game I’ve ever played. The experience I had playing that game is something else. Don’t get too hyped though, because hype was the thing that ruined The Witcher 3 for me.

  7. Ahh. People with similar experiences. We seem to be a small group. I have tried three (maybe 4?) times to get into this game. I’m level 23 now and it’s just never really fun. It’s hard for me to put a finger on exactly what it is, but the game is just not that interesting; it doesn’t demand that I explore it.

    The reason I’ve tried so many times to get into it is simple; it’s amazing on so many levels! The side quests are top notch. Rarely, if ever, I felt like I was being handed a fetch quest; everything built up the world and it’s inhabitants. Other developers need to look to these guys on how it is done. The world feels so alive; when I first played, I don’t believe I had ever seen a city look more alive and more natural than in Witcher 3. Also, I thoroughly enjoy Geralt; his voice and demeanor are just great.

    However, though the world may be alive, rarely, if ever, was I driven to explore. It just didn’t draw me in or captivate me as a game like Fallout or Zero Dawn. And as much as I like Geralt, I couldn’t care less about what he’s doing. Near zero draw for me when it comes to the main story; the material would suggest it could be gripping, but I am not gripped.

    Just to touch on it, combat is serviceable, but not really engaging and I’m not a huge fan of the character development system. There is some fun to be had in the side quests but not enough to keep me around for very long.

    Somehow this game just seems less than the sum of it’s parts. Perhaps one day I will take another crack at it, but, for now, it is nice knowing there are at least a few folks out there like me.

    Anyway, thanks for creating a safe place for us to express our extreme minority opinions:)

  8. Couldn’t agree with you more – and like the others, I thought it was just me. I don’t understand the rave reviews. Dull hack and slash with no feeling of ‘being there’. The quests seem well written – but I don’t give a damn about what happens to anyone.

  9. I’ve tried to get into this game, but I just cannot. Maybe if I hadn’t played a single open world game or a role playing game in my life, I would have probably liked this game. But the thing is, everytime I play this game, everything what this game is, is reflected in front of me and that reflection is of a poor game design that is amateurish beyond compare. Especially if you have played games like Skyrim, this looks an attempt by a newbie 13 yr old game developer with 0 experience.

    For me, Witcher 3 is an abomination of video game design and a sad time for the industry when games like these are getting such massive praise. CDPR wouldn’t want to improve their games in the right direction and other development studios will try and adapt to this type of game design, all because of the feedback of the audience, which will be further harmful for the industry.

  10. I’ve learned to accept Witcher 3 for what it is and not for what it isn’t. When I first played it over two years ago, I was moderately enjoying it, but there was always something in my mind that kept nagging me that something felt off about the experience, and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I did finally finish the game about a year later after playing it on and off (about 70 hours total) and I felt mixed emotions. Within the last month, I bought both the Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine Expansions on a deep sale. I finished Hearts of Stone, which was okay, but Blood and Wine is excellent from a story perspective. That’s the thing about Witcher 3, it’s all about the story and world building with the superbly written and acted characters and beautiful environments. As a game it has a lot of problems (combat, the leveling system, the clunky controls, etc.), and that’s why I don’t think it deserves all of those perfect scores. Not enough reviewers are acknowledging the problems, which continues to be a staple of the state of modern professional game reviewers and publications. They’re unreliable. That said, CD Projekt Red deserves credit for it’s storytelling, character development, and world building and for that reason alone, I would give it an 8/10, but I wish the gameplay itself were better.

  11. Amazing post/article bro. It’s great to know that I am not the only one to think that the combat in Witcher 3 is quite dull and bland. I’ve tried to get back into this game many times and I just couldn’t. I’ve spent about 82 hours on the game and I really just don’t have the mood to continue playing it. I stopped, got back to it, stopped again, then got back to it again, and I was in this cycle for obviously quite some time until I have accumulated about 80 hours of playtime and I just don’t feel like playing it anymore. Combat is very important to me and in this game it feels so boring and lackluster.

    There aren’t that many sword combos imo and I feel like there is very little difference in the way you fight between level 1 and higher levels even after you’ve upgraded your sword skills. As for the signs (spells), they are very limited and dull looking. The Igni is cool but that’s about it. I want to be able to cast lightning storms and tornadoes, and call in meteors to crush my opponents, and summon beasts and familiars and all to fight by my side but you just can’t do that. I know, I know you can’t expect these kind of stuff in a Witcher game and I totally understand cause I did beat the 2nd game and it was a good game imo but I am just so bored with the combat in the Witcher 3. So dull and boring.

