The Wonders and Woes of The Witcher 3

I've got a bit of an obsessive personality. This is pretty obvious considering I run two pop culture websites and am constantly finding new things to talk about (and thank God for that). Once I got it into my head that I needed a PS4, I couldn't think of anything else until that PS4 was mine. 

Now, sometimes this can come off as impulsive, and at times it is. I sometimes need to ride out the obsession to only realize that it was simply a fad. I've wasted a lot of money (and time) on such things so I've imposed a bit of a waiting period on myself. If I want something, I have to wait at least a month to get it. 

And I did that with the PS4.

However, I only waited two days to snatch up The Witcher 3 because girl had to have something to play... right?

Anyway, I'd heard pretty mixed things about The Witcher 3, especially to do with its treatment of its female characters. Despite that, however, I had been craving and open world extravaganza ever since I finished up Dragon Age Inquisition and since this game wasn't coming out for the PS3, and I JUST PURCHASED THE PS4, WELL THINGS HAPPEN, OKAY?

I haven't played much of the game (I only bought it on Sunday after the author meet and greet with Sam Maggs - post to come on Friday about this) but I feel like I have a good enough understanding of the main talking points that I can give my own two cents.

Gameplay

All in all, gameplay in the game could be better. As Geralt of Rivia, our titular Witcher, I keep bashing into EVERYTHING. His gait is so sauntery and his arms go out so wide that I literally find myself spinning in a circle at times just trying to extract myself from tight spots. Being inside is even worse. Anytime that Geralt finds himself enclosed in a room, it takes me AGES to get him out. WHY CAN'T YOU BE A WOMAN, GERALT? IT WOULD MAKE ME LIKE YOU SO MUCH MORE! I also find it difficult to interact with most things because I have to be standing in JUST the right way to be able to speak to someone or loot something. 

I also seem to never have money, despite looting everything, and therefore can never afford to repair my armor and weapons or buy consumables to increase my health during tough battles. I never have enough ingredients for alchemy (and any that I do have, I end up having to sell just to get some extra coin), but I have tons of broken mugs. Also, if I loot anything near guards, they all try to assassinate me. I don't even know.

The Story and the Killing

The plot of this game is actually totally interesting. Not every quest involves finding things to kill, but are actual puzzles. I really don't mind killing things in video games. Some days I even relish it, as I've found it's an unbelievable stress reducer and it's a safe way to take out aggression. However, only killing does not a perfect game make (for me anyway). I truly love doing fetch quests and side quests and little things to help me make the game last longer and also help me to level up. Boss fights (or any fights for that matter) are not at all easy in this game and I would know because I have it on the easiest setting and I STILL die all the time. THAT IS NOT WHOLLY INDICATIVE OF MY SKILL, BTDUBS. I'm not a great fighter but I'm not awful and even on the lowest setting I fail over and over again. That kind of bums me out. Also, I really hate having to kill dogs all the time. But other than that, I'm super invested in the story and can't wait to see what comes next.

The Setting and Visuals

The world in which this game is set is quite magnificent. It's GIGANTIC which is just what I was looking for. Despite how great Mass Effect 2 is, the world is quite constrained. I love being able to wander anywhere, a love I picked up by playing through the Dragon Age and Skyrim. And it's all so gorgeous. Each location has a unique look, each person has a distinct flavour, and dear God, the sky is always so beautiful. As the game progresses, Geralt travels at all times of day (and through all sorts of weather), so you are treated to clear skies, and sunrises and sunsets, and gloomy days and everything in between. The graphics really are out of this world and I'm not even playing it on an 1080i TV. Geralt clearly has had the most effort put into him because he's incredibly lifelike. Some side characters on the other hand, do look a bit rubbery at times, but they are still incredibly detailed.

The Characters

I've played most of this game as Geralt so far (excepting a couple VERY short scenes where you play as Ciri. I don't know if there will be anymore but God I hope so) and I have to say that he is one of the least charismatic characters I've ever played. He's so damn boring. He has no personality, he kind of just grunt talks like it's going out of style, and rarely shows any kind of emotion. Literally EVERYONE ELSE is more interesting than him. Like Ciri. WHY CAN'T THIS STORY BE ABOUT CIRI AND THE WHOLE TIME I'M PLAYING AS CIRI AND EVERYTHING IS GREAT? I'd even play as Yennefer or Triss. You know, what, fuck it, let's just say it as it is, I'm tired of playing as a man, I want to play as a woman and it sucks that that's not an option.

The Feminism (or Lack Thereof)

Aye, here's the rub. This is what's been getting the most backlash (to my knowledge) in this game. 

Women, for the most part, are treated like garbage. They're constantly barraged with sexist slurs (one of which I won't repeat here but let's just say that RuPaul refers to it as Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent). They're told to shut up and get back in the kitchen, they're told they're weak, they're called whores and sluts and bitches and there is no reason for it except to show that this is still a 'man's' game. TYes, women can play it (obviously), but it's still under the male gaze (there is Game of Thrones level nudity that is shockingly one-sided) in both the way that the game treats its female characters as stereotypes or its men as gods. 

That's not to say that there's anything wrong with the female characters themselves. They're actually quite diverse and if you look at them without the fuckboy-tinted glasses that is the default setting in this game, you'll be able to see that.

As problematic as this game is, I am still enjoying playing it. I can appreciate the good and I can criticize the bad and I will definitely see the game through no matter what it throws at me. It's built well but like most things could use some adjustments. Maybe they'll take that into consideration for The Witcher 4.