Careful what you wish for…
HIGH The professor's fate.
LOW A few of the dialogue choices with Shani felt a hair off.
WTF Some folks actually chose a different ending than me? Why?
Look, let's be real here: if there's a game that absolutely does not need DLC, it's The Witcher 3.
Don't get me wrong—I loved it, and although it beat me into submission with how much content it has, at no point did I want to miss a single minute of it. I skipped nothing… but really it's enormous. Huge. I might even say it is of a ‘totes ridic' size.
In fact, considering just how much content the core game offers, it seems kind of crazy that CD Projekt Red would be putting out an expansion to make it even bigger, but they certainly did, and there's no two ways about it… Hearts of Stone is an add-on that raises the bar for add-ons.
Although it doesn't offer new lands to explore, this DLC does introduce new locations, a new type of craftsman who can enchant weapons and armor, new quests, more gear, and some great characters.
The first newcomer is a female medic named Shani, whom Geralt apparently has some history with. I didn't play the previous two Witcher games and haven't read the books, so she was unfamiliar to me, but I like her quite a bit and she was used well in the story.
The other new character is a magician of sorts named Gaunter O'Dimm, and he's something else. While players have already met him in the main game, I'd be surprised if anyone recalls doing so since there's absolutely nothing memorable about him until Hearts of Stone. Afterwards, he's impossible to forget.
The main questline will take Geralt roughly 10 hours, and is a perfect example of what makes Witcher 3 such an outstanding experience. Rather than delivering time-consuming busywork or fetchquests, nearly every activity offers unique and interesting content. While I won't spoil it all here, the highlights for me were taking a ghost out for one last night on the town, and planning an Ocean's 11-style heist with a group of criminals.
The stuff on offer here is every bit as good as the main game, and the stuff in the main game is excellent. Also, much respect goes out to the developers for genuinely giving players some choice—after I completed the content I discussed my adventure with others, and nearly everyone had something different to say. That goes double for the ending.
Although I spent about 120 hours on Witcher 3 before I got to Hearts of Stone, I was more than happy to jump into it, and what I got was another big chunk of some of the best role-playing in memory. It's so good, in fact, that I'm still eager for more. It's a good thing that the next expansion, Blood and Wine, is coming soon…
Disclosures: This game was obtained via paid download and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 12 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the content was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game contains: blood and gore, intense violence, nudity, strong language, strong sexual content and use of alcohol. They're not wrong.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing: There's plenty of subtitles to help out, which is good as there's a ton of dialogue throughout. Standard situational awareness issues apply, but it does a great job of catering to players less able to hear battle cries and the like for the most part.
Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody's looking, and his favorite game of all time is a toss-up between the first Mass Effect and The Witcher 3. You can catch his written work here at GameCritics and you can hear him weekly on the @SoVideogames Podcast. Follow Brad on Twitter and Instagram at @BradGallaway, or contact him via email:
bradgallaway a t gmail dot com