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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an incredible game with some serious scope. Some players, myself included, managed to rack up more than 100 hours on just a single playthrough of the base game alone.
Now, we’ve been given the first of two currently planned expansions, Hearts of Stone.
Developers CD Projekt RED made a generous promise to their fans, stating that the two expansions would total more play time than the second instalment of the Witcher series, Assassins of Kings. And so far they seem to be on target with Hearts of Stone averaging between 15 to 20 hours at a leisurely pace.
The story remains Geralt centric and focuses on his interactions with Gaunter O’Dimm, a mysterious and nefarious man known by many names; and Olgierd von Everec, an immortal nobleman turned bandit with the face of David Beckham.
Geralt is pulled into a pact with only one way out; to complete a series of seemingly impossible tasks for the bandit which make for some incredibly fun adventures. Without wishing to give anything away I’d like to give a special mention of the quests “Dead Man’s Party” and “The Painted World,” which I personally think may be two of the greatest quests in the entire game.
As is a staple of the Witcher series, Hearts of Stone introduces a myriad of unique and memorable characters and even brings back an old favourite.
Aside from the core story, the expansion also adds a number of side quests and new NPCs, even introducing a new craftsman, the Runewright, who can further improve your weapons and armour.
All in all, Hearts of Stone does not disappoint. The whole experience is as enjoyable, well paced and immersive as we’ve come to expect from the series; and can be played at any point during the main game’s campaign after completing the prologue. This makes it incredibly accessible to new players, with no need to play tens of hours before being able to dive in.
My only regret with having played through the expansion so quickly is that I now have to wait until April for the next piece, Blood and Wine. But what does make the wait worthwhile is that CD Projekt RED have promised that their second expansion will be around twice the length the first.