The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, released in 2015, is a part of the Witcher game series developed by the Polish studio CD Projekt RED.

It is the third installment of the story of Geralt of Rivia, which brought popularity to both the game series and the book saga written by Andrzej Sapkowski, which served as its inspiration. The game received two major DLCs introducing new storylines.

The epic tale of searching for Geralt’s adopted daughter in a war-torn world ignited the ‘Witcher Fever’ worldwide, resulting in increased recognition for both the game developer and the book author. During this time, numerous new works emerged, including video games, comics, board games, and even movies and a streaming series. However, today we will explore the central factor responsible for all this fuzz. If you haven’t had a chance to play it yet, a few Witcher 3 beginner tips will certainly come in handy!

Understanding the World

The world of The Witcher is vast and intricate. It is not surprising considering that it was created based on a massive source material – the book saga has been developed since the mid-1980s. Thousands of written pages, hundreds of stories, and dozens of tales have given life and inspiration to a powerful universe that we have the opportunity to admire in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

The game is not a direct adaptation of the writer’s story, but it strongly references it. Therefore, prior knowledge of the universe is not necessary to embark on the gaming adventure, but all series fans appreciate the game’s secrets and “Easter eggs,” as well as references to familiar stories.

The creators of The Witcher 3, with beginners in mind, have prepared plenty of tips and expanded the lore for the game. Throughout the gameplay, we can find an endless number of books and texts that provide detailed descriptions of various characters and places, while extensive dialogue options allow for a thorough understanding of the background of events and quests. The voice-over narration helps greatly by summarizing completed chapters and describing the beginning of new ones. Additionally, the loading screens are enriched with useful tips and tricks that are worth paying attention to.

At any point, players can also make use of the so-called “Glossary,” which serves as a sort of guide to the Witcher’s world. It includes a tutorial, information about important characters and the monsters inhabiting the world (Bestiary), all the books read by our character, and crafting recipes along with related information. Interestingly, all these “handbooks” are continuously updated as the game and the world unfold.

Character Customization and Development

In The Witcher 3, we have the option to play as two playable characters, with Geralt being the main protagonist who accompanies us from the beginning to the end of the gameplay, while the other character, Ciri, only appears in certain missions that serve as flashbacks based on the stories told by other characters.

When starting the game, there is no possibility to choose the appearance or gender of our character. However, as the game progresses, it is possible to change the hairstyle and beard (when visiting a barber) and, of course, change the attire/armour and equipment of our character. There are also some missions in which Geralt must look a certain way, such as extravagant receptions where he must look presentable and wear a mask.

Geralt’s development is based on acquired experience and skill points obtained during leveling up, which can be used to build the skill tree divided into several main skills, including swordsmanship, alchemy, and magical abilities known as Signs. An interesting mechanic in the game is the use of so-called mutagens (obtained from slain monsters), which can be used to enhance the possessed abilities. This is one of the crucial Witcher 3 beginner tips, as many players discover this mechanic only after many hours of gameplay.

Combat Mechanics and Strategies

Geralt of Rivia is known for carrying two swords on his back – a steel one for humans and a silver one for monsters. And actually… that forms the foundation of our character’s combat mechanics. The hero wields two swords (but only one at a time), automatically choosing the type of weapon appropriate for the enemy he is fighting.

Although, Geralt begins his adventure equipped only with swords, at a certain point in the story, he also acquires a crossbow. It is particularly useful during fights against flying enemies (to bring them down to the ground) or underwater foes. When diving, monsters can only be killed using the crossbow.

In addition to weapon combat, our character can use Signs, which are simple magical spells:

  • Aard Sign – a forceful energy blast
  • Axii Sign – animal taming, calming monsters, and hypnotizing people
  • Igni Sign – a fire spell
  • Quen Sign – a shield and protection spell
  • Yrden Sign – a trap and containment spell

Fighting opponents, therefore, demands a clever combination of swordplay, crossbow usage, and magical skills. During combat, we can parry strikes, perform dodges and evasive manoeuvres. Apart from a few encounters in arena-like settings (usually boss fights before which we recommend preparation and game saving), battles take place in an open world, providing the opportunity to flee or bypass confrontations.

Equipment And Crafting

As the game progresses and various quests are completed, Geralt acquires better equipment – both armour and weapons. Naturally, better armour provides higher defence, and a better crossbow or sword provides greater damage.

