After binging ‘The Witcher’ Netflix series I downloaded ‘The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’ to learn more about the lore and where the next season will be going. Having spent now 300 hours finishing every single quest in the game (including both DLCs), here are some things I think show fans will find interesting that the game expands on.
All Image Credits: CD Projekt Red
HOW WATCHING THE SHOW ENHANCES THE GAME
It was just past the new year and ‘The Witcher’, despite early negative reviews, was doing fantastic for Netflix in terms of viewership. There were a lot more people interested in the series than anticipated. With well-spoken regards into Henry Cavill’s acting and uplifting support of the series, not just as the lead, Geralt of Rivia, but as a fellow fan of the series. I’d binged ‘The Witcher’ to record a podcast and do scene-by-scene recaps simply because of Cavill’s enthusiasm.
And as I’d diligently watched the show, I’d quickly found myself fully enmeshed into the fantasy elements of the story. Enough to find myself downloading the game during a New Year’s sale to try it out.
At first, I disliked the gameplay, which I list several reasons why the game is flawed below. But as I kept going because of the very detailed story, I found myself lost in the lore. Caught elements from the TV series that I had recognized in the game which made me want to play for hours more. The Geralt and Yennefer future storylines of course, but also Nilfgaard, and their soon to be seen longstanding wars against the North. As in the show, what we’ve seen so far in the conflict is truly just beginning.
Most importantly, we got to see the adventures of Ciri. Who didn’t have as large of a role in season one of the show, but plays arguably the biggest role in the overall story. Moreso than Geralt.
And over time, I got used to the controls and started to really enjoy the game. What’s nice about the lore in The Witcher 3 is that it’s incredibly detailed and full of conflict, with decisions that focus less on the nature of good and evil, and often, falls upon choices that seem morally grey. The lesser evil. A living and breathing universe onto itself with a rich history that feels alive on its own. Even when you’re not playing.
Priscilla, Zoltan, and Jaskier/Dandylion chat with Geralt. Each has their own featured story.
We covered what makes this game so great a long time ago, along with the many reasons why the game was groundbreaking for its time. But what’s nice about playing the game after watching the show, is that you start to recognize who and what is important in the grand scheme of the lore and why. How a lot of the people we’ve met in the show are just introductions to bigger and better dramatic stories.
There’s a lot to unpack from a Netflix viewer’s perspective. With Season Two already confirmed for an 8-episode length and the official casting of old man Vesemir, Geralt’s mentor added into the fold.
A member of The Wild Hunt being attacked from behind by Vesemir.
WHERE THE GAME EXPANDS UPON THE TV SERIES
Now, there are some storylines exclusively adapted in the TV series: Geralt’s ‘Butcher of Blaviken’ origins, The fall of Cintra, Renfri’s Curse of the Black Sun, Yennefer’s origins, and the mage school of Aretuza. All plots well-executed and developed by the Netflix series that hadn’t been explored to that depth in both the source material or games. Conversely, here are some of the plotlines that the game expands on that the show already mentioned.
The Druid, Mousesack. Episode 1.
Better known as Ermion in the game, we spend a great deal of time with him in Skellige in ‘The Witcher 3’ and see the kind of druid he is and why his respect is well-deserved by his peers. He plays a larger supporting role in the game than in the series. With an emphasis on the differences between druids and mages.
The King of the Elves, Fillavandrel. Episode 2.
Despite his minimal screentime, both the introduction to Filavandfel and the conflict of the Elves regarding the loss of Dol Blathana to humans, play a huge role in the lore of The Witcher. Especially, regarding the themes of racism against non-humans. In Witcher 3, we learn more about the Elven rebels and their organization, the Scoia’tael, also known as the squirrels. These rebels prove to be a troublesome raiding force who are promised a free and independent Dol Blathana if they choose to join the fight against the North and join the Nilfgaardian empire. It’s a major twist and a great way the show can explore racism and ‘the lesser evil’ dilemma in the North.
Temeria and King Foltest. Episode 3.
I really thought episode 3 was going to be a one-off adventure, but as I played the game I soon realized: King Foltest is arguably the biggest political figure in the series. Which I did not expect nor see coming. He’s a major deal in The Witcher games, as Foltest’s armies are the strongest force after the fall of Cintra, and Temeria soon becomes the leader of the main opposition in the North against Nilfgaard. Expect plenty more from this storyline.
