The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a truly massive game. We've broken down just how large the game's world is, but that doesn't put into perspective just how many hours you can spend exploring the world CD Projekt Red has created. Around every corner is a new adventure, whether it is a quest for the main story or a monster to hunt down as part of a contract.
That's the beauty of Witcher 3: every aspect of the game feels like it has purpose. There is no filler here. Side quests are meaningful, interesting and often lead to great rewards, but even exploring the game world without a quest to guide you can lead to plenty of interesting discoveries.
Therein lies the problem. Because the Witcher 3 is filled with so much content, so much important, fun and rewarding content, I feel wrong to try and skip any of it. As a result I've played for close to 40 hours, reached level 16 and haven't yet stepped foot in Skellige.
In fact, I haven't even done all that much on the mainland. I've done many of the sidequests and Witcher contracts when I've come across them, but I haven't even begun to journey out and uncover the hundreds of question marks that litter the game map. And I'm sure there are plenty of contracts and side missions I'm missing.
What I'm trying to say is that Witcher 3 both excites me and exhausts me. I love every aspect of the game, from the visuals to the storytelling, from the crafting to the combat. But every time I boot the game up a sense of hopelessness washes over me. I'm slowly making my way through the game, but at this point I wonder if there is even a point. Adding insult to injury is CD Projekt Red's seemingly never-ending amount of goodwill. Not only do they make Witcher 3 one of the most jam-packed games of all time, but it then has the audacity to add even more to it in the form of 16 free pieces of DLC. I found myself downloading extra quests for the game despite knowing very well I would likely never find time to even finish them.
Then it added New Game Plus, and I bowed my head in defeat. I'll be lucky to finish the game at all, much less start again with New Game Plus.
From what I can tell, I'm not the only one. On a personal level, I don't have a single friend or acquaintance who has managed to complete the game's main storyline. Considering I know many a hardcore gamer, that's certainly saying something. But it's not just people I know. It seems the vast majority of players who purchase the game have yet to cross the finish line. According to Witcher 3 achievement data pulled from Steam, only 21.6 percent of all gamers playing the game through Valve's wildly popular game service have finished Witcher 3's final story quest.
Only 21.6 percent. Now that doesn't mean the other 79 percent (well, 78.4 percent) of players aren't having a good time with the game. Some of those players very likely could have put more than a hundred hours into the title. They simply haven't finished the final story quest. But it's an interesting statistic nonetheless, one that gives us a little insight into how much time a gamer can spend in the playground CD Projekt Red has built.
The game has been out for three months but the majority of players have yet to complete Geralt's story. For any other game, three months would be ample time to finish, but for Witcher 3, it feels like three months is just enough time for me to scratch the surface.
It's obvious in this day and age that gamers want to find value in what they are buying. For many, spending $60 on a 10-hour experience, regardless of quality, doesn't justify the price tag. Witcher 3, however, is on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Witcher 3 is so vast, so full of things to do, that I feel as if I'll never get the full experience.
With so many games coming out this holiday season, among them another open-world epic in the form of Fallout 4, I wonder when I'll find time to do everything I want to do in Witcher 3. Will it be six months from now? A year? Three summers from now, during a particularly nasty gaming drought? Who is to say. I simply don't have as much free time to game as in years past. It's a first-world problem, to be sure. With my limited gaming time I try to cram in as many varied experiences as possible, and that makes dedicating 100-plus hours solely to the Witcher 3 a massive undertaking.
Even more depressing is the fact that I bought the game's expansion pass, which CD Projekt Red boasts will add roughly 30 hours of gameplay and be comparable to the size of Witcher 2. For the price of $25, CD Projekt Red is practically adding a whole other game on top of Witcher 3.
That's insane. It's an insanely good deal for gamers who are looking to get the most bang for their buck, but for players who have limited time to game, Witcher 3's size is more than a little intimidating. CD Projekt Red is to be commended for crafting what is sure to be one of the best RPGs of this console generation. With strategic combat, brilliantly realized characters and a truly breathtaking world, Witcher 3 is riding high as the king of western RPGs. It's just a shame that a fraction of those who bought the game will get to experience all of it.