DLC Review: The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt – Hearts of Stone & Blood and Wine (Xbox One)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an incredible game, one that I put over 80 hours into. It’s deep and detailed world mixed with fascinating characters and interesting quests made for an addictive play. It really is a game that every player should check out and you can read Raptures Lost’s fantastic review here.
I’m not going to repeat what he wrote, instead I’m going to focus on the two major expansions that have been released, Hearts of Stone & Blood and Wine. Both offer significant amounts of extra game play but one is significantly better than the other.
Hearts of Stone
The official statement from CD Projekt Red describes Hearts of Stone like this:
Hearts of Stone will take Geralt on an all-new, 10-hour-plus adventure into the wilds of No Man’s Land and the nooks and alleys of Oxenfurt, where he’ll try to complete a contract from the mysterious Man of Glass. Caught in a thick tangle of deceit, Geralt will need all his cunning and strength to solve the mystery and emerge unscathed.
What’s interesting to note regarding the mysterious Man of Glass is that he is character that you have met in the main game but would have completely forgotten about as he was so irrelevant. Not so in this expansion, here he reveals himself to be a something that maybe even Geralt can’t defeat.
The story in Hearts of Stone is very good, effectively re-telling The Monkey’s Paw story (by W.W. Jacobs). Three wishes but word them correctly or you’ll find it’s not quite what you expected.
Geralt is tasked with resolving an agreement between the Man of Glass and Olgierd von Everic, a nobleman turned bandit. The Man of Glass wants what is owed to him & after he saves Geralt from certain death, Geralt has no choice but to help him. After meeting Olgierd it becomes clear though that this is no easy task as it’s up to our Witcher to help grant his three wishes.
Geralt’s mammoth task will see him entering a new area of the world called No Man’s Land, a very dangerous area filled with plenty of new enemies.
The DLC boasts 10 plus hours of content & that is a fair summation. The main quest is a lengthy one with multiple endings like the main game. There are new side quests, treasure hunts and Witcher contracts to enjoy also. Throw in new characters to meet & potentially romance and it’s easy to get lost in the world without touching the main quest for some time.
Game play-wise there is little new added but the major one is significant. Runewords & Glyphwords offer some real variety in how you approach game play as they can enhance weapons & armour significantly but at a cost (not talking money here). If you’re playing this DLC after the main game then it offers some real change to how your Geralt is set up. They are not worth ignoring as the bonuses can be huge & as this DLC is set for level 30+ characters the challenge is significant. These bonuses can make a lot of difference.
Where this DLC does get criticism relates to one of the Witcher 3’s biggest strengths…the Gwent card game. Anyone who has played The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt will tell you just how great of a mini-game Gwent is & in Hearts of Stone, new Gwent cards are promised…and delivered but to what point?
With few new players to play against & a complete lack of challenge if you’re A seasoned Gwent player there really isn’t much reason for you to go out of your way. If you’re like me and you had every Gwent card you could get in the main game, chances are you’re going to have strong decks, you’re also likely to have mastered their use too. Hearts of Stone just doesn’t offer any kind of important or challenging Gwent updates and that is a real disappointment.
Hearts of Stone is an excellent piece of DLC, an example of how to do it right offering plenty of new content while building on the main game it is supporting, it doesn’t feel separated but if only they had added more to the Gwent side of things.
Blood and Wine
I think the best way to sum up this expansion/DLC is to simply say that it could be its own entire game and no-one would complain.
Blood and Wine, a 30-hour-plus tale that will introduce the all-new in-game region of Toussaint, will take Geralt to a land untainted by war, where an atmosphere of carefree indulgence and knightly ritual masks an ancient, bloody secret.
Welcome to Toussaint, a gorgeous and dangerous land filled with all manner of interesting characters and deadly creatures. Geralt is tasked by the Duchess to stop a series of murders that seem to suggest a beast but one with intelligence. Along the way he will meet old friends, make plenty of new ones and battle some of the toughest enemies in the game so far.
This is an incredible DLC, one that offers so much in the way of additional quests, variations on game play and new mechanics that add more layers to an already deep character development system. The main quest story is excellent, way more interesting then Hearts of Stone with multiple endings and plenty of tough decisions along the way.
The amount of additional side quests, treasure hunts and Witcher contracts has to be seen to be believed. There is a huge amount to enjoy all with plenty of variety & it’s a great way to level your Geralt up as this expansion is set at level 34 and above. By the time I was finished I was level 53, that is how much there is to do.
Blood and Wine introduces the mutation system that can see you now develop variations on Witcher mutations to strength Geralt in a number of ways. It’s fantastic idea & one that really opens up even more development to make your Witcher even better. You can now dye outfits in a number of colours so if you’re not happy with that horrible brown tunic you’ve got on, dye it red or green or black…there is a lot of choice!
The land of Toussaint is a beautiful land, one of the best locations I’ve visited in The Witcher 3. Beautifully sunny it is clearly based on the South of France with it’s focus on wine making and drinking (this does make for some great side-quests). This might be the best the Witcher 3 has looked so it’s a hell of a way for the game to sign off.
Best of all though is the inclusion of a new Gwent deck, the Skellige deck! A brand new deck with 19 cards to collect against many players who can hold their own too. There is also a tournament where you have to play the Skellige deck only, it’s well worth it for the rewards.
When the end credits of Blood and Wine rolled I was sad, sad that I wouldn’t get to enjoy any new Witcher 3 content but I was incredibly satisfied. As DLC’s go Blood and Wine is up there as one of the most rewarding I’ve ever played.
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt expansion pack costs £19.99. For that you get over 40 hours of extra content and it’s not bulked out with pointless filler quests either. This is quality stuff & deserving of the high praise it is getting. By the time I put my controller down I had put 131 hours into the game including these expansions.
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt DLC
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt - Hearts of Stone - 8/10
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine - 10/10