    I always feel sad when I have the thought of having to complete the game just cause I’ve bought it but now that I know that there are a good number of people who have the same opinions, I think it is safe to say that I will be dropping this game and truly focus on other games that I enjoy.

    I respect The Witcher series of course and the main characters, Geralt of Rivia, Ciri, Yennefer, Triss, etc are awesome and I love them. Stories are amazing too. But the game is just not for me because I wasn’t having any fun with the combat so yeah.

    All these are completely my opinions and I apologize if I offended anyone.

    Thank you Clark Kent Without Glasses for posting this article. 🙂

    • “I feel like there is very little difference in the way you fight between level 1 and higher levels even after you’ve upgraded your sword skills” –> So true!

      BTW: We are now on our own site: I’m keeping this WordPress version around for now but we’re going to remove it some time in the future.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

  12. Thank ya for writing something I can finally agree with. How do I say this? I think it’s a 10/10 game, but it’s not that good. Does that make any sense? In terms of what a video game SHOULD be, it hits all the nails square on the head. But for me it wasn’t that fun, it isn’t engaging, and nothing I have tried so far has led to me wanting to play more.

    • Thanks! I’m afraid I’m harsher than you. To be honest, I personally think it doesn’t hit all the nails on the head at all. I really don’t know why everyone praises this game so much wnen there is so much that is obviously wrong with it: overly convoluted narrative structure, clunky controls, stunted character progression, repetitive gameplay, lack of exploration, uninteresting combat and very little customization. Why all the tens? I really think it’s just the beautiful graphics, the sheer size of the thing and the excellent voice acting, but none of those should be deciding factors in what makes a good game.

  13. This is the most accurate description of my feelings on this game that I’ve seen. I just assumed I was weird. This game was terrible in my book. It would have been ok if it didn’t have soooo much potential. I thought for sure I was going to find my new favorite game but Zi hated it. I couldn’t finish it and I finish every game I start. The combat was clunky and not fun. The story was forced. The character was forced. Everything was forced which is the opposite of what an rpg is. Skyrim was far better. Dragons dogma was far better. Dark souls was far better. And yet so many people(who clearly are confused on what an rpg is) are drooling over this giant empty world full of clumsy clunky battles with no option of how you want to play… ugh. Sorry that was a rant too I suppose.

    Anyway, incredible article that was explained eloquently and with out bias.

    • Oh and play Dark Souls 3(And dragons dogma dark arisen) if you haven’t. Those are exceptional games. Ds3 will piss you off a lot but it really is worth it in the end. I platinumed the game and swore I’d never play it again but I am soooo glad I did. Dragons Dogma is easier and I enjoy the classes more but it’s not as fulfilling to beat it. Though fighting dragons and giant cyclops’ is pretty awesome in DD.

      • Hey Krash! Thanks for your awesome comments! I played Dragon’s Dogma back when it came out and I liked it. A lot of people have been recommending the DS series so at some point I’ll have to check them out 🙂 Thanks again!

  14. I couldn’t have said it better myself. The Witcher’s entire series is just awful in just about every aspect. I’d much rather play a (now much more appreciated) buggy bethesda game than any cdprojectred game any day.

  15. I also came here by literally googling “Witcher 3 is not very good.”

    Just want to speak up in defense of Gothic. Gothic 1/2 (no comment on 3) is actually a well-constructed game with tight, responsive movement, forking narrative, and an *interesting gameworld* that’s still levelgated, but done in a natural way that doesn’t strain incredulty a la Witcher 3’s “oh I leveled up twice, now I can easily handle that monster that completely thrashed me earlier”. Also the different builds are actually competetive. Also the quests are way more natural. People actually ask you to do things that make sense given their role in society, and you take the quests because you get something you want out of it. Sadly I’ve already played Gothic 2 to death. I was really *hoping* that Witcher 3 would be more in the same vein. Unfortunately it tries to be Skyrim and as a result feels like a worse Oblivion.

