Blood and Wine

During almost every second of playtime, I thought that Witcher 3 was one of the best games (if not even the best) I ever played and that was before Blood and Wine was released. So I don’t even know what to say at this point. Blood and Wine reminded me of Mysteries of the Sith (I’m aware no one knows what I’m talking about), in that it delivered improvements most other developers would have held back for a sequel instead of putting it into an expansion.
It becomes obvious right away that they took a long hard look at the game and tried to come up with solutions to make it even better. They didn’t “just” go ahead and built more of the same – something that would have already been perfectly fine with me. No, they knew that many of the ? felt like cheap filler content (those ? in Skellige on the water made Velen feel like the more polished part of the game, sadly) and ended up turning almost every ? in Toussaint in a place worth visiting. I’d like to imagine this is what they might have wanted to do in the first place, but couldn’t, because they had to fill such a gigantic game world with enough content so it wouldn’t feel empty.
Even for ? which don’t have anything major, there are now at least some story bits and pieces of what’s going in this part of the world. It’s also often tied to something else, deepening the understanding of events.
The positive surprises go on from there. Bigger bandit camps now have their own boss battles at the end and lead to a cool scene, when Toussaint’s knights take those bases over. This makes it memorable and the player feels more like actually having achieved/changed something.
Abandoned places have gotten a similar tweak, in W3 the inhabitants popped up right away after Geralt killed the last monster, as if they were waiting right around the corner, which is a little silly. Now, Geralt meditates at the end and it is thus suggested, that it takes a little bit more time, until things normalize and the people come back. It makes sense. I just wish Geralt would also regain all his potions/bombs automatically, since he is basically shown meditating.
The quests are good, there is a lot of fun and interesting stuff in there. It is actually not as crazy as I expected it to be, since I suspected they might embrace fanservice a lot more than anyone normally would, this being the very last piece of DLC for W3 and nothing less than the sendoff for Geralt too…
But this is the moment when I always realize that it is possible to complain even about the best games, if you just try hard enough. With games like Witcher 3 there’s just this point, at which one has so much good content, that it is possible to accept that some nice things didn’t happen. W3 was so good, that I could overlook the fact that they acted like Iorveth and Saskia never happened. In a lot of other games this would have pissed me off, but all the rest in W3 was so stellar, that it became acceptable.
Would I have wanted a big party at the end? Of course, but the truth is that bigger is not always better and the ending to BaW is effective and it works. That’s at least as important.
So in the end Blood and Wine is an expansion, that is bigger and offers more than most other games and costs less than half at the same time. It’s really a no brainer. Everyone who played W3 wants to play this too. The bugs I encountered are a joke in comparison to most other games and I expect them to do at least one more patch before they put this game in their archives.

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