The Witcher 3’s final DLC, Blood and Wine, is perhaps one of the greatest things I have ever seen from CD Projekt Red. It’s simply perfect and fitting for the end of Geralts’ story.
Be warned we do dive into loose spoiler territory so read on at your own peril.
CD Projekt Red, the main developer of The Witcher 3, has blown my expectations out of the freaking water with this expansion pack. After starting completely fresh, with a preset build, just for Blood and Wine, I had very little idea as to what I was going to expect, I’ve seen the trailer, read various predictions and contributed to forum based conversations…but none of that could have saved me from the sudden surprise of how gorgeous the new continent, Toussaint, is.
Toussaint is extremely vast, it's roughly around the same size as Velen, and is a rich and wondrous land, full of side-quests that will keep you thoroughly entertained, including one that gives Roach a voice, which, to me, is one of the best side quests in all of The Witcher 3. There are also a bunch of new encounters, which involve helping a group clear out a cave full of vicious monsters. A killer battle indeed.
The story of Blood and Wine is something that honestly, didn’t capture my eye as much as exploring the land of Toussaint, but that isn’t to say that it isn’t interesting. This is going to be an extremely simplified version, because, i personally believe I went a little overboard with the Heart of Stone Review.
You are tasked by the Duchess of Toussaint, to slay a beast which has been killing knights around the palace. The beast ends up being a vampire, the vampire escapes due to the intervention of Geralt’s old friend Regis (who is also a vampire). As the quest line advances you find out the beast is the "Blood Brother" of Regis, known as Dettlaff. Without diving into further spoilers I will say this, I enjoyed the twists and turns the game threw at me. To be honest, I skipped parts of the story, it was getting a bit boring for me, i will explain why soon.
Actually, i’ll explain now. Basically, when i was playing, there was a point where it said “hey, look, if you do this quest, you can’t turn back, you can’t do anything else, alright?” and i’m just thinking “how bad can it be?”. Well, I was not prepared, the amount of balancing problems that I personally have faced (note, this is from my experience, others might be fine!) has turned me away a bit, from having chunks of my life taken away from these invisible vampires, to being stomped on by a bunch of bigger vampires…it made me really bored…I would like to sincerely apologise for those who wanted to see the story in this review, but this experience kinda makes me not want to play the main quest-line again, unfortunately.
With that said, i loaded my previous save (I made a save before the main quest-line warning), and did absolutely everything else in Toussaint, from brawling and general exploration to multiple games of Gwent (I seriously suck at Gwent), Toussaint is so rich with activity and wonder. I will be 100% honest with you right now, i don’t think the majority of the advertised 30+ hours comes from the main quest-line, it took me roughly 8 hours to get to the main boss fight, avoiding pretty much everything else while mostly running away from danger (don't judge me). The most fun I had with Blood and Wine was exploring Toussaint, doing contracts, side-quests, and slaughtering a plethora of new beasts…Blood and Wine to me, isn’t about the story, but about its locale.
There was one particular quest that made me laugh for a long time after completion, and that was when Geralt was tasked to chase down a phantom-like horse shaped beast. But, in order for Geralt to see the spectral horse, he had to drink this hallucinogenic brew that altered your perception in game. The main reason why I absolutely loved this side quest is because your horse, Roach, can now talk, and the banter between Geralt and Roach during the chase, is absolutely amazing. It felt fresh and completely different from the standard “follow this trail, kill this monster, loot and return to get crowns from the contractor”. Overall it is one of the best side quests in The Witcher 3, ever.
There is a new feature which involves mutating mutagens, which brings along a bunch of fresh new types of skills and bonuses, including critical damage/strikes from your signs, or an increased chance of dismemberment against humans and non-humans. I absolutely loved this feature, but unfortunately after having done everything in Toussaint (literally, everything, i cannot do anything else apart from the main-quest, but that’s a no-go for me), I have only levelled up enough to upgrade my mutagens 2 or 3 times. That isn’t to say that the feature is dull and lacking, because honestly, it has a tonne of potential, just the grind attached to levelling leaves a bit to be desired.
There are a few negatives apparent in Blood and Wine, if you have played The Witcher 3 before, you would notice that the movement of Geralt is absolutely horrendous, it feels clunky at times, and it can be frustrating to try and climb things, a wooden structure for example, only to randomly fall off and die. I have also encountered the same bug several times, where even though my sword was drawn, I could not attack, I could still roll and dodge, but trying to block, the animation worked, but the enemies hit you regardless. The overall performance was fine though, minimal frame drops, unless there was a lot happening, such as rain, and a bunch of trees swaying in the wind. Overall, Blood and Wine plays and looks fine, just expect a few things to occur that seem out of the norm.
All in all, Blood and Wine is still one of the greatest expansion packs i have ever played, Toussaint is a huge area, it’s almost necessary to take your time exploring it, just to take in the broody, brilliant atmosphere. From the ominous sound track as you near a dark and gloomy cemetery, to a jaunty tune as you explore towns, and the main city, with various different characters doing varied tasks, from working the vineyards, to stumbling around blind drunk, Toussaint is absolutely gorgeous, I cannot say that enough, and if you manage to finish the main quest-line, good job!
4.5 out of 5
A brilliant expansion pack, full of various activities, bright and colourful characters, and a gorgeous landscape to explore. It’s definitely worth the price tag and is a fitting end to Geralt's fabled adventures.