The Hedgehog Knight. Episode 4.
Once you play The Witcher 3, you start to realize just how unbelievably important this episode is in the whole of the series. There is so much more to elaborate upon but I won’t for spoilers. Just remember, it’s crucial for the story to remember ‘The child that was promised’ and the importance of the Elder Blood. And how this knight will play a large role. Which is a game-changing reveal close to the heart of the series.
The Last Wish. Episode 5
‘The Last Wish’ becomes a story of legend in The Witcher, as Jaskier’s story is found and collected everywhere in The Witcher 3. In the game, they also discuss Geralt’s wish to Yennefer in detail and make a tough decision about whether theirs is a relationship of actual love. During this late-game quest, the game also delves into D’jinns. With an option to battle one or two of them in-game.
Villentretenmerth. Episode 6
It’s a Golden Dragon. What’s not to be awestruck about it? And while this tale becomes a Legend in almost every iteration/adaptation of ‘The Witcher’ material, what’s not known until you play ‘The Witcher’ games is that the baby dragon Villentretenmerth adopts, later to be known as Saskia, plays a major role in the lore. Particularly, with the war with the elves and the conflict with Nilfgaard.
The Sorceror Vilgefortz. Episode 7+8
They don’t really do a good job of it in the show but Vilgefortz is a MAJOR deal in the series. He plays a major role in the lore and history and his treachery by the end of the show’s season finale is very telling. Can’t stress enough, he’s a powerful wizard who influences much of the events in the story.
The Battle of Sodden Hill. Episode 7+8
It’s not referenced in the show but in the games, this actually marks the end of the first Nilfgaard war (There’s 3 in total in the games). Its a major turning point in the ongoing war between the North and South. With Triss’s scars and role becoming something of legend.
Speaking of which, I’d be remiss not to mention Yennifer and Triss’s stories in the game. Though Yenn is seen as Geralt’s true love, Triss actually has a romantic relationship with Triss in the first two games that’s heavily explored upon in The Witcher 3. Though both are important to the order of the sorceress.
If you’d like to see more differences, UnleashTheGamer.com has an interesting comparison between the books, games, and Netflix series.
The game had paid so much attention to detail that people are still finding secrets about gameplay choices and Easter eggs its fifth year into its original release. Which speaks wonders about the quality of Witcher 3 five years later. ‘The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’ resurging onto the scene because of the Netflix series, but also because of its massive attention to detail.
But the gameplay, like many modern RPGs, has its fair share of bugs, platforming issues, and UI problems. There are areas you can glitch stuck in such as marsh holes in Velen or behind object crevices. There are also herbs that seem annoyingly difficult to pick up, as the run/pickup buttons are the same (a horrible decision in my opinion). There’s also a really annoying glitch where I found myself unable to submerge underwater in Skellig due to combat against sirens. In fact, there are a lot of problems with the battle engagement/running away system, especially when dodge and jump are interchangeable depending on if you’re exploring or fighting. And though a lot of people praise this game as groundbreaking at its time, in 2020, after massive adventure games like Horizon: Zero Dawn, Red Dead Redemption and Breath of The Wild the experience just doesn’t hold up as well in comparison.
But the story is still fantastic.
Still, problems aside, it’s combat system is fun and challenging. Especially, once you learn a style that suits you: mixing sign use, sword slashing techniques, and potions. With builds that can be reset mid-game using potions, so you can tweak your character in different ways you’d like to suit your style. There’s a very cool feature to scale enemy battles more toward your level so that it’s always a challenge. Even after the late game-breaking parts where you Geralt becomes a bit overpowered depending on your build.
Atop of this, there is an insane amount of quests. With every quest feeling like a tiny world in itself due to its massiveness. Everyone has backstory and motivations, with consequences that matter and influence your game’s ending. ‘The Witcher 3’ having distinctly different endings depending on your in-game decisions, in a branching story that’s one of the few games that seems to do it right.
Much like the weighted decisions depicted on the show, the game emphasizes choices and how it influences your game’s many ending. Below are a few major ones I’ve listed that I think exemplify some of the challenging choices in the game.
Ciri and Geralt discussing the life she wants to live. What you choose determines your game ending. Particularly, her fate and by proxy, the fate of the world.
