After the success of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, CD Projekt RED has been thrust into the AAA spotlight after spending years refining their skills through The Witcher and The Witcher 2. The Witcher 3 was hailed as one of the best open world games ever made, touting a huge map size and offering one of the strongest roleplaying experiences around. After the game’s release, the Polish studio committed to releasing two large expansions; Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine.
Hearts of Stone released to great critical acclaim, featuring a tight standalone story of a nobleman making a Faustian pact with a man named Gaunter O’Dimm. Without veering into spoiler territory, O’Dimm is an incredibly effective villain that still plays into the idea of The Witcher series retelling classic tales with their own unique twist.
Following Hearts of Stone is Blood and Wine, a significantly larger expansion that adds an entire new continent to the game. Blood and Wine will take you around 30 hours to finish and adds a whole new questlines and a new region to explore. Toussaint is based off of Southern France, peppered with vineyards, classical medieval chivalry and more, it’s a far cry from the harsh wastes of Velen and Skellige. You soon become a virtual tourist in the idyllic and peaceful land of Toussaint.
Beneath the quaint veneer of peace, however lies a dark secret involving vampires, family betrayal and fairytale castles. The way that Blood & Wine treats its characters is also painted with the brush of black and white, a significant step back from the mortal dalliance of careful dialogue choices and shades of grey in Hearts of Stone. This all wraps around the idea that Blood & Wine is Geralt’s last hurrah, the final story we get to play as The Witcher. It makes sense for CDPR to want a grand ending to serve as some finality and denouement for the game, but I feel as if it could have been more effective by sticking to its guns and not resulting in a strange tonal shift near the final moments of the expansion.
Blood & Wine mirrors Mass Effect 3’s Citadel DLC, with a much more lighthearted tone and offers players much more fanservice, it’s a great send-off for Geralt’s adventures, but somewhat betrays the tone of the game that came before it. It’s one of the most substantial expansions for a single player game we’ve ever seen, and is well worth your time.