Where To Buy: Xbox Live, PSN Store, Steam, Local Retailer
The final expansion, named Blood and Wine, arrives an entire year after The Nerd Stash’s GOTY winner, The Witcher 3 debuted in 2015. As the title suggests, expect a contrasting adventure of luxury and death which takes the well-established lore into new territories. The polish and ambition seen within the series are ever present here, offering a riveting tale of mystery whilst adding new weapons, gear, and abilities. CD Projekt Red have set a new precedent for the standard of DLC.
Blood and Wine is the second of the expansions for The Witcher 3 following on from the well-received Hearts of Stone (You can read the review here). Embarking on this endeavor, you should be well acquainted with the mechanics of the game and in my opinion, be at least level 35. If you have not played The Witcher 3 before, you are able to begin the expansion at the recommended level however be warned, as Blood and Wine is a tough challenge even for the more experienced players.
Blood and Wine is a secluded story and your progress in the standalone game will not affect the quest line here. A nice point to add is that, if the main narrative has been completed, conversations within Blood and Wine will reflect upon these events and you may be reacquainted with old friends in this new region.
Toussaint is Geralt’s destination after Lady Anna Henrietta requests the Witcher’s expertise after a mysterious beast has slain a number of nobles in the area. Upon accepting the invitation, you will get a feel for how Toussaint represents itself. You meet two of Geralt’s old friends in the form of the knightly Palmerin and Milton with their demeanors giving you a taste of what to expect from the new continent. Bright gleaming armor, exotic and poetic language; Imagine a fairy-tale knight and you begin to build a concept of Toussaint.
After accepting the contract and traveling with your wellborn companions, you immediately become reacquainted with combat. You stumble across an overzealous knight in his ambition to impress a damsel by slaying a giant. Once Geralt demonstrates his proficiency and you take the beast’s head as a trophy, you are free to explore this beautiful land.
Although The Witcher 3 contained some of the most beautiful vistas seen in gaming, it was still tainted by the ongoing war within Velen and Novigrad. Toussaint has not felt the effects of the conflict and as such, a life of opulence exists across the province. Imagine exploring Southern France or Tuscany as they have clearly had a strong influence on the landscape. Bright colors highlight the horizon which looks like it has been drawn with a vibrant set of crayons. Vineyards cover acres of land and an infectious spirit resides within the villages. This photographic scenery surrounds a centerpiece castle that any Disney princess would feel at home in.
Blood and Wine feels fabulous and extravagant which, when combined with Geralt’s matter-of-fact disposition, makes this expansion hugely entertaining. If you are familiar with Dandelion from the main quest-line, envision a world where he is considered the norm. I’m reminded of Shrek (which seems like an odd comparison) as he is surrounded by a slightly twisted version of a fairy-tale world. Incidentally, one of the first missions is called ‘turn and face the strange’ which is a line from a popular song within the movie.
This theme influences the activities ahead with one such task requiring you to tame a unicorn. Once located, you discover it is simply a horse with a prosthetic horn who has an appetite for apples. Geralt, as he regularly does with his profession, removes the mystery shrouding proceedings and reveals them for what they really are. Although Geralt is unaffected by the magic, the commitment everyone has to this lifestyle not only makes Toussaint very contrasting to the North but a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
The central narrative within Blood and Wine is quite the opposite to the intoxicating jubilance around you. Although just as fantastical, a vampire is Geralt’s main threat in these lands. This mission, even by The Witcher 3 standards, is particularly dark. The story begins as a murder mystery as you inspect a dissected body, caught in a fishing net. After following clues, you soon discover a naked lady, drenched in blood eating a severed hand. The quest contains a number of twists, returning characters from previous adventures and a varied mission structure. Anna Henrietta, the queen of Toussaint, is another strong female character that the series is a pioneer for. She is the exception to the fairy-tale ethos by getting her hands dirty and not abusing her position of power.
Blood and Wine adds a huge amount of story content with the main quest and plenty of side missions too. New attire arrives in the form of Grandmaster Gear, which after completing the difficult missions to collect the schematics, require a large sum of money to construct. Dyes are available for the Witcher gear too so you can offer more customization to Geralt’s image alongside his hair and ever-growing beard. New monsters fill the lands and ignoring their high levels, are some of the toughest seen in the game. New contracts appear on noticeboards throughout the small towns and accepting these require precise preparation. Blood and Wine boasts 30 hours of gameplay and I found that even this number was modest.
Two new additions that will not have been seen before are the ability to own your very own Vineyard and new mutagens available to you. The vineyard is rewarded to Geralt through the main quest and is maintained by the attentively amusing Barnabas-Basil Faulty. Although the mechanics of owning the property are not too deep, you can improve aspects of the house and surrounding lands. The new mutagens arrive in the form of a sidequest and although they add new abilities to your already complex repertoire; they do not have a significant impact. I feel a new power would have been far more appropriate to allow players to experiment with different combat styles.
If you adored The Witcher 3 then Blood and Wine is a must play. It offers more of what you want with a hauntingly compelling narrative, side quests that develop into huge stories of their own capped off with an interestingly beautiful land. Similar issues such as horse controls and platforming issues are still apparently but they cannot tarnish just how brilliant this expansion is. With a GOTY edition having been announced which includes all three pieces of content, The Witcher 3 will be remembered as one of the greatest RPG’s of all time.
- Gameplay: Action Based RPG With Quests and Witcher Contracts
- Graphics: Vibrant, Colorful, and Exotic
- Sound: Stellar Voice Performances
- Presentation: Brimming With Content
- New Continent
- Amusing and Haunting
- Huge Amount Of Content
- Horse Controls
- Lack Of New Abilites