One of the things most updates don’t delve into is that you have to make a decision between choosing Yen or Triss. You can’t profess your love for both without consequences.
Below are a few new locations explored in the game that are of interest. Technically, we’ve visited the palace of Vizima (Foltest’s home) so I omitted it form the examples.
The wealthiest town of the north, smack dab middle of the action in the third Nilfgaard war. Run by a religious organization and secret mobster rulers, it’s a city on the edge of racial tension, as non-humans are kept outside the city in shantytowns, and mages are being persecuted and burnt at the stake.
The Witcher 3 really captures the beautiful Viking culture of Skellige. Think Iron Born from GOT but with honor. It’s Interesting that King Eist and Mousesack are from here, as they claim in episode 4 that the wedding was a boring affair compared to Skellige celebrations. Which we learn is absolutely true in Witcher 3.
Fairytale Land deep in Beauclair. One of the beautiful Endgame Locations.
I can’t stress enough that this DLC is a small 20-40 hour game in itself. This part of the game is along sought breath of fresh air meant to be a paradise. A take on Don Quite. The food is delicious. Everything sells for a lot higher. And they even introduce new Gwent card decks. With a new special features system, where you can unlockable more abilities. Though all necessitated on Red/Green/Blue Mutagens so definitely save some.
There’s also a vampire murder mystery. And as depicted above, a fairytale land with Rapunzel, Thumbelina, Giants, etc.
This is hands down one of the best epilogues and DLCs I’ve ever witnessed in a game.
On a side note. Did you know actress MyAnna Buring who plays Tissaia De Vries is also the voice actress for Dutchess Anna Henrietta from Touissant in Witcher 3?!
Easily some of the best things about The Witcher is the monster designs and creatures. We saw a few of them get slain by Geralt on the path in Netflix: The Kikimora, Sylvans, Striga, Dopplers, and Dragons. But ‘The Witcher 3’ really opens up on the monster bestiary. So Listed below are some of the most terrifying creatures in the game in detail that you should definitely check out/slay.
Based on the Leshy of Slavic lore, Leshens are powerful demonic like protectors of the forest scattered in several locations throughout Witcher 3. They can disappear from view in an instance, try and teleport to flank and impale you with sharp wood claws. They can summon packs of wolves to devour an unsuspecting foe, and even summon or turn into a swarm of crows. A Leshen’s danger is in its range, utilizing the aforementioned techniques to distract you and create space as the Leshen impales with a penetrating rooted attack from the ground can nearly one-hit kill you if caught off-guard.
The best way to describe a Hym is if suffering were a person’s quite literal shadow, following and haunting them everywhere they turned. A demonic spirit that posses those conflicted with acts of extreme guilt, they drive their hosts into madness, whispering to them in silence and causing severe depression, often driving them to acts of aggression, violence, and especially: self-harm. You encounter one as part of a secondary quest in Skellige.
Easily some of the most horrific bosses in-game, the three witches are known as the ‘Ladies of the Wood’ in Velen, serving as somewhat demi-gods that are worshiped by the populace. A play on the evil witches in the woods from folklore, with all the usual tropes of a coven of three, sexy alluring counterparts, using candy to lure children, and of course: blood and cannibalism. Beyond the horror factor, you also get a nifty questline where you sort of decide the fate of the Gods in Velen, with The Crones playing a huge factor as to what happens to the surrounding swamplands.
Minus the spoilers, we sort of meet Prince Charming in the ‘Heart of Stone’ DLC and he’s not at all what he’s cracked up to be.
For more, check this out for some of the creepiest enemies of The Witcher 3
I, like many people, bought the game on sale because of the TV series but had no idea what I was getting into. That said, I loved everything about the game and this story is beyond fantastic. Dare I say, even on the levels of characterization and fantasy where I can see it potentially even challenging the best Fantasy TV Adaption Throne now long-held by ‘Game of Thrones’. And yes, it’s a very different story, but after Throne’s final disappointing season and seeing where this story can go I have high hopes.
And officially declare myself team Cirilla over team Daenerys any day.
Tomorrow, I’ll have a new ‘Tips and tricks’ guide to ‘The Witcher 3’, as many of the walkthroughs and guides have become out-of-date; with much of the ‘best’ strategies for earning coin in the game now patched. So if you’d like to play the game… I’ll show you some of the best/easiest ways to do it and show you where to sell items for the most coin.