The Witcher 3 is a game of absolute grand scale. Monsters roam the land, terrorizing humans at any given chance and it is up to a professional to keep the world in check. Adventures can be found around every corner in this exhilarating fantasy world. Following the path set before you throws players into the experience of the year, with a story filled with wonder. But stepping off the beaten path opens the world into a wild roleplaying experience, with plenty of opportunities to fight some of the harshest creatures in the land. Even after several hours of play time, the Witcher 3 still tempts me to press on with plenty to explore and hunt.

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt continues the adventures of Geralt of Rivia – the titular witcher, a bounty hunter who has gone under mutations into becoming capable of destroying monsters and bringing balance to the world. This time around, Geralt must race against time to find his adopted daughter, Ciri, before the evil Wild Hunt can capture her and use her powers to destroy the world. The main narrative is intriguing, but only fans who followed the series since the novels can truly appreciate it for everything it is. Featuring loveable characters and fantastic writing, the game is worth experiencing again and again. As with any Witcher game, the plot flows depending on decisions you have made throughout the game. Witcher 3 is by far the most ambitious yet, with each small decision having a rippling effect on the large world around it. Unlike games that provide few key moments that help shape an in-game world, the Witcher 3 goes beyond by providing an abundant amount of choices that can shift the narrative.

It’s easy to feel connected to this virtual world. This huge landscape is filled with beautiful visuals and sights leaving any to be left in awe. The number of different people, politics, and issues that arise can often be mistaken for a living world that all naturally come together in the very end. Dilemmas are quite common and can be approached in a number of ways such as using force, cutting deals, and using witcher powers. The world is filled with liars, tricksters, and thieves all waiting to outsmart you so nothing should be taken at face value. Each decision you make can lend a feeling of uncertainty, requiring careful thought before making a rash decision.

The Witcher 3 gives players more freedom to explore, track quests and hunt monsters than ever before. Hundreds of quests are available across the world, including numerous witcher contracts and treasure hunts, along with smaller side quests in-between. Every quest starts as any quest would with a basic understanding of a situation and a task to accomplish. What’s interesting is no quest ever turns out how a player imagines. You can start one quest by investigating a case about a missing woman in the woods, then in that same quest fighting a werewolf in some deep cave under an old shack. These little twists are everywhere in the Witcher 3, making every quest feel like a grand adventure in itself.

Combat takes a bit of getting used to. No matter how powerful a human Geralt may be, he can still be cut down pretty quickly if you aren’t careful. But fear not, the Witcher 3 offers a wide variety of different abilities that can aid you in combat. Each different perk (alongside Geralt himself) can be upgraded to make fighting a little less stressful. Geralt has a selection of five abilities (signs) to call upon during any fight. An offense ability that casts fire, one that casts wind, another that sets a trap to make enemies more vulnerable, one for disabling foes, and lastly a shield. Knowing when to use what determines a successful fight, but throwing any sign without thought can cost you your life.

Along with these abilities, Geralt can utilize potions, oils, bombs, and a crossbow. Each potion has a special perk that can combat such as increase health regen, see in the dark, increase sword strikes. Using too many in quick succession can cause Geralt to slowly lose health so always be aware of how much you’re using. Oils can be applied to your sword for combat against certain foes. Have to fight a group of nasty wraiths in a churchyard? Apply a wraith oil to make quick work of the lot. Bombs and the crossbow are as straightforward as can be. Use bombs are more dense enemies like golems and the crossbow are aerial enemies like sirens. These weapons don’t replace a good sword though. There are different bombs for certain situations, but I never found myself needing anything other than the simple Grapeshot. The same can be said about the crossbow. It helps when you’re fighting a sirens or underwater against drowners, but the other than these few moments, you won’t see yourself using it anytime else. Each of these (along with health) can be restocked by simple meditation.

As mentioned before, combat be pretty hectic at times and fights can quickly take a turn for the worst. Swords have the duration of an oversized Pringle on a hilt, so being aware of your equipment is always important. Too many times have I found myself running from conflict because I was bleeding out, poisoned, and equipment nearly shattered.

On the topic of issues, the Witcher 3 has a number that can cause anyone to tear out their hair in frustration. Along with the usual, frame rate hiccups and glitches found in these bigger RPGs, the Witcher 3 also has a nasty loading problem. Each time you load a save the game recaps the current story being told. This is acceptable and is a nice touch especially for players who take long breaks in-between their games such as myself. What isn’t acceptable is that same story recap being played each time you navigate to some new area. I know it beats a generic loading screen, but if I’m in Velen and want to head back to the starting area, White Orchard, then back to Velen I have to watch the same recap that I saw first loading the game twice. It’s unnecessary, I appreciate the thought Witcher 3, but I didn’t forget the story within the span of three minutes. Along with this, whenever you die (and believe me you will die) you are asked to reload your save which takes far too long to load. If you end up in a nasty quarrel and die repeatedly, your anger will directed at the loading bar instead of the monster you were fighting.

It’s fair to say that the Witcher 3 has stolen a good chunk of my life, perhaps over 70 hours at least. What I got was an extravagant game that took a bit to get used, but once it had its hooks in me I couldn’t stop playing it. Fantastic story, fun gameplay, incredible scenery combine to create a climatic adventure of a hero’s final journey. If you don’t have the Witcher 3 in your game library, then what are you doing?