  16. Most people who praise The Witcher 3 are either fans of the books or casual gamers, so I can understand the disproportionate amount of hype surrounding it. Look at God of War 4. They took one of my favorite hack n slash characters and transplanted him into a “The Last of Us” formula. More story! Less gameplay! Behind the shoulder camera perspective! Corridors disguised as mountaintop backgrounds! Walking sim! 10/10! I’m a screenwriter myself who wants to dabble into writing for the video game medium and i’m totally aware that the level of interaction in video games is becoming void to the point of redundancy. These creative directors need a sense of direction themselves that they are making games meant to be played, not played for. Cough MGS2 cough. It took cd Project Red 3 attempts to perfect the formula, and after three attempts it still isn’t perfect. Why? Even Bethesda managed to make 6 amazing games before Fallout 4. This is coming from a person who enjoyed The Witcher 1 enough to put in 50 hrs, and uninstalled The Witcher 2 after 9 hours, with no intention of returning to either. And my ideal tabletop rpg’s would probably be Fallout 2, Arcanum and Baldurs Gate 1/2, so by no means do I have bad taste. I feel that every iteration of The Witcher series has been a balancing act of quantity over quality, in which the developers still can’t find a middle ground 8 years and 2 sequels deep. Just my two cents. Great article btw.

  17. I would have respected your opinion if you had finished the entire game first..
    One thing I do agree with you is the bloody baron missions are not the best in the game. There still good but there are Lots of other quests that are better. I was never into big RPG games until I played this and it got me hooked.
    I guess your just an oddball with no patience that’s why you will never find a game and get a great experience out of it.

  18. Count me in the googling “Witcher is not good” camp … it just seems to … drag. I enjoyed Pillars of Eternity, I enjoyed all of the Fallouts, I figured this would be at least as good as those, given the reviews, but I’m at level 4 right now and stumbling around Valen not seeing the point of pushing to level 5+.

  19. I give up, it sucks.

    It is like having an indulgent graphic novel read to you – not like playing a game.

    I’ve done Novigrad and Skellige and I am burnt out on this lazy piece of shit.

    It hit the height of some sort of greatness in the Baron quest. Really fruity and wierd and dark.

    Now these pricks can’t even tell a simple story without jamming it chock full of mindless filler – go here and pick 3 flowers etc.

    It is full of time wasting shit that doesn’t respect the players time or give them agency over their own actions.

    Terrible fucking game, fuck this.

    I’m pretty damn sure the Baron quest was by a contract writer – because the quality of the rest of it is execrable.

    Anyone who thinks this is a ‘masterpiece’ is an idiot.

  20. and what the fuck is with all the characters I’ve never even heard of referencing past histories I’m unaware of? With the supposed ‘player character’ chatting away joyfully these events?

    This happens constantly. All the fucking time. It is infuriating.

    You may as well leave the fucking room and let these bum chums get on with it without you.

    Just shit, bottom tier fan fiction nonsense.

    • I bought this piece of shit for 30 bucks. I have deep regret. I played it for 2 hours. I know trash when I see it and smell it. This game shouldn’t score more than a 4/10. Something is off with the industry reviews they must have all been bribed.

  21. One of the most overrated game I ever played for sure! This is gonna be long comment sorry 😦

    I don’t know why people calling this game “RPG”? As you said in your post this is not an RPG game, this is story-based action game, if this is RPG then COD is RPG too. There is no character creation, no character development, no relationship with any other NPCs, no interactive open world like in Skyrim or Fallout etc… Where is the “Greatest RPG ever”???!? Where is it??

    Let me review the different things in the game:
    Geralt: Ugh… Probably one of the most weakest and boring protagonist I ever see! He has no specialty! Nothing actualy! He doesn’t even part of the main quest, whole main quest line is about the fucking Ciri! He is just a errand boy, Geralt is everyone’s bitch. You spend the entire game being used by everybody. You’re supposed to be great warrior but everyone just uses you like a dog. No one respects you, even ciri calls you silly at the end of the game… As a player I feel very insulted.

    Yen(AKA bitch): In the books she is bitch too, but not like in the game! She is supposed to be alpha-female character, mother figure for ciri with strong personality etc… She really care about Geralt in the books, if she saw Triss take over Geralt’s love from her I’m definitely sure Yen probably kill Triss. In lady of the lake Yen says to Triss things like “Geralt is mine. Don’t ever try taking him away from me.” But in the game she is BITCH! She doesn’t even care about Geralt, she just using “us”. Also her bitchy attitude turning into more friendly when she is talking with the “Emhyr”, who wanted to kill Geralt and Yen!? Even Geralt mentioned to Yen when you bring Uma to “Emhyr”, something like “where is your claws go Yen?”. Yeah where is it?

    Triss(AKA waifu): In the books Triss more like being the sister for Ciri and more or less like a whore nothing more, but in the game she turned into the fucking waifu?!? Geralt even begging for her WTF??? Let’s be real “Triss is not an option for Geralt in the books!” It’s impossible!. Also how did she become the leader of the mages in novigrad?! Just teleport them away why are you wasting our time for this nonsense?!

