The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt could be one of the biggest games ever made. It's basically a virtual continent — complete with characters, quests and monsters to slay. That said, a gigantic open-world fantasy RPG has been done before — just look at Bethesda's Skyrim. The Witcher 3 has made a lot of lofty promises, prompting some to question whether a game on this kind of scale is even possible.

With only a week left before release, early reviews of The Witcher 3 are starting to hit the Internet. There's a lot riding on CD Projekt Red's latest Witcher title. Can The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt possibly live up to the towering expectations of its fanbase — or will it crumble under the weight of its own grand ambitions?

Judging from the first reviews, not only does The Witcher 3 succeed on a grand scale, it raises the bar for every other RPG to follow. It's not just a massive role-playing game — it is truly a living, breathing world.

For many gamers, the sole reason to play something like The Witcher is its story, and Wild Hunt manages to deliver a worthy finale to a nearly decade-old franchise. It might not be perfect, but for fans who have followed Geralt's story since 2007 should be satisfied with how CD Projekt Red chose to close out his story. From Kotaku's Kirk Hamilton:

"The resulting tale is remarkably dense and far-reaching, sweeping up dozens of characters across several warring nations, all while straining admirably to resolve numerous lingering plot threads from the first two Witcher games while maintaining focus on the father and daughter at its emotional core. No story could accomplish so much with perfect grace, but I was surprised by how close Wild Hunt came, and how often."

Wild Hunt isn't just about telling a linear story, but letting players change the world around them. It's something that other games have promised, but failed to accomplish. Wild Hunt, by contrast, succeeds in every sense of the word. From GameInformer's Kimberley Wallace:

"Unlike games that offer a few key choices to alter the narrative, The Witcher 3 provides abundant options that can shape the world in all kinds of ways... I was surprised at the variety and how well-written the quests are — everything holds an unexpected story, like a jealous woman trying to steal her sister's werewolf boyfriend. It made exploring the world a blast; I always looked forward to revisiting past people I helped to see what path I set them on."

While the sheer number of choices embedded within the story is great, Wild Hunt is still a game — thankfully, the game's combat and exploration only add to the sense of grandeur created by the story. From IGN's Vince Ingenito:

"All of this shines through in The Witcher 3's responsive, brutal real-time combat. Where combat in this series has up until this point felt vague and even a bit clunky, here it's so fluid and satisfying that I walk around hoping for bandits to jump me... The Witcher has always done a great job of making me feel that I've outsmarted my foes, but for the first time here, controlling Geralt feels tangibly badass with every successful fight."

Unfortunately, the game isn't perfect: reviewers were given the PlayStation 4 version of the game, which seemingly isn't able to keep up with the game's action from time to time. While it doesn't seem to break the game, the console version does have some noticeable dips, as Gamespot's Kevin VanOrd describes:

"...it is undoubtedly beautiful, though prone to occasional bugs and visual glitches. Solving a quest's subtasks in a particular order caused the game to stick at a perpetual loading screen... Geralt's hair blew in the wind, even when he was indoors. It's jarring should you enter an area after quick-traveling and the citizens have yet to pop in, including quest-givers. These distractions stand out in part because The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is otherwise incredible and sumptuous; the little quirks are pronounced when they are surrounded by stellar details."

All in all, it seems that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is truly the game CD Projekt Red promised all those years ago. It's hugely ambitious, and while there are occasional moments of a less-than-perfect performance, Wild Hunt is a landmark title. With this much universal praise, there's a good chance that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt could go on to be one of the defining games of the current console generation.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt hits store shelves on May 19.


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