The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Just Became The Perfect Christmas Game
So many people are going to replay The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt when it comes to PS5 and Xbox Series X next month. It isn’t even a new version of the game, only a graphical update that will improve visuals, performance, and add a whole bunch of cosmetic content. This will be more than enough to entice hardcore fans for another round of Gwent though, with CD Projekt Red’s RPG classic standing the test of time remarkably well. It’s something special, making a return to the spotlight at a potentially perfect time of year.
Arriving on December 14, Wild Hunt’s new-gen bender is going to disrupt my GOTY plans with the utmost precision as I can’t help myself from installing the luscious new version to see what all the fuss is about. Much like Cyberpunk 2077, I imagine the jump won’t be as huge as some are expecting. It already looks amazing – if a bit janky – and this update will refine what already exists instead of uprooting the foundations. That’s fine, since I and many others have been away from the game long enough for it all to feel fresh again.
Christmas is meant to be about opening presents and spending valuable time with family and friends, but for gamers it’s often a period of solitude. Less so for me nowadays, but there will be winter evenings ahead where I settle down with some snacks, pop on a warm jumper and try to make a dent in my backlog. The Callisto Protocol and Marvel’s Midnight Suns are just a few of the games I want to get through, but I know Wild Hunt is going to tickle my fancy even if I try to avoid it. Years have passed since I hit credits originally, and I never got through the two expansions despite starting them several times over. Friends have told me these are not only excellent, but boast stories and characters stronger than that of the base game, so it is finally time for me to bite the bullet and jump in. The saturated fields of Toussaint await.
While it’s designed to absorb dozens of hours from most players, Wild Hunt is also oddly digestible in smaller chunks. Many of its quests, whether you are progressing the main narrative or indulging in side adventures, can be played in smaller sittings without ever falling behind. CDPR had the genius idea of small voiced cutscenes playing whenever you load a game, acting as a handy primer of what has happened thus far and where exactly you are in the story. Given how long the quest to find Dandelion took me, I switched off so often until its hooks finally sunk in. When it did, I never looked back and saw Geralt’s journey through to the end. Almost anyway, since his final farewell apparently takes place at the end of Blood & Wine. There is too much game here, and I owe it to myself to finish it now it’s set to look and play better than ever. A couple of new games in this universe and a remake of the first are on the way too, so it might be my final chance to see it all without compromise.
Wild Hunt is sprawling enough that random evenings can be lost doing nothing at all, sitting aside your siblings as day turns into night across the fields of Skellige. I’m not brave enough to set up consoles in the living room, often leaving that privilege to my older brothers as we partake in split-screen games of Halo while remembering to check on the turkey. But there will be new hardware in the house this Christmas as we descend on my parent’s abode with a healthy dose of millennial cynicism, angrily making sure the old fuckers aren’t still watching everything in standard definition before showing them how utterly sick Wild Hunt looks on a 4K display with this fancy new update. We might do for ten minutes before trying and failing to start up a game of Jackbox where ‘cum’ isn’t the answer to everything (rules with family are always different), but away from the spotlight I just know a mixture of curiosity and nostalgia will bring me back to Geralt of Rivia.
I promise it won’t be on my GOTY list though, so long as I finish Ragnarok in time. Christmas has always been a period of tradition and familiarity, where comfort often takes precedence over new experiences when you just want to forget everything and relax for a few precious days. Yes, I’m part of the problem for revisiting a game instead of trying something new, but the idea of booting up Wild Hunt on a festive morning and sharing its brilliance with someone already sounds like an amazing idea. Give Geralt a Santa hat while you’re at it.
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