The Witcher 3’s first DLC, Hearts of Stone is what I would like to call, the best expansion pack for a Triple A title of 2015. Bare in mind we do dive into SPOILERS so read on at your own peril.
CD Projekt Red’s first DLC release for its critically acclaimed RPG The Witcher 3 blew me away, it made me incredibly happy, then somewhat sad. The story woven into the main quest drove me to keep playing, from its intricate plot twists to its epic boss fights, this DLC is seriously one of the best expansion packs I have ever played.
The story is somewhat simple, you are Geralt of Rivia, who is tasked by an immortal bandit named Olgierd von Everec, to slay a giant toad-like monster residing in the sewers under a town called Oxenfurt. He does so, but with drastic consequences, because, that toad was actually a cursed prince! So, basically, Geralt ends up being taken prisoner on a ship, when he is later rescued by Gaunter O’Dimm, or, Master Mirror, an extremely powerful ally. Anyway, Geralt is free but bound by contract to Gaunter, a contract that sends you down a quest line that requires you to make 3 wishes come true which would end up making Gaunter immortal. Not going into too much detail one of the high points see you resurrecting a corpse and taking him out for a night on the town. There is obviously alot more to the core quest line storywise but I'll leave that for you to discover.
The voice acting and character animations as with previous Witcher titles are top notch, couple that with a perfect accompanying soundtrack and a powerful theme and Hearts of Stone is simply beautiful. There really isn’t a lot that I can say about it that I have not said about the The Witcher 3 already, but there is a particular theme in this DLC that makes me want to go back and replay it all again.
The combat mechanics have not changed that much, apart from a new form of Enchanting which involves Runewords and Glyphwords, where you can enchant your gear with words, that give great bonuses. Bonuses vary from increased overall damage on your melee attacks, to more regeneration when eating food. This brought a fresh of breath air to the combat in The Witcher 3, and it was quite fun to play around with these enchantments. Something that isn't overly fun is the still somewhat clunky movement controls, fans of The Witcher will know those struggles all too well and sadly those problems make their way into Hearts of Stone.
CD Projekt Red have again handled the original lore and source material admirably, Hearts of Stone delivers a great story, new mechanics and yet another reason to jump back into Geralt's shoes.
3.5 out of 5
Hearts of Stone is an amazing expansion and welcome addition to The Witcher 3. There is a very slight lack of side quests and roughly 10-15 hours of content in this DLC, which is still great, but considering that the main quest took up a lot of that time, some more side quests to play around with would have topped it off nicely.