Am I looking forward to playing “Blood and wine”? Yes I am! Wait… no I’m not. But then again I am. I’m so confused.
This may be more content for probably one of thee best games made in the past 15 years if not ever, but it is also the last story we will ever get of the legendary Geralt of Rivia and that makes me really sad.
Deep down I don’t want to play it because I know when I finish the game there will be nothing else. Ever. It’s like finishing the last Harry Potter book, once you’ve read that last page you feel empty inside and you don’t know what to do with yourself.
It’s a feeling that stuck with me throughout the expansion, that’s the last dwarf Geralt will ever behead, that’s the last time Geralt will ever win a Gwent tournament ( yes there is a second one!!!). A sense of foreboding that the end is in sight.
Just like in Heart of stone you are given three options to start the new expansion, see photo below.
Upon loading a save file you are given a quest notification just like the previous DLC and upon opening the map to fast travel I was greeted with a new pleasant-looking GUI system. It looks amazing! From the moment I started to browse through it you could tell it had been made with a console in mind. This is something the Witcher 3 was in dire need of!
It’s streamlined and organised too! Making it so much easier to find a particular sword oil or bomb. Everything is categorized, old books and notes are archived and zooming in and out of the map no longer pulls you into the world map! That has been assigned to a different button.
Crafting has had a long overdue cleanse too, anything you’ve already made and thus don’t need to make again is no longer listed, making it much easier to see what you do and do not have!
Once id gotten over the new layout, I fast travelled over to Novigrad to reset my skill points and sell all my junk / store all my good loot that I can’t use yet. Preparation is key!
So let’s begin! You start it by taking a contract from a/any notice board.
Sounds like a fucking trap to me! But it’s nice to know that I’m considered to be among the best of the best.
I backed out of the noticeboard a was show a prompt to “quick read” the contract. Another new feature, a sorely needed one at that. CD red have obviously put a lot of thought into this and have clearly been listening to their fans as well.
I head off in search of these knights and apparently Geralt already knows them and is greeted like an old friend. I stand corrected on the trap calling. Before they reveal the nature of the contract some local bandits need to be taken care of first, the knights promised to rid the village of them and in returned were given food and lodging whilst they waited for Geralt to arrive.
The two knights’ act like they’re in a fairy tale, Palmerin intends to reason with them and offer the bandits to change their wicked ways and end the conflict without bloodshed “honourably”. (Obviously not happening, it’s the Witcher and you’re in Velen)
After a pretty hilarious cut-scene you’re thrown into a small brawl, poor bandits! Once I rend the last of the bandits in two in what was probably the easiest battle in Witcher history you head back to the knight’s lodgings for the contract briefing.
Not only is it a great introduction to the story in the classic Witcher way it also gives an insight on what is to come, the knights are in thick gold plate armour, speak with French ascents and act like king Arthur’s knights of the round table.
During the briefing Milton reads the contract word for word just encase you didn’t actually read it when you picked it up and then offers a few answers about the monster and its victims. The monster in question sounds very “jack the ripper” but targets old men not prostitutes. Starting to feel the #hype.
The contract issuer is Anna Henrietta duchess of Toussaint and Geralt is going to tap that.
Warning: the next section of this review goes over the game’s first hour or so in detail. Very minor spoilers, scroll down to the next line of red text to skip.
Toussaint looks beautiful, the land is covered in a lush shade of green we haven’t seen anywhere else in the Witcher so far, the roads are dusty and the climate is warm and dry. I’m playing this on the Xbox one and for the first time in a long time i’m actually spending time to look at my surroundings. I envy anyone with a PC that can run this at max.
The local populace just add to ambiance, they’re very cheerful and sing crude limericks. Most of them are dressed in bright colours and as an added bonus don’t hate you as soon as you walk past them. It’s a nice change. It’s almost like the Disney version of Skellige.
That Disney feeling is instantly shattered by an abrupt and frankly awesome cut-scene of a knight on horseback fighting a giant wielding a huge mace. These people are mad! That’s the first NPC I’ve to seen willing attack any monster without me being there.
Obviously I get a piece of the action and show these knights how it’s done. Just like in “Heart of stone” this boss fight is more elaborate and has different stages depending on its health and a wide variety of attacks that can only be dodged in a certain way.
After being thanked by the batshit crazy knight (The guy is actually killing monsters to prove his love for someone) you are informed that whilst away there has been another killing. The body was found nearby too, time to get to work!
The body was found at the side of the river so surprise surprise I’m going to run into drowners. And yet I didn’t instead a new beast attacked me, they’re called scurvers and act a lot like drowners but with the twist of being covered in deadly spikes that upon death explode outward like a grenade. Didn’t expect that and I died….
Not even mad.
After some detective work you identify the body, it just so happens to be one of your traveling companions old friend #convenient. With no real leads to follow it’s time to question the locals at the nearby tavern.
-5 points for NPCs still moving at neither walking, jogging nor running speed but somewhere in between.