    Ciri(AKA hot-headed): Most irritating thing about Ciri in the game, Ciri no longer see Yen as her mother, that mother-daughter relationship replaced by fucking Avallac’h, in books Avallac’h never see Ciri as a friend, for him Ciri more like a “polluted” thing, he actually hates Ciri in the books nothing more etc. In game Ciri savior of the world, but in book she is the mother of great king/queen, her child will have the power of the elder blood and he will conquer the world. CDPR turned Ciri into the some kind of stupid superhero!

    Wild Hunt: These guys supposed to be ghost like spectral figures (like Nazguls, LOTR), but somehow all have ice magic and became skeleton like wwe wrestlers! Wonderfull!

    Avallac’h: This guy supposed to be villian, now he is a good guy?! WTH?!

    White Frost: In books white frost more or less like climate-change, but in game white frost turned into the world eating shit!

    Fake Ciri: Nobody knows what happened this clone trooper?!

    Main story: Whole main quest line about finding someone, find yen, find triss, find ciri, find zoltan, find prick *cough* I mean dandelion etc. in the end kill the big bad guy with batman voice syndrome and win… That’s it, this is the whole fucking main story.

    Side Missions: Most of them it just a fucking fecth quests with mumbling Geralt and time wasting unnecessary cutscenes/long dialogues…

    Map look great at the beginning but after that you realize nothing in it, not like Skyrim or Fallout, exploration don’t exist in this game, because whole big map(s) fucking empty! It feels soulless.

    It’s very grinding game after long 5 hour gameplay you realize you just only reached to level 10. It’s fucking annoying, because everything in the game it’s fucking level-based as MMOs… Talking about level-based mechanic, our great monster slayer grandpa will get his ass kicked by some dogs! WHY? Because dogs 10 level higher than Geralt, they will kill you with just 3 or 4 hits, because your damage output somehow don’t even exist for higher level enemies!! I really wonder who came up with this dumb idea for single player?!

    Most of the skills are useless!

    Tons of unnecessary items most of the time you don’t even care…

    Upgrading or crafting most of the time is useless because you always find better items from looting.

    All of the armors looking ugly af!

    GPS on minimap is terrible!

    Geralt keep dancing in fights rather than actually dodging!

    The dialogue is shit. You can say it’s well written because the conversations sound natural. However, they’re extremely long winded and hardly go anywhere. It’s mostly just boring conversations between people, which have no further significance.

    I feel no connection to any of the characters in the game. None of the characters looks interesting… Man really miss Wrex and Garrus 😦

    And blah blah… This game far away from “Best game ever”….

  22. Wow – that was therapeutic 😉 I am one of the confused peoples who googled “the W3 kinda sucks??”. I would not subscribe to the harshest views here, but I find my experience of the game reflected in many of the points made. I bought the game after watching the Netflix series, which I really liked. I just said to friends a few days ago that the game is more like an Assassin’s Creed. and not like an RPG. And at that, one of the AC titles that I liked less (parts 1, 2 and 4 were good ;)). Anyway – thanks for keeping this page around as a “self-help” group for confused gamers who think they are the only person in the world not liking W3!

  23. also somebody who googled for a negative review of the witcher. i feel like i’ve been heard here.

    just one thought: i had been curious for years (having played morrowind, oblivion, skyrim, kotor 1-2, jade empire, mass effect 1-3) what would happen if they took away character customization and allowed for the protagonist to actually be a defined character. could they tell better stories? ‘they’ being big studios making western-ish RPGs.

    anyway, disappointing for reasons everyone else has already stated. idk why it feels so good to know other people share this reaction.

  24. i am a fan of the witcher books and I played all three witcher games, and I am telling you here and now. the witcher 3 wildhunt is the worst game in the trilogy.

    combat is worst because in the second and first game the economy and items were properly balance, but in the witcher 3 gold is way to easy to acquire so much so that in the DLC they had to have gold sinkers to attempt to balance it.

    they change the story of the books in the witcher 3, they change to essential plot points that were unique to the witcher franchise, and i dont think a single character in the witcher 3 was treated well by the writers.

    and worst of all the open world addition to the game breaks it. CDPR did a terrible job translating the witcher into open world, it was simply quantity over quality in the first and second witcher they had tons of dialogue option as well as dialogue for bartering for a better payment for a contract, but in this game because of the amount of content the game has a lot of required quality for a contract had to be cut and bartering is so useless in the game (gold is broken) there is no point to even bother with it.

    all I wanted to say as a super witcher fan I am with you guys

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