The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt isn't just a huge game, it's an incredibly deep game. There are so many different systems and mechanics for players to wrap their heads around... not all of which are explained very well. Understanding spells and swords is easy enough, but it can quickly become confusing once you really delve into the game's crafting mechanics.
When it comes to The Witcher's version of alchemy, there's a lot to learn — and the game unfortunately takes a lot of time teaching players how the system works. In the early hours of the game, players are basically given a giant list of ingredients and components with no real idea of how to use them.
So, for those of you who are stuck wondering what to do with all those flower petals, this guide is for you — we'll go over the basics of alchemy, what it does and when to use it. Once you have the foundation down, it'll be easy to see just how much more powerful Geralt can be...
Why Use Alchemy?
At first, it may seem like alchemy isn't all that necessary. Geralt's a pretty powerful guy with just a sword and spells — so why bother with a confusing system that requires picking tons and tons of flowers?
Well, with the right potions and oils, Geralt can easily decimate entire crowds of enemies with just a couple attacks. Knowing when to use a particular concoction can turn the tide of battle in an instant. Using a bomb at just the precise moment – or starting a fight with the proper decoction – can make a seemingly impossible battle an absolute breeze. Plus, for those who are playing through on higher difficulties, alchemy is a necessity.
How to Use Alchemy
At its core, alchemy works the same as crafting armor or weapons, minus the trip to a merchant. Once you have the proper components, enter the menu and choose what you want to create — it's as simple as that.
What you can concoct depends on your ingredients, and figuring out where to find all of the individual items can be maddening — some are found through exploration, others must be bought, and still others can only be created by mixing different, smaller components together.
If you're having trouble finding a specific ingredient, head to the nearest herbalist: they're typically well-stocked with everything you could possibly need. Some of the rarer components will come at a higher cost, while others can be found out in the world for free. Either way, an herbalist will always be your most convenient source for alchemy.
That said, it doesn't make much sense to go out and pick all sorts of flowers without knowing what they can do...
Considering it's the first thing you'll see when you go to craft something, it's a shame that Alchemy Substances aren't explained in more detail. Basically, these are the special materials you'll use to craft other, more complex solutions.
Think of it as an in-between step: you'll take raw ingredients and create an Alchemy Substance — which can then be used to craft more complex items. It's confusing, yes — but it's also an essential step in the alchemy system.
Out of all of the items players can create using alchemy, bombs are the most straightforward. If you've ever used a grenade in a video game, these are basically the same. There are, however, a number of different varieties players can craft. Sure — you have your standard incendiary bombs, but you can also make explosives that slowly poison opponents or prevent mages from using magic. Keeping a variety of bombs is always a good idea — you'll want them at hand in case Geralt gets in over his head.
Whereas bombs are all about their own damage, oils are used for boosting the power of Geralt's swords. Crafting an oil and applying it to one of Geralt's blades will give you a timed buff for that weapon.
Say a group of vampires is giving you a hard time. By crafting and applying Vampire Oil to Geralt's silver sword, you'll recieve a sizable damage boost. But remember to read up on your enemies — just because an oil works on one type of creature doesn't mean it'll work on all of them.
As oils are for boosting Geralt's sword, so decoctions are for boosting Geralt himself. Mechanically, they work in the exact same way: craft an item, apply it to Geralt, and you'll see a boost in power.
What separates decoctions from oils is the variety of different buffs: while oils are all about extra damage, decoctions can do everything from boosting Geralt's stamina recovery to reflecting damage back at attackers. Decoctions don't require quite as much homework, either, so using them should be a bit easier. Just make sure to watch Geralt's toxicity level: the higher it goes, the closer you are to Game Over.
Alchemy can produce some truly powerful items, but potions are the most useful concoctions players can create. Again, if you've ever used something similar in another game, you'll be familiar with how potions work. Of course, it's not just about standard healing and magic regeneration. Geralt can craft potions that allow for night vision, that extend breath underwater or slow enemies' movement to a crawl.
The best part about The Witcher 3's potions - and all other alchemy creations - is that restocking is far easier. Instead of hunting down materials every single time you want a dose of Swallow, Geralt only needs to craft the items once. After that, simply meditating with some alcohol in Geralt's inventory will allow for a full refill — basically, as long as Geralt's got some booze on him, you'll have access to all of your alchemy concoctions. Because of this, using alchemy is far easier and more streamlined than any other Witcher game...which is definitely a good thing, as alchemy can have a huge impact on how you play the game.
Yes, alchemy in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt can be confusing — especially if you're still new to the game. It will ask for materials you don't have and ask for recipes that you've yet to discover. In spite of all this, it's important to stick with it: alchemy is a powerful ally indeed, and learning to take advantage of the system can make playing through the game a much, much smoother experience.
If you've just started the game and need a few pointers, don't forget to check out our Beginner's Guide for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt!
Related: Heroes of the Storm Beginner's Guide