There is the option to upgrade equipment using glyphs (armour enhancements) and runes (weapon enhancements) found during world exploration. This gives our gear special additional powers, such as the ability to deal higher damage with a chance to ignite the enemy or enhance the effectiveness of Signs. Both glyphs and runes can be added to equipment on our own. However, if we want to remove or replace them, we need to visit a blacksmith.

However, the inventory space of our character is not only occupied by swords, crossbows, spare armour pieces, and attire. Healing during combat, similar to many other RPGs and adventure games, is done using potions and consumables (or by meditation when we are off combat). To boost the character before a battle or a specific mission, various elixirs are used. Therefore, we need to allocate space in the inventory for all these items.

We can not only upgrade our equipment but also have to repair it, and we can craft it from scratch. We simply have to find or purchase a blueprint for a particular item, gather the necessary materials, and visit a craftsman who can create the desired item for us. As the game progresses, we also have the opportunity to acquire special Witcher gear (armour and weapons) with interesting stats and a fantastic appearance tailored to the different Witcher schools.

Alchemy: Brewing Potions and Crafting Bombs

According to the canon, Geralt brews potions and prepares special blade oils for his swords before each battle with a monster. This mechanic is also present in the game. Using collected ingredients (including animal fats, plants etc.), we can craft oils that provide additional damage to enemies, as well as potions that grant Geralt temporary resistance to damage, increased damage output, or simply allow him to heal.

In combat against enemies and for the destruction of monster nests (to eradicate them from a specific area), our hero also utilizes bombs. These are miniature explosives crafted by our character, similar to oils and potions, using found and gathered ingredients. They can both blind and stun enemies, as well as inflict specific damage to certain types of monsters. Crafting and using them is essential and helpful during certain quests.

Quests, Exploration and Making Choices

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a truly long game, even if we only consider the main storyline. However, this title offers much more. The main questline takes our protagonist across the entire continent and leads to encounters with numerous individuals who will have various tasks for the Witcher. There is no shortage of quests closely tied to the plot, unrelated side quests, and those that may initially seem disconnected from the main story. There are also minor objectives such as “retrieve an item,” “defeat a monster,” or “deliver a message,” as well as hidden quests that unfold during world exploration.

Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone

Often, it turns out that someone we encountered many hours of gameplay ago, a random person, is someone entirely different than we initially thought. How we treated them before, has a crucial impact on the course of events. The Witcher 3 has a highly developed system of moral choices, with surprisingly many branching storylines and plot loops. Everything is connected. What we say to someone, the decisions we make, how we solve a given problem, whether we attack someone or appear somewhere – all of this will be remembered and have later consequences—positive or negative—facilitating the completion of future tasks or leading to significant bloodshed. It is worth making all decisions with caution and empathy.

During many quests, the sharpened Witcher Senses turn out to be a significant advantage. These are basic abilities that our character possesses. They allow us to, for example, find hidden tracks and clues, follow odours, assess the number of enemies, and uncover various secrets of the world.

In terms of the story, our character will also be equipped with certain artefacts that allow opening magical hidden passages or peeking into the spirit world. Therefore, it is sometimes worthwhile to revisit certain locations to discover hidden layers or more profound meanings behind situations we encountered earlier.

Minigames and Activities

In addition to the extensive storyline and countless “classic” quests, players can also enjoy various additional objectives, such as minigames and questlines focused on specific activities.

The first of these is, of course, the iconic game of Gwent. It is a card game for two players in which armies known from the Witcher world, such as Temeria, Nilfgaard, Monsters, or Scoia’tael, clash on the battlefield. In Gwent, you can play against significant characters, NPCs, or merchants, and participate in tournaments that offer interesting rewards or unlock unique quests.

Apart from the beloved card game, our character can engage in highly elaborate and multi-stage fist fighting competitions. They start innocently with simple brawls for money. However, it quickly becomes apparent that in each region and part of the world, there are warriors vying for the title of champion. By participating in these fights, you can earn a substantial amount of gold, meet many characters, win interesting items, and, of course, gain the title of champion.

If you’re not a fan of card games or fist fighting, you can try your hand at horse racing. Here, too, substantial amounts of gold and equipment for Geralt’s horse can be acquired. Participation and victory in some races can also unlock different dialogue options, additional quests, or unique rewards.

