In the brightly colored, eccentric region of Toussaint, we are treated to one last adventure with the White Wolf himself. Though some what different when compared to the base game, Blood and Wine feels like a fitting end for Geralt. As a fan of the Witcher series, including the books, CD Projekt Red delivered on a fantastic new expansion for the game.
In the base game, we spent most of our time in war torn Velen, Novigrad, and Skellige. These places were dark and many times, depressing areas. That is all the more reason that Toussaint is embraced with open arms. It is a direct contrast to the usual, offering a bright and thriving region, especially the city of Beauclair. Considering Toussaint is also based off of southern France and Italy, the art style of the region is definitely eye catching.
With the new region comes new monsters as well, a majority of which are many different types of vampires, a major focus of Blood and Wine. Some of these new monsters have even more of an emphasis on the dodge and counter tactics we have come to know, like the stone shaelmaars, or the creepy bruxae. However, the combat in general is basically untouched, other than the new mutagen system. This new system allows for the research of stronger mutagens, which allow for some borderline overpowered abilities, like instant finishers when parrying someone with 25 percent of their health. Plus, for every two mutagens that Geralt researches, he obtains a new ability slot. Though as fun as the combat is, and as big as the new region is, the best aspect of the new expansion isn’t in the gameplay.
The best part of Blood and Wine lies in it’s story telling and characters. Together the two create a narrative worthy of a full game in itself. Everyone from the return of an old friend, to the beast of Beauclair, and of course the Dutchess, Anna Henrietta. Every step of the way, I was lured in to the enticing main story. The twists would catch me off guard, and I couldn’t help but to find out what happens next. Even the end, when I believed the story to be over, threw a curve ball and I was left in awe. The main story was also written in a great way, really highlighting how Geralt sees his future. We get to see that he really isn’t sure of himself, in that he doesn’t truly know if he belongs on the path or not. Though, by the end, Geralt is left in a truly fitting place, or the best the old Witcher could ask for.
Along with the main story is, of course, many side quests. This was yet another great addition from the expansion. The new side quests offered more than just combat, and some genuinely got a laugh out of me. For example, the quest in the bank. You spend your whole time in a bank trying to get access to your account, but they give Geralt a really hard time, like any other bank. He comes up with ideas like giving flowers to workers and fighting dwarves. Or the six new quests allowing you to search for Grand Master Witcher armor. This and a few others brought more variety to the quests, though most involve combat, which I enjoy.
The only real problems I had with the expansion were performance based problems. As I played on PS4, I had a few major FPS drops, and the worst of all was the loading screens. On the final boss in particular, which was actually very cool, he had a move that would one shot me. Every time I died, I had to wait almost 5 minutes to restart the cut scenes, and then try the fight again. It was extremely frustrating, and one reason I would recommend just playing on PC if you can.
Other than some performance issues, Blood and Wine is a fantastic new addition to The Witcher 3. With its huge new area, a plethora of things to do, and a great story, there aren’t many expansions I can think of that can really top this. Blood and Wine leaves both the player and Geralt in one of the best endings to a series, that we could ask for.