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The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine
Score: 90%
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: CD Projekt RED
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG/Adventure

The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine (Leave the Bottle) :

The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine is the final expansion for The Witcher 3. Itís the end of a long, sometimes beautiful, sometimes awful stretch of road, so Blood and Wine has a lot to live up to.

In Blood and Wine, youíll be tasked with tracking down a mysterious monster who has been killing people in the land of Toussaint. The murders, however, are far from random attacks. Like something out of a serial killer novel, the victims have a connection, and the corpses are being treated in a way that seems symbolic of some message. What could be the motivation?

Itís not all blood and murder mysteries in Blood and Wine. Early in the game, youíll crash a party looking for clues before the murderer strikes again. Ok, so thereís some tension, but the party is full of so many funny and interesting things that it really feels more fun than anything else. Youíll see the extravagant sorts of things that nobility do to amuse themselves. Youíll see fire-breathing performers and exotic cats being brought in for the party goers to gawk at. Thereís a fake unicorn youíll have to chase around until you can grab a clue off its horn. Yes, you can even mount up and prance around on the unicorn, if youíre that kind of person (I know I am). Of course, the nobility at the party take all these fantasy games pretty seriously, so when Geralt spoils all their games, their flustered reactions are priceless.

Other side quests include a chivalric knightsí tournament. Geralt enters on behalf of a virtuous, but injured knight, in order to help a woman who may be cursed, and may be the knightís true love. The tournament provides contrasts to Geralt at every turn. There are knights who are deeply offended that Geralt has even entered the tournament, due to his lack of a noble birth and Geralt canít stand the fussiness and the frivolous rules of the whole thing, so he takes every chance he can to poke fun at it.

Geralt meets many new and interesting characters, as well as a few of his old friends in this expansion. Early on, you meet Anna Henrietta, former duchess of Toussaint, recently turned monarch. She is anything but a boring ruler sitting on a throne, however, and youíll soon discover she has as much fire as she has grace. Then thereís Regis, a high vampire who helps Geralt in his quest to stop the killer. Like many of Geraltís friends, thereís an easy going nature to their relationship, despite their vast differences. Regis himself appears quite kindhearted and amiable toward humans, having sworn off his addiction to their blood. Following Regis throughout the land also uncovers some fascinating, if rather gruesome, vampire history. Another interesting relationship to explore in this expansion is the chance to get to know Roach better. Thatís right, your faithful companion and steed may have a conversation with you if you choose to complete a certain quest. Now that is strange and interesting in the way only The Witcher can be.

Crayfish Chowder!:

I am consistently amazed with how beautiful this game can be. I thought we knew what the world of The Witcher looked like, but a short time into Blood and Wine, and youíre greeted with a stunning view of a city nestled up against a gorgeous blue mountain range. The area of Toussaint feels new and distinct from the other areas of the game, even the less gloomy ones. Itís a fantasy landscape that looks parts of Italian countryside, perhaps parts of the Swiss Alps. There are beautiful wildflowers lining the dirt roads, and lots of quaint houses and villages. People tend lovingly to their horses as you pass by. Itís tempting to just walk through the rolling hills and dirt paths, just to take in the atmosphere.

Itís a little hard to miss that Toussaint is the "French" part of this fantasy world. I found it pretty amusing that you can even buy new food such Boeuf Bourguignon, onion soup, Croissants, Ratatouille, Camembert, and fish pate. Sometimes random dudes will just chomp down on a baguette on the side of the road. That last part cracks me up more than it probably should.

The people of Toussaint are no classier than the rest of the folk in The Witcher, however. Eh, but since I always document the awful comments the common folk have for Geralt, letís change things up and list some of the nice things. Some guards will comment, "Do the Witchers eat their cheese before dessert or after?" Oh and thereís a kid that will sing, "The Witcher was a walking, a walking, a walkingÖ on a bright sunny day." Yeah, see? Things are bright and sunny and happy in Toussaint - until some guy comes and brags about beating his wife. Aaaand weíre back.

Nuts and Bolts:

There is so much to do in this expansion, it really is overwhelming. For one, there is a huge area to explore with tons of quests, but that is to be expected by expansion 3. Still, itís worth mentioning a few of them: a quest to help a group of cosplayers that like to re-enact historical events, a quest to help a tortured soul who has been cursed to never be sated by a meal and never eat with company again (the work of our friend from the last expansion), and the chance to build your own vineyard. Thatís right, youíll own an estate with a vineyard in this expansion!

Ok, so maybe your house has a corpse in the basement and maybe requires some further dead body cleanup here and there, but still, itís a house with a vineyard! Alas, dreams of managing a vineyard and playing some sort of mini-farming game within The Witcher are soon dashed. You can do most of the available upgrading and customization to your property within minutes - simply pay for an upgrade, meditate until itís done, and repeat. Still, itís a nice place to relax, hang up some of your weapons, put up some artwork, etc. and there are some perks to resting in your bed that you canít get anywhere else.

There are new, very powerful, mutagenic abilities you can unlock in this expansion as well. Aard knockdowns freeze and kill enemies instantly? Instant recovery of life if your vitality reaches 0? Massive increase in crossbow damage? Sign me up. There are also new cards for Gwent, the ability to dye armor, and well, lots and lots of new armor and weapons to find. And though everyone will get these upgrades in a recent patch, itís worth mentioning that user interface upgrades came along with Blood and Wine. It seems that finally, finally, everything is organized in Geraltís bags. It took him a while, but he finally managed to sort the bombs and the potions away from his cheeses and wolf skins. Actually pretty much every menu gets an overhaul including the alchemy and character leveling menus.

A Final Farewell:

As mentioned, this is the last expansion for The Witcher 3. It really doesnít feel like a goodbye. Geralt is still Geralt and the world of The Witcher keeps going on as it has before. Still, itís a good set of quests, a huge new map to explore, and new abilities. Thereís some humor, and some history, and a lot to discover. Maybe itís not goodbye, but itís a good end to a unique RPG series that brought a little Polish developer to the world stage.

-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

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