After a brief flirtation with The Witcher 2 (which I got at a very good price thanks to a sale on GOG.com) I can now re-immerse myself in the world of The Witcher 3, thanks to the arrival of the latest expansion titled ‘Blood and Wine’. I’ve only played a couple of hours so far, but here’s my early impressions of some of the overhauls to the game that CD Projeckt Red have come up with.
A whole new land to explore
Blood and Wine brings Geralt to Toussaint, a whole new game zone to explore in the matter of Novigrad and Skellige. From pictures I’ve seen online it looks to be around the same size as No Man’s Land in Velen, but a lot more densly populated. The parts I’ve explored so far have also been a lot greener!
User interface improvements
There are a large number of UI improvements in Patch 1.21 , here are some of the most noticeable and much welcomed!
The inventory system has been given some much needed TLC, and there are numerous changes here. The most obvious at first glace is the new way items are organised, as there are now many more categories which makes it easier to find what you’re looking for. The tooltips have also been improved, and you can even make the font larger if you’re struggling to read them at the moment.
Books are another area that’s been given some attention, and you now no longer need to keep them in your inventory (hurrah)! Once you’ve read a book it goes into a special books panel which lists every book you’ve read in the game so far, and you can them dump or sell the original to regain inventory space and possibly some cash. There’s also a new book added to the game called ‘A Miraculous Guide to Gwent’ which helps you track how many Gwent cards you’re missing!
The quest log has has some tweaks, the most obvious is the fact that quests from the base game and the expansions have different icons next to them so you can quickly differentiate between them.
The full list of improvements taken from the 1.21 changelog is below.
Well, firstly I’m very glad to be able to experience new content in this game! The Witcher 3 was the first in the series that I’d played, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I can’t say I really noticed many of the UI issues that have been ‘Fixed’ in the update but now they’re there I think I’d struggle to go back to an older version. I think overall they do add a bit of extra polish to what was already a great game.
As for the quests themselves, as I’ve only played for a short while I don’t really have much to say, but from what I’ve played so far I Can tell it’s definately not going to be a ‘more of the same’ expansion, and other reviews have mentioned that there’s quite a bit of humour involved. I can’t wait to explore Toussaint and report back in a future podcast to how I found the whole experience.
It’s a thumbs up from me!
Full list of improvements:
- Adds book titled ‘A Miraculous Guide to Gwent’ which displays number of gwent cards missing from player’s base-game collection and information on where to find them, thus facilitating completion of achievement titled Collect ‘Em All. Tome in question can be obtained either from gwent playing scholar in Prologue or from merchant near St. Gregory’s Bridge in Gildorf district of Novigrad.
- Adds option to display herb names above available interactions.
- Adds option in Options/Gameplay to enable enemy level upscaling. If foes are too easy to defeat due to level difference, upscaling will render them a challenge. Change will not affect experience point gain, loot, or quest rewards. Option can be enabled or disabled at any time, even during combat (however, Vitality/Essence of foes is then fully restored).
- Adds option in Options/Gameplay to disable automatic drawing and sheathing of sword.
- Increases incidence of, and thus chances of finding, several monster-based ingredients required for crafting high level alchemy formulae.
- Improves Player Statistics panel, adding maneuverable Geralt model. Improves visuals in panel for better readability.
- Adds new functionality to books and scrolls. When first collected, they can be read immediately using single button without need of navigating to Inventory panel. All found but not yet read books and scrolls are stored in Quest Items and Other categories. Once read, books and scrolls can be sold as their content is saved in Books section of Glossary.
- Improves overall visuals in Character Development panel.
- Improves Inventory whereby items are divided into additional subcategories within their grids: weapons and armor; oils, potions and bombs; quest items and others; food and equestrian gear; crafting and alchemy. Additionally, introduces redesign of tooltips enabling their resizing with single button. Also, item comparison is easier than ever given addition of summary of changes in stats.
- Improves Inventory navigation when using gamepad. Slots are divided into sections and right stick can be used to jump between them.
- Improves Crafting panel in merchant shops. Adds option to purchase missing diagram components directly from Crafting panel when talking to merchant, as well as clearer descriptions and option to resize item descriptions.
- Introduces redesign of Repair panel in merchant shops. Adds single button enabling players to repair all equipped items.
- Improves Remove Upgrade panel in merchant shops.
- Improves Quick Access Menu whereby it can be accessed in one of two modes, with action either paused or slowed depending on button used.
- Adds functionality whereby crossbow bolts can be switched via Quick Access Menu rather than being equipped from Inventory.
- Adds counter for bombs and crossbow bolts to Quick Access Menu.
- Improves region maps by adding pin filtering, more intuitive quest tracking, and a region overview for faster navigation.
- Adds three new custom pins allowing players to mark areas for future reference.
- Improves Adrenaline Bar which better displays number of stored Adrenaline Points and their status.
- Improves display and behavior of Buffs, displayed in more intuitive manner showing time left, strength percentage, stacks, charges, or permanence where applicable. Buff icons now blink for approx. 10 seconds before expiration. For improved visibility, names and exact expiration times for all effects are only visible when Quick Access menu is active.
- Changes icons for decoctions, rendering them recognizable at first glance.
- Changes icons for oils, rendering them recognizable at first glance.
- Changes gwent card icons in shops, rendering factions recognizable at first glance.
- Changes icons for mutagens.
- Adds feature whereby equipment exceeding player character level can be previewed on character.
- Improves sorting in Journal whereby active quest tab is always open and tracked quest is at top of quest list.
- Improves quest item visuals so that Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine quest items are now tagged with blue and red exclamation points, respectively.