So I finally have my upgraded computer up and running, and after finishing off Deus Ex I decided to plunge back into the warm, enveloping waters of The Witcher 3. I've been Blood & Wining non-stop for the past couple of days and I'm absolutely loving it. At this point, The Witcher 3 has more than earnt its place alongside the other great '3's of the video gaming world: Metal Gear Solid 3, GTA III and Devil May Cry 3. This game just keeps on giving. If CDPR kept making Witcher 3 expansions I would keep buying them, because I can't get enough.
Toussaint is just such a wonderful place. The more time I spend here the more I like it. It's totally distinct from anywhere in the main game, with that peculiar accent and all the hilariously juvenile insults the people throw about. It has this lovely feel of a lighthearted fairy tale land, where a Witcher's work is still never done, but it's not quite so harsh a place as the Northern Kingdoms. It feels like CDPR's quest writers have just been trying out all the oddball pitches that didn't make it into the main game, so I'm constantly getting blindsided. There I am, thinking I'm going to do the same old fistfighting quest from the main game all over again, except one of the fighters fancies himself so quick that he only wants to see if I can parry his blows three times. One of them is a masked fighter, who reveals herself to be *dun dun dunnnn* a woman, only to be slightly disappointed when Good Guy Geralt treats her with respect rather than crying foul. The third comes out insulting me in verse and doesn't seem particularly interested in throwing the first punch, and when I reply in kind he's so impressed by Geralt's hot rhymes that he declares me the winner without so much as a swing. Then I meet the champion of Toussaint and find that he'll only fight me drunk
And it's just so cleverly put together. When I first reached Beauclair I wasn't quite as taken with it as I had been with Novigrad, but then I got the Gwent Tournament quest that takes you all over the city, into all the stores and watering holes, acting as a nice little self-guided tour punctuated with glorious Gwent. I think the Skellige deck is pretty interesting, especially with the Leader ability that recycles cards from your graveyard back into your deck. They don't go back into your hand, so I didn't get why it was useful at first, but then I realised it's for the Muster cards. You play one of those and it summons all its friends, but it will only summon them from your deck, not your graveyard. That new Leader ability lets you play a full set of Muster cards in two different rounds, which is neato. It's nowhere near as dominant as my usual Nilfgaard Spy routine, but it's a nice change of pace.
I loved the whole Tournament questline. It isn't even part of the main story; I didn't even know what I was getting into until I was into it. The tournament itself was a nice chance to do a bit of horsing about, giggling at all the tropes of a big posh medieval to-do and winning myself some nice new armour and toys that I'll never use (and I wonder what that giant Sir Gregoire of Mt Gorgon could be a reference to...). But then in between rounds it turns into a classic Witcher short story, with Geralt uncovering and attempting to deal with a bizarre curse that's stricken a fair maiden, while keeping a lusty knight who's read too many stories at bay.
And speaking of those new toys, while I might not use them in combat because I'm a Witcher gear man, thanks to Corvo Bianco's main man Barnabas-Basil Foulty (I geddit, CDPR ) I'm going to have a whole room dedicated to the sweet armour and swords I've picked up over my 160ish hours of Witchering. I'm halfway through restoring Corvo Bianco now, and I love decorating my lovely little housey. Pictures all over the walls, the whole place bristling with swords, a statue of that bloke with the blessed stones out the front, and a hard-won Gwent Tournament statue up in the master bedroom to match the portrait of a young Princess Cirilla Fiona Elen Rhiannon.
Also, I'm really glad I managed to avoid any spoilers until now, because I was so delighted to see a certain old friend show up: