One of the most surprisingly engaging elements of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was its trading card mini-game, Gwent. There was something about that easy to learn, difficult to master game that hooked players enough to make them request a real-world version of the game favored by innkeepers and wandering merchants.
Although we’re sadly still a far way off from a full blown real world version of Gwent, CD Projekt Red have decided to include real decks in Limited Physical Editions of Hearts of Stone. Now you’ll be able to challenge your friends to find out once and for all who is the true Gwent master.
Time to brush up on some tips and tricks so that you can bring your A-game.
A Brand New Story To Get Lost In
Of course, this wouldn’t be a proper expansion if it didn’t come with an amazing new narrative to get lost in. The dev team said they wouldn’t charge for additional content unless it was absolutely worth it, and with 10+ hours of additional story, side quests, and contracts it would appear that Hearts of Stone most certainly fits the bill. Making the deal even sweeter is the fact that Hearts of Stone is its very own story.
Although it takes place in the same areas as Wild Hunt, Hearts of Stone’s narrative is completely standalone, meaning you don’t have to have beaten the main campaign of The Witcher 3 to dive right into this intriguing new quest that places Geralt of Rivia in some rather interesting situations. Breaking into mansions, outsmarting powerful creatures, and partying it up with spirits are just a few of the many things Geralt will get into.
But there is also a deadly serious side to the whole affair. The story is a perfect example of the age old adage “be careful what you wish for.” It will certainly test players limits and give them something to think about.
New Story, New Characters
A new story wouldn’t be so special if it used all of the same characters you’ve just spent the past few hundred hours with. Sure, Dandelion and the Red Baron were great company (aside from the whole “invites danger and depressing scenes” thing), but it’s time for something new. Hearts of Stone definitely delivers by bringing back such characters such as the above red head (if you don’t know who she is, we won’t spoil it for you), and introducing new ones that are just as interesting as anyone else you’ve met in the Witcher series.
One such character is the Man of Glass, a powerful individual who is hard to pin down. Reading him is near impossible, but there is one thing that’s for sure: he is not to be trifled with. You’ll deal with him and many others as you solve yet another mystery .
Geralt of Rivia is many things. He’s a Witcher for starters, genetically modified to be the best at what he does. He’s a warrior, a hunter, a detective of sorts, and, above all else, a lover. Seriously, he just can’t get enough of the romance. You can’t turn away to fight a Leshen for 5 seconds without our white-haired protagonist falling in love with some sorceress, medic, warrior, or whoever else.
Naturally, there is a brand new romance option for players to explore this time around. Whether you choose to remain faithful to Yennefer (the one true love), or to go for something new is entirely up to you.
On top of a brand new story, cast of characters, and romance options, the team over at CDPR felt that they should throw in a new mechanic as well. Runewords are created by combining glyphs in various ways in order to unlock certain perks for Geralt in Hearts of Stone. These are more than simple add-ons for a weapon, they will be needed to solve certain puzzles as well as strongly swing certain encounters into our hero’s favor. Perks such as damage resistance as well as combat abilities, and even specific elemental perks are all available to those willing to experiment.
This powerful new mechanic that players will have to learn also brings along a new NPC, the Ofrian Wizard. This individual will help you research and understand Runewords so that you can better utilize them out in your adventure.
Last, but most certainly not least, are the threats of Hearts of Stone. This expansion takes place in the same regions already available in The Witcher 3, so most of the creatures faced during this adventure will be recognizable, but the developers managed to squeeze in a few extras into the mix. Ranging from simple to terrifying, these creatures will not only grow your Bestiary, but they will lessen the time you spend asleep due to their nightmare inducing presence.
New contracts also await players who enjoy the monster hunting side of being a Witcher more than they do the whole “save the world and innocents” thing Geralt seems to be getting a kick out of nowadays. These contracts will be at a higher level than what Geralt has been used to up until this point, so be prepared to learn new patterns, weaknesses, and frustrations as you fight for your life.
You Can Start Right From Hearts of Stone
Remember, how we said that you didn’t have to actually beat The Witcher 3 in order to enjoy Hearts of Stone? CDPR was very serious about that little tidbit. The upcoming expansion does require players to be somewhere in the vicinity of Level 30, but don’t let that fact deter you. In order to make this new story more accessible, players will have the option to create a special save that boosts them directly to Level 32 while also providing appropriately powerful gear.
Keep in mind that this option locks off any Wild Hunt specific quests (nobody wants you to take the easy way out there), but you’ll at least be able to get right to the meat and potatoes of the game’s large DLC without having to play catch up to those who’ve been playing since launch.
Hearts of Stone is definitely looking like a true expansion. New story, characters, beasts, combat options and more are shaping this experience up to be something more like a brand new game rather than add-on content. It shows that the dev team was serious about only charging for content if it was absolutely worth it, and that’s a damn good thing.
Are you excited for The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone? What has you looking forward to it the most? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.