Review: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Hearts of Stone
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been out for some time and its first paid expansion was recently released. Titled Hearts of Stone, the expansion adds to the overall rich experience from The Witcher 3, and includes a new story and new gameplay options. The overall experience in Hearts of Stone puts protagonist Geralt in some new situations outside of the main Witcher 3 experience.
Hearts of Stone begins with Geralt visiting a bulletin board, where he finds a job posting for a monster that needs slaying. From there, you’ll meet friends and enemies, both new and old. One of the first new characters you’ll meet is Olgierd von Everec, who is a man who is very wealthy, but appears to be dying inside. Another character you’ll meet early on is Shani, a medic from the first Witcher game. Olgierd, Shani and another mysterious character from the early stages of the Witcher 3 base game are recurring characters throughout Hearts of Stone. Variety is a word I would use to describe the Hearts of Stone experience. Story segments range from exploring a monster filled sewer, to attending a wedding, to even attending an auction. Just when you think the expansion may be coming to a close, more story elements arise and the characters begin to develop further. Olgierd is perhaps the star of the expansion, as he speaks a lot about his backstory. Shani and the mysterious man aren’t there for show either, as much time is spent with them, leading you to learn more and more about them. The amount of content and story with its own twists and turns in Hearts of Stone may even be the standard for some AAA releases, but developer CD Projekt Red only charges $10 for this expansion.
Not much has changed in terms of combat in the Witcher 3 besides the Runewright, which I will explain in a second. You’ll still be dodging, parrying, using special abilities and using items and potions to better yourself against monsters and other enemies. Boss encounters are one of the highlights of the expansion, as they are tough and monstrous. The bosses are almost something that you would find in a Dark Souls type of game. To help fight the new bosses, one of the new gameplay options is the Runewright, a new character that can infuse weapons and armor with runewords and glyphwords respectively. These new runewords and glyphwords can give your gear special abilities such as setting more enemies on fire when attacking with a fire based attack. I found that using these abilities were fun to use, but didn’t substantially effect the way I played the game.
Just like the overall Witcher 3 experience, the presentation is incredible. Animations on the face and body are great, immersing you into the world even more. The expansion can be started by itself with a preset level 30 character, or it can be played while playing through the base Witcher 3 game.
The Witcher 3’s first paid expansion is a memorable one and well worth putting your time into. The overall story lasted about 10 hours. Side quests and exploring the Runewright will increase your hours spent in the world. From the many new locales and scenarios, to character development and the story’s twists and turns, Hearts of Stone is an experience that is absolutely worth checking out for fans of The Witcher 3.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Intriguing Story
- Strong Characters
- Tough Bosses
- Lots to do
What I Dislike:
- Runewright Substantiality