Developer: CD PROJEKT RED
Publisher: CD PROJEKT RED
Review Platform: Xbox One
Release Date: October 12, 2015
It only took 30 minutes for me to fall right back in love with The Witcher 3. I sunk 110 hours into the main quest and every single side quest, afterwards I was a bit burnt out. However, after less than an hour in the addition to the world that Hearts of Stone brought to the game, I was back in the flow of everything great about Geralt of Rivia, Novigrad, and The Witcher 3.
Hearts of Stone, the first of two meaty expansions, is meant as a post-game quest-line. There are three options with which to tackle that expansion, which was an unexpected surprise. You can simply load a save, and play with whatever characters you might already have built up, play only the expansion with a pre-configured character, or start a game fresh with this set in the quest log from the start. It introduces new monsters, both to existing classes, and creating creepy new ones, new side quests, and an entire new set of lore. Geralt starts out accepting a quest to kill a monster in the sewers, which turns out to be quite a bit more than he bargained for. In the expansion, we learn about the Ofieri, a race of humans from a far off land, including many additions to the already-expansive lore of The Witcher. We also find new crafting gear from this proud people, which I found to actually be better than my Master Crafted Feline Armor. Overall, the expansion includes more of everything to love about the game, plus a little more. With the season pass only running 25 dollars, and a second expansion on the way, this is well worth the price of admission.
In my very first fight with one of the groups of the Knights of the Fallen Rose, something couldn’t help but catch my ear. When I heard it again I was sure. “What a lovely day!” wasn’t a coincidence, these guys were quoting Mad Max: Fury Road! It was a great surprise amongst everything that made the core gameplay great. The story behind Hearts of Stone, around 10 hours of content, plus another 5 or 6 of side content from what I found, is what I’ve come to expect of this great franchise. It includes very well done characters, mystery and intrigue, an incredibly entertaining heist sequence, and a few unexpected twists that kept me guessing until the very end. The story also includes a handful of diverse – and difficult – boss fights, each one requiring a different strategy. I found myself having more fun with each one. I was extremely excited to bust out the gwent deck against some new opponents, and was delighted to see new cards hitting the board. Finally, the addition of a new set of achievements was just the thing to help me experience some of the other changes that had been added since I finished it. Even if one of them is bugged at the moment (CD Projekt Red has been notified, and is working on a fix).
Overall, the expansion brings even more to love about The Witcher 3. Although at times there is some clipping, and I found the game rendering while I would be running in the middle of a city, it was still everything I loved about my original experience with the core game, and more. Between the fantastic quotes, the new monsters, innovative bosses, and the quality of the story that we’ve come to expect from this studio, this expansion is a must play for any Witcher fan. The new achievements are fantastic, although I found myself struggling with one in particular, but the satisfaction I found when completing it was through the roof. This DLC is one of the best expansions I’ve seen on the current generation, and if it is any indicator of the next expansion, is one of the best bangs for your buck that you can find.
You can see our experience with the first 45 minutes of The Hearts of Stone here!