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Review: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Hearts of Stone

CD Projekt Red created one of the best games of the year; The Witcher 3 was a huge success. Fans all over the world loved the new open world story of Geralt of Rivia and couldn’t wait for more content. The first big expansion DLC ‘Hearts of Stone’ delivers just that. It’s more of the same but more of The Witcher 3 can’t be bad right?

A new start

Hearts of Stone isn’t a standalone DLC pack, you need to own the original Witcher 3 game but you’re not forced to continue your story where you left it the last time. Hearts of Stone doesn’t follow the events of Wild Hunt but comes with a different story, set in the same universe. Since it doesn’t go further after Wild Hunt, you’re able to play it as an entirely new game. If you do so, all main Wild Hunt quests will be disabled and you’ll get a computer created a level 30ish Geralt with great gear.

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This is a great option for those who haven’t completed the Wild Hunt but want to see a new storyline. For the die-hard fans, it’s possible to transfer your existing Geralt to Hearts of Stone. All your gear, abilities and weapons will be transferred without a problem. Just make sure you’re level 30 or up since the monster you’ll face are hard to beat!

Time for another story

As said before, the story of Hearts of Stone is entirely new and it’s an intriguing story for sure. It starts rather straightforward. The Witcher accepts a contract to kill a monster that’s living in the sewer. The monster slayed a lot of innocent men and it’s time to put the suffering to an end. As an experience Witcher, Geralt didn’t have a lot of problems to kill the beast. The problem? The beast appeared to be a prince.

To answer for his deeds, Geralt got captured on a ship on his way to a ‘fair’ trial. Lucky for him, a mysterious character managed to assist Geralt in escaping from the ship. The only thing Geralt needs to do, is fulfill a special task for the mysterious man. We won’t spoil the story for you but the story eventually leads back to Olgier von Everic. Olgier is the person that gave you the task to kill the prince and in the end you’re tied to his desires until you manage to clear your objectives. Olgier is a very cold and brutal man. He has a heart of stone and you don’t want to mess with him.

 

More Witcher is always good!

 

The interaction and tension between the Witcher and Olgier is pure brilliance and leads to one of the best stories in the franchise yet. Hearts of Stone also manage to tie up some loose ends like bringing back Shani, the gorgeous doctor who appeared in the first Witcher.

The story is filled with great dialogues and cut scenes. It’s really worth investing your time in the story. You’ll see a less serious side of Geralt as well if you go on some of the side-quests. Hearts of Stone offers a great new look at Geralt as a character and dares to break with his dark and serious character. It’s good to see the famous Witcher form another point of view.

A lot of new quests 

The story isn’t the only thing that’s new of course. Hearts of Stone unlocks a great amount of new quests. Besides the main missions, you’ll find a lot of points of interest and side-quests East from Novigrad. This area was kept plain and boring in Wild Hunt but got a huge transformation in Hearts of Stone. The lands East of Novigrad are filled with interesting missions and epic loot to collect. It’s impressive to see that CD Projekt RED managed to create such interesting stuff in an area everybody thought was the worst in the original game.

The main missions are fun to play and offer a lot of familiar Witcher gameplay. This means you’ll need to collect a lot of different objects in order to advance. The combat has remained the same, meaning you’ll need to use your two swords and magic in order to stay alive. The combat is still as strong as before so we were really glad we got some new missions to mess around with.

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Don’t forget to check out the side-quests or monster dens from time to time. Both can result in great new gear or fun cut scenes. The side-quests are kept light and offer a lot of variation on the more serious main missions. It take you up to ten hours to clear the content of Hearts of Stone but you’ll enjoy every second of it.

More Gwent and Runewords 

So there’s a great new story, a lot of interesting new missions and more combat. But is there something entirely new? Yes, Runewords. Runewords are a new way of combining magic. By combining certain runes, you’ll create new, so-called Runewords. These offer interesting advantages such as a faster regenerating health bar or protection against arrows. There’s a total of nine Runewords, each with another advantage. A new NPC was created so you can try and experiment with these Runewords to see which one works best for you. These new magic tricks change the combat a little and make it a lot more interesting.

Aside of the Runewords there are fifteen Glyphwords, good for more advantages. This crafting of runes is only possible if you find the new craftsman called ‘The Runewright’. Be sure to find him once you started your new adventure!

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Besides new runes, the Gwent cards also make a return. This in-game card game was so popular a lot of Witcher players started playing it in real life as well. Those fans will be pleased to learn that ten new Gwent cards were added to the game. Time to collect them all! You can check out what the cards do against a lot of new Gwent players in Hearts of Stone. Since the expansion released after the big patch, it’s also possible to change the difficulty of your Gwent sessions in the game.

Conclusion:

The Witcher: Hearts of Stone delivers a lot of great new Witcher content. Sure, it offers more of the same; but more Witcher is never bad! The new story is very interesting and brings back some familiar faces. The new missions feel fresh and you’ll want to continue playing until the very end of the expansion. The story is told using great dialogues and cut scenes. Aside of the story you can go nuts in the side-missions, rune crafting or Gwent playing. Hearts of Stone is a very impressive expansion pack, we can’t wait to play more Witcher content soon!

9/10

Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.