Witcher 3: Blood and Wine – Preview
It has been a year and a bit since CD Project Red released the fantastic Witcher 3 and its Hearts of Stone expansion, but finally the wait is nearing a close with Blood and Wine finally in a playable working state. I was invited to drop by the Namco Bandai offices and get a bit of hands on time with the latest build and get a run down with some of the guys from CD Project Red
At the out set I was given a brief overview of how the new DLC is activated as well as some of the cosmetic and menu changes coming with the update. Blood and Wine can be activated in 3 ways: it can be started through a quest found in the main game with a recommended level of 35; manually from the menu; or as a standalone, with the game giving you a level 35 character to customise how you like from the start. Some of the new changes include a brand new user interface for your gear that streamlines item management, an increase in the level cap to 100 and around 30 new weapons and 100 new armour pieces to find in the new DLC.
Geralt’s next adventure tasks him with hunting down a mysterious monster that is causing trouble in the new playable area of Toussaint. With what promises to be around 30 hours of gameplay there is plenty to do in Blood and Wine, the main focus will be on the 90 new quests that take you through the story portion of the DLC with 40 new points of interests that use the new dynamic Point of Interest System which carry over noticeable benefits to gameplay such as lowering enemy populations after clearing bandit camps. Oh and there is a new Skellige Deck coming to the addictive Gwent card game to keep you hooked.
Blood and Wine is set in the lush Mediterranean Toussaint, a more vibrant and luscious sandbox than Skellige or Novigrad in the main game. that being said the map size is around that of the playable area in Skellige but with less water and more land, being host to around 20 new monster types that are sure to be a blast to hunt. Dialogue wise there are about 14 thousand lines of dialogue compared to the 6 thousand found in Hearts of Stone, almost all but ensuring that the fantastic writing and direction that makes the Witcher’s dialogue so interesting will not be lacking. Also added is a new dye item that changes the colours of your clothing, although it can only be obtained in the new area.
Another new feature is the vineyard in Toussaint that you are given as part of a quest. This serves as a hub for all of your activities in the DLC as well as a showcase for some of the game’s new features. Spending cash can upgrade the vineyard from a cheap shack to a house worth living in, complete with new displays for your armour and weapons. There is also a workbench to test out the games 12 new mutations that grant access to huge powers, such as coming back from the dead with full health and critical hits from signs that cause enemies to explode. These new features will take a solid investment to unlock but the reward is great.
At its core CD Project Red is a studio that values its fans’ feed back and that is the most important message that I got out of the presentation and hands on. Not only do they go out of their way to listen to their fans wants and needs, but they do so with a passion rarely found in the industry. Numerous times during the presentation the input of fans was brought up and explained. From armour displays to the new dynamic points of interest, the DLC feels like it was made for fans and what more can you want, aside from more Witcher 3.
Witcher 3 Blood and Wine is out before the end of H1 2016 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
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