It has been a great year for CD Projekt Red. It released The Witcher 3 in May to critical acclaim, was praised for its numerous drops of DLC for the game, and then released one of the best pieces of DLC this year in the form of Hearts of Stone. While it was definitely a great expansion of equal quality to the main game, there were certain aspects that could have been included, or merely refined to make it a perfectly crafted expansion.
With 2016 set to round off The Witcher 3 with its final expansion, Blood and Wine, we take a look at six ways in which the upcoming expansion can be molded from Hearts of Stone’s hits and ever so slight misses.
More Side Quests
One area where Hearts of Stone stumbled somewhat was side quests, or lack of them. While there were a couple dotted around on noticeboards that you could complete, there weren’t anywhere near as many as we’d have expected, or liked. Part of what made The Witcher 3 feel so inhabited and like it could live on without Geralt being around was the noticeboards full of quests, random notes, and contracts. So the small amount of side quests in Hearts of Stone was disappointing, though understandable with it being the smaller expansion.
However, with Blood and Wine opening up a whole new unexplored area of the map, it isn’t too far-fetched to hope that CD Projekt Red will populate it with new creatures, side quests and fill this new area of the map with plenty of ‘?’ giving us plenty of reasons to explore every nook and cranny of this vibrant, new world.
While it lacked side quests, Hearts of Stone did, however, continue the excellent storytelling and narrative that the main game did so well. Bringing a whole host of new characters, a reason to care about what we were doing, and ultimately a tough decision to make at the end of the game, we couldn’t help but applaud CD Projekt Red for the effort that was put into the story of Hearts of Stone.
With Blood and Wine being the larger expansion of the two, it’s quite likely that CD Projekt Red will continue their trend of creating finely crafted stories, interwoven with excellent dialogue and interesting characters. Little is really known about Blood and Wine at the moment, but we’re hoping to hear more from CD Projekt Red soon.
While there were a few new side quests in Hearts of Stone, the expansion seemed to completely ignore Witcher Contracts, the notices on boards that would have Geralt fighting some of the strongest and most dangerous foes of the world. Witcher Contracts were one of the most entertaining distractions from the main quest of The Witcher 3, challenging the player to find the best attack and defend pattern to beat each creature. With Blood and Wine being set in a completely new environment, we’re hoping to see its wild unknown populated with fiendish creatures, and new towns’ noticeboards jam-packed with contracts.
By the time you’ve finished a large portion of the main game, and then the Hearts of Stone expansion, Geralt is more than likely a pretty high level too. This could potentially lead to some really tricky battles with some of the most grotesque and devilishly difficult creatures that CD Projekt Red can conjure up. If The Witcher 3 is to go out with a bang, this would certainly be one way to guarantee it.
New Weapons and Armor
The Hearts of Stone expansion brought us new weapons and armor for us to play around with and, more importantly, Runewords and Glyphwords. These allowed us to bolster our favorite weapons and armor with some added buffs such as increasing Geralt’s stamina by 25% with each kill, or receiving a permanent boost from using a Grindstone. This added an element of tactical depth to combat proceedings in Hearts of Stone and made our weapons feel truly powerful.
While Hearts of Stone did bring some new weapons and armor, including some exclusive rare swords only obtainable through defeating specific bosses or making a certain choice at the end of the expansion, we’d like to see even more added into Geralt’s potential armory in Blood and Wine.
Throw in some new weapon types, more powerful weapons to deal with stronger enemies and even some more Runewords and Glyphwords to give us that slight advantage. Perhaps the expansion will introduce us to the possibility of a new Witcher school or group that could result in a new hunt for the ‘school gear’ like the base game did. More variation in our armory can only lead to more entertaining battles and even greater possibilities when in combat.
Hearts of Stone certainly delivered on the humor. A quest involving wedding celebrations, in particular, comes to mind, which allowed us to see a side of Geralt that no fan thought they would ever see. Having Geralt wander around the wild, slaying Forktails and the like with donkey ears on certainly lightened the mood in Hearts of Stone. What really stood out, however, was the brilliant dialogue in this particular scene which saw Geralt flirting with women, speaking in delicate and elaborate language, and just being completely out of character for our rough and serious Witcher.
While we certainly don’t want the expansion to be plagued with jokes and gags, the occasional one dropped in just as it was in Hearts of Stone certainly wouldn’t go amiss. However, with the story to Blood and Wine being almost completely unknown at this time, it’s difficult to say whether CD Projekt Red will be able to sneak in a few laughs. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Hearts of Stone’s main quest had Geralt crossing paths with all manner of different characters, some humorous, such as the fire eater at the wedding, and others mysterious, Master Mirror for example. This has been something that CD Projekt Red has consistently knocked out the park. These characters all felt like real people with differing motives, personalities, and priorities.
The most striking example of this was the two characters that Hearts of Stone focused its story on, Master Mirror and Olgierd von Everec. As we first began our Hearts of Stone quest, it seemed like it was a clear cut story of good and evil, but as the story unfolded and we delved further into each character’s past, it became abundantly clear that we had been mistaken.
CD Projekt Red certainly have a knack for bringing characters to life and making each and every one of them feel unique. If Blood and Wine continues to introduce Geralt to more memorable faces, we won’t complain.
What are you hoping to see in the Blood and Wine expansion? Have we missed anything off our list that you think Hearts of Stone did particularly well or poorly? Let us know in the comments below.