After a pretty hilarious chat you discover that the body was moved to a nearby vineyard, this is also where you part ways with the knights. He’s off to dress up as a rabbit or something, no seriously he is.
Upon arrival you see a blood bath, lots of bodies are strewn over the place some are still crawling along the floor. They bleed out before I can help though! Looks like I’ve got another monster fight on my hands! Heading down into the cellar that’s totally not a trap I see more bodies strewn over the place and get a chance to talk to the monster.
She (the monster) doesn’t care for that, locks the door to trap me inside (Ha called it) and attacks.
It was a good fight, just like the giant there was strategy to beating her ass down.
After checking out the body and finding out some #spoilers you need to compare notes with the other bodies. To do that Geralt needs permission from the duchess so we’re off to the tournament that’s being held nearby. I head off on foot since it’s not too far and the closer I get the louder the roar of the crowd gets, the attention to detail in this game is astounding.
After a small chat with one of my knight friends I’m told to wait until the fight is over before i can talk to the duchess. Remember the knight you saved from the giant you encountered as you entered the country? Well that same guy is about to fight another monster and guess what?
Yep you got to save his ass again. When given the choice i spared the monster, hopefully it’ll play a part later on in the game. Fights over, time to talk to the duchess von Geralt is going to tap that. Turns out you’re good friend Dandelion got there first some time ago (she’s still pissed about it)
After a few more spoilers you are given half of your reward, land! With the gold to follow when the contract is completed. Who gives a dam about gold though? I just got given a vineyard! …..Yeah the same one covered in body parts. More on that later.
Toussaint is very European as mentioned earlier, the people act like knights from the legends of King Arthur, they have French accents but the architecture is more akin to Spain and Italy as is the climate and terrain. It’s a beautiful place and untouched by war, unlike anything else seen in the Witcher 3 thus far.
Back to the contract, after a small revelation the duchess rips off her dress and jumps on a horse, racing you through her city towards a treasure hunt that’s about to turn into a shit show. She’s a bass ass.
Unfortunately to find a particular person you’ve got to play the games and find the clues. No one said about abiding by the rules though. After a hilarious scene involving a unicorn and a golden fish (see above) its back to the duchess for a small riddle and then a cut scene Ezio Auditore would be proud of.
And that’s as much as i can talk about without giving away any real spoilers.
End of Very minor spoilers
The sheer size of the blood and wine expansion dwarfs “heart of stone” in fact it makes most DLC look like oblivion horse armour. The new area is roughly the size of Velen, there are a literal fuck tone of new quests and it doesn’t stop there.
After a certain point of spoilers that I can’t/won’t talk about you encounter a boy messenger with a letter from Triss, at least it was Triss for me it’ll probably be whoever you romanced in the main story. She informs you of a professor that studied mutagens that’s worth checking out. This leads to a new skill tree that provides even more powers for Geralt to abuse the locals with, things like being able to freeze people solid or counter them with an almost insta kill.
There is also a new tier of Witcher gear and armour dubbed “grand master” not only that but you can customize the colour of your gear by using dyes. How do you get dyes you ask? From your very own vineyard of course!
Once the large amount of body parts had been cleaned up and the blood washed away Corvo Bianco looks just like new! Well kind of, it’s a little run down and could do with sprucing up so get ready to spend all your monster hunting money on a bed!
Before doing anything to your new home take a tour of it with BB otherwise known as Barnabas Basil Fawlty #FawltyTowersReference. It’s worth doing just to take in the scenery and get some interesting stories about the vineyard, the most prominent of which is the reverse Jesus story (A man attempting suicide in a well full of wine breaks his legs and supposedly turns the wine into water, he then spends the rest of his life preaching).
armour repair station
stables for roach
armour and weapon stands
Yes that right you can display armour and weapons in your house! I really wish that i hadn’t sold the unique ones found throughout my adventures, like Eredin’s sword or the full Nilfgaardian set. No doubt i can buy it back, problem is where did I sell them? and how much is it going to cost me? The house upgrades alone cost at least 10k!!
You can also display your trophies and paintings too, once again wish I hadn’t sold some of unique beats heads I’d taken over my 200 hour play through.
Out of all the new content, by far the best is the new Gwent deck. I joke but it’s nice to see more cards for the addictive game (there is even a new tourney).
The Witcher 3 Blood and wine expansion feels like a very long goodbye, setting up Geralt for a happy ending, giving him a nice house that also doubles as a vineyard and olive garden. Servants waiting on him and guest bedroom for any old friends stopping by, Toussaint is a paradise but it’s also filled with exotic monsters for Geralt to hunt if he ever gets bored. No Witcher has ever died in his bed but it looks like Geralt just may be the first.
The big bad guys isn’t on par with previous villains i.e the world skipping army of black riders that freeze the very air and have the power to end worlds or a powerful magic man / basically the devil, you can’t really go up from there. But it doesn’t matter the story is entertaining, full of twists and turns and ultimately an enjoyable end to one of the greatest RPGs ever made.
Blood and wine gets a god dam 10/10