This expansion for the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt most likely tells Geralt’s last great endeavor, and is a fitting farewell to the White Wolf himself. Blood and Wine is being called an expansion by the developers over at CD Projekt RED, but it brings more content with it than most other AAA single player games. The main quest can be completed in about 10 hours if you refuse to deviate at all, and there is no shortage of side objectives, Witcher contracts, and treasure hunts to sink your teeth into as well. At the time of writing this I have about 20 hours sunk into the game and still have plenty to do. Blood and Wine shifts Geralt’s focus from the bleak war-torn landscapes of Velen and Skellige, and onto the gorgeous region of Toussaint. You may find yourself shocked that any given stroll over any given hilltop will probably reveal a beautiful landscape of rolling hills dotted with vineyards and swaying trees.
The people of Toussaint are as unique as the environment. Without the constant threat of war or relentless approach of monsters and bandits they are more willing to “let loose”, so to speak. Everywhere you look there is some sort of festivity with barrels of fine wine and beautiful people about. Although if you had been paying any attention to the flow of information prior to launch then you know that this time of peace and overindulgence that the people of Toussaint have been experiencing doesn’t last for long. On the surface, Blood and Wine is about vampires, focusing on one in particular that is stirring up a lot of trouble for the city of Toussaint and its knights. The one main complaint I have about this piece of DLC is that very few times within the storyline do we ever have any interesting interactions with him. There are few moments with this main antagonist where he really gets the spotlight, but most of the time he is taking a back seat, letting supporting characters tell his story and his motivations. This seems out of place in The Witcher in particular because of how fully formed and well rounded the rest of the cast is.
Along with the cast of new NPCs, there are also a slew of new monsters to hunt down and fight. Large centipede-type monsters and an eight foot tall stone creature that rolls around like a pillbug are among some of the most memorable. With these new creatures brings new ways of dealing with them. At times, especially on harder difficulties, I felt the need to look up whatever I was fighting within the in-game bestiary to learn the most efficient way to take them out.
The quality of the rest of the story however is superb; even the smallest of side quests managed to give me something interesting to latch onto. Very rarely did I ever complete an objective and feel like it was a waste of time. What seems to be a common occurrence in the main game, and definitely not absent in Blood and Wine, is that there is never a clear right or wrong answer. Only in the rarest of occasions do your plans ever happen exactly as you envisioned them. However, they never stray too far from the believable, they never make a leap within the story that feels out of place or straight up impossible. It managed to keep me on my toes. At any moment some decision I though was right at the time could come back at me. I often found myself with a constant nervousness as I tried to convince myself that everything would work out, that nothing bad will happen to me or these characters helping me, that by the end of this expansion I would be able to look back and be content with what had transpired and not be left with a long string of memories forever entangled with my own overwhelming guilt. Even after all of that I still greatly enjoyed my time with the game.