Horsemanship, Boats, and Sailing

Since we’re already talking about horse riding, we can’t overlook the ways of getting around the world in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Anyone familiar with Andrzej Sapkowski’s stories or books knows that Geralt’s faithful steed, Roach, accompanies him in all his adventures. Therefore, it couldn’t be missing from the game either. Right from the start, we have access to our trusty horse, which we can summon at any location and time (excluding large city areas). Horseback riding is not only a great solution for covering long distances, but also an excellent way to escape from enemies when we want or need to avoid combat. Having a horse also means having extra storage space and the ability to increase our carrying capacity.

When we’re not riding a horse, we can still explore the world on foot or… by sailing a boat. Along the shores of Pontar, near lakes, and on the coastal areas, we can find small sailboats that facilitate crossing bodies of water, especially since they are teeming with aquatic monsters. However, it’s important to remember that a boat that enters shallow waters too quickly or gets caught on rocks may be damaged and sink.

Settlements and Safe Havens

During gameplay, we will come across many locations that have been abandoned by people but occupied by bandits or attacked by monsters. Typically, we will also find quite grim reminders of the former residents…

However, if we manage to rid these places of the evil people or occupying forces, they can once again serve as settlements for people.

The returning inhabitants will show their gratitude to Geralt and willingly engage in trade with him. Such settlements will thus become safe havens – places where we can replenish supplies without stress, heal our character, or store equipment in chests or barrels.

Understanding Different Regions and Cultures

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a highly elaborate, multithreaded, and above all, vast game. The world map is divided into several smaller maps assigned to different regions, each of which stands out not only in terms of culture, but also faces slightly different problems.

The Continent serves as the setting for our adventure. According to the canon, it encompasses various lands and states, such as the Kingdom of Cintra (where Ciri was born), the Nilfgaardian Empire or the exotic Zerrikania. However, in the game, we only have the opportunity to visit a few regions: Temeria, the province of Velen, the Free City of Novigrad, the Skellige Isles, and Toussaint available in the “Blood and Wine” DLC. Nevertheless, each of these regions is truly extensive and full of mysteries. Throughout the storyline’s development, we also have the opportunity to visit several realms and places that exist beyond “our dimension.”

On our journey, we will encounter small villages, towns, as well as massive metropolises, abandoned castles, huts in the middle of nowhere, dungeons, forest settlements, and palaces. We will also have the chance to meet a diverse range of inhabitants, starting from simple villagers, through city dwellers, nobility, and the upper echelons of society, all the way up to monarchs. In the game, we will come across humans and elves, dwarves and halflings, as well as countless intelligent, humanoid monsters. We will have the opportunity to observe a culture reminiscent of ancient Slavs and visit cities inspired by Celtic and Viking cultures.

Preparations for expansions: Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt achieved tremendous commercial success, and the world went crazy for it. This led to the creation of two DLCs, with the first one, “Hearts of Stone”, being released just six months after the base game’s premiere. Both expansions introduced new storylines, a series of new quests, as well as entirely new equipment and items. They also gave us the opportunity to encounter characters well-known to fans of the books but previously absent from the game, such as the medic Shani, Duchess Anna Henrietta, and the vampire friend of Geralt – Regis.

“Hearts of Stone” tells a poignant story that can be summarized by the saying, “Be careful what you wish for.” In this expansion, we meet Master Mirror once again, whom we had the chance to encounter at the very beginning of the game. He hires Geralt to “take care of” a nobleman-turned-bandit and his gang. However, it quickly becomes apparent that behind the nobleman’s cruelty lies a long and tragic story, and Gaunter O’Dimm (Master Mirror) is not who he claims to be. In this DLC, we also have the opportunity to follow several side quests, one of which leads us to Ofieri merchants who sell unique items.

“Blood and Wine” is the second, much more elaborate story expansion released in 2016 for The Witcher 3. The events in this expansion take place in the beautiful duchy of Toussaint, resembling the sunny Tuscany. Although it has not been touched by war, the idyll is only superficial. It turns out that the land is fighting its own problems, and wine is indeed mixed with blood, much to the delight of a mysterious madman. This expansion also allows our character to acquire a house and the opportunity to start a “normal” life as the owner of a vineyard. Interestingly, the final scene reflects the numerous moral choices made throughout the game.

Your adventure awaits!

As you can see, the world and questlines in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt are highly elaborate. Both dedicated fans of the series and newcomers will find something for themselves in this title and will be able to have a great time immersing in a deeply engaging, moving, and sometimes humorously tear-jerking game with well-crafted mechanics, character development system, and storyline.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to play The Witcher 3 yet, we hope that our tutorial has sparked your desire to make the best gaming decision ever!