Playing Detective in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

With just over a month until The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt lands on Xbox One, developer CD Projekt RED is now finishing up work on the main game and turning its attention to expansion packs. They recently detailed two such packs – Hearts of Stone slated to arrive in late 2015 and Blood and Wine scheduled to appear at in the first quarter of 2016. Remember, these are on top of the 16 free downloadable content packs extras every player will receive after the game launches.

Hearts of Stone
is said to deliver brand new adventures for the game’s hero Geralt, which includes 10 hours of gameplay in No Man’s Land and Oxenfurt to complete a contract handed out by the Man of Glass. Blood and Wine goes a set further and will include another 20 hours of gameplay in a new region of the game called Toussaint – a very different, tranquil location in stark contrast to what has been seen before. In addition to these new adventures, CD Projekt Red is also promising a large range of new gear to use and some new enemies to fight. The expansion packs will be available as part of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Season Pass or available for individual purchase from the Xbox Store.

We recently had the chance to spend some more quality time with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and found it to be quite a different experience from our previous forays into its unique blend of action and role-playing.

Given that our first three hours with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt culminated in a mano-a-monster battle with a beast hellbent on filling its belly with protagonist Geralt of Rivia’s innards, we welcomed the chance to explore a decidedly more relaxing portion of the adventure. With the help of a CD Projekt RED developer, our demo of the rich action-role-playing game was fast-forwarded several hours ahead, to a party taking place at a snow-covered castle on the picturesque Skellige Islands.

But referring to the viking bash as just a “party” is quite the understatement. A gluttonous feast, where the mead flowed as freely as the blood – from the sporting bare-knuckle boxing matches, of course – the gathering made a “Game of Thrones” soiree look like a child’s birthday party.

The obscenely over-the-top celebration was cut short, however, by a trio of party-crashing bears. The enormous fanged and clawed creatures passed on the viking feast in favor of the attendants themselves; following a few chaotic minutes of horrific screams and spilled blood, the main hall’s revelers were replaced by fresh corpses and terrified bystanders.

Armed with Geralt’s silver blade and a fistful of fire, we took some strategic swipes at the four-legged foes before setting their thick coats ablaze. The powerful animals wouldn’t back down, however, so an occasional Aard sign – a telekinesis-like blast – was also incorporated to keep the beasts at bay. After thwarting all threats and surveying the carnage surrounding us, the game switched gears; having allowed us to get comfortable behind the titular monster-slayer’s impressive combat abilities, it was time to introduce his clue-gathering skills.

While the murderous monsters were silenced, the motive behind their massacre was a mystery Geralt was intent on solving. Utilizing his “Witcher Sense,” a vision-enhancing power that highlights important objects in the environment, we investigated the crime scene. After studying one of the downed bears – right down to its head, torso, and limbs – and a barrel of mead, we determined that the attackers were once men. Transformed via a potent combination of tainted mead and mysterious mushrooms, the man-beasts were let loose on the unsuspecting guests.

This revelation, however, provided just one piece of the complex puzzle. Over the next 15 or so minutes, our quest would pose more mysteries – and ensuing action sequences – than an episode of “CSI.”  A chat with a mushroom-versed character and a visit to the castle’s wine cellar led to a close call with a Molotov cocktail, followed by a narrow escape through a secret passage. It was a torn piece of clothing left by the culprit, though, that eventually yielded a seat-of-the pants horse chase.

The satisfying sequence of events culminated in the capture of the mead-poisoning menace, an act that came with this colorfully phrased threat: “You’ll be chained to a rock without food and water, where sea fowl will pick apart your remains.” The twists that unraveled as our investigation progressed were as rewarding as the detective work itself, but we’d rather go for round two with the man-bear mutants than spill any story spoilers. Still, without revealing too much, we’ll say that our clue-collecting and interrogating eventually saw the unexpected crowning of a new Skellige queen.

Finally, there’s some great news for those who have haven’t picked up an Xbox One and are looking for another great option to jump into
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s action: we recently announced two new exclusive Xbox One bundles which will launch in select EMEA markets* timed to the game’s release on May 19. On top of delivering the only place to play the best exclusives and all the biggest blockbusters together with live TV and your favorite entertainment apps, the Xbox One The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Bundle and Xbox One The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Bundle with Kinect both include a digital download code for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and more. Fans in EMEA markets should check with their local retailers for more details on availability.

We look forward to cracking more cases – and monster skulls – when
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt begins possessing Xbox One players on May 19.

* The Xbox One “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” Bundle will be available in AT, BE, CZ, DK, ES, FR, DE, GR, HU, IE, IE, IL, IT, NL, NO, PL, PT, RU, SA, SK, TU, ZA, UK, UAE.  The Xbox One “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” Bundle with Kinect will be available in CZ, GR, HU, PL, RU, SK, SA, ZA, TU, UAE.