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The Witcher games, based loosely on the stories of  Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski,  are growing in momentum, with the first two in the series being amongst the most popular action adventure games of the past few years. The action falls between that of Tomb Raider and Assassin's Creed but is generally more violent and gory, just the sort of game that whets the interest of action-loving XBox and Playstation owners. The series is published in English by Atari and produced by Polish company CD Projekt Red.

Players take on the role of Geralt, a Witcher (Monster Slayer) in a medieval campaign style adventure. Unlike some similar adventure game series, Geralt of Rivia has remained as the hero throughout from game one. As the campaign has grown and the missions have become more dangerous and definitely more intriguing, Geralt's personality has changed in a way acceptable for all he has been through.

Some of the following I discovered via Wikipedia and the rest from reading through the book. I learned that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is more than 30 times larger than previous Witcher games. It has, in some ways, followed Assassin's Creed as it introduces many actions already tried in that series, such as sailing boats and horse riding. There are also quicker ways to travel, such as when horse riding you can hold down the sprint button which causes the horse to continue on the road without being directed. CD Projekt RED anticipates approximately 100 hours of gameplay from the beginning to completion as long as you are familiar and formidable with the controls.

The game features at least 50 main campaign missions and 50 side quests. While similar to previous games in the series Witcher III: Wild Hunt has improved several aspects particularly in combat Combat which now revolves around an action role-playing game system that includes the use of magic. There are new mechanics and abilities for Geralt, such as "witcher sense" which is the ability to sense nearby objectives, people and resources. Fighting while riding your horse or swimming and fighting are new skills as is swimming underwater and using a crossbow. 

As usual, Geralt can jump, climb, and vault over smaller obstacles in the manner of the latest Lara Croft, Uncharted or Assassin's Creed games and he can still cast spells,create items and brew potions but in a modified format from before. The Traps from The Witcher 2 have been entirely omitted. The same five Witcher signs have returned but slightly modified, with each one having an alternative form that can be used.

The game features day cycles, light and dark, that have influences over some monsters similar to those of the common myth for the werewolf during the full moon. Ghralt's beard grows naturally as he time passes. Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannion (aka Ciri) also becomes a playable character and is an exceptional sword fighter with mythical powers from the Witcher novels. Also new is an in-game collectible card game known as Gwent. which replaces the dice games from the previous two Witcher titles.Gwent and the associated quests are described from page 308 onwards.Yes page 308, and there are still 219 more pages.

This massive volume (527 pages if you haven't already added the 219 to the 308 previously mentioned) is as beautifully produced as any role-playiung game manual, and in fact it is quite possible (with some tweaking of course) that you could use a lot of the information provided in a fantasy rpg as background or by adding some stats the creatures would make some different and interesting adversaries - just another use of a superb book.

Players of The Witcher: Wild Hunt will probably know a lot of the above already because it is the third in the series and they are likely to have played the previous two games, but it is quite possible that within the pages of this mighty DK/PRIMA official strategy guide will be found at least one little secret that you didn't know. There is so much information within these 527 pages that it is highly unlikely that even by playing the game through to its end you will have discovered every possibility herein.

Apart from the aforementioned Bestiary (monsters) there are walkthroughs, in text and screenshots, for every quest, including secondary quests, Gwent quests and Treasure Hunts. Then you have all the maps, appendices and compendiums, which includes a chapter on Carnal Knowledge. Yes our hero has the sense to relieve his tension at times the good old-fashioned way; he visits beautiful women who are open to his suggestions. Believe it, this chapter points out where to find (and names) these exotic and passionate women. Some are available only in quests and others only at specific times. Most of them aren't easy women, they require a degree of wooing before the romantic evening can occur, though of course Crippled Kates in Novigrad does have a selection of pay-as-you-go girls (aka strumpets). No, this volume doesn't give you a blow by blow account of how to do it. However, some of these sex quests are highly amusing from their beginning, throughout the action and as they develop - you either have to do them to enjoy them or read them (as I have) in this excellent tome.

Also provided with the hard cover version is a small book in a brown leather-feel cover with a mystical symbol on the front.This book is A Fractured Land: Tales of the Northern Realms by Marcus T.K. Hoogson. This book details the Witches, Sorceresses, the Islanders of Skellige, Elves and so on. It is printed on glossy, parchment looking paper with coloured photo-style screenshots, line art and text in various colours and styles. This is a great read and well worth spending out the extra to get the hard cover version over the soft cover edition.

I truly am a fan of the Dorling Kindersley/Prima guide and strategy books, even if, like The Witcher III, I don't have the game to play I still find the books extremely interesting. I am suggesting that many of the guide books from DK/Prima are worth looking at for more reasons than just to help you through the associated games.









© Chris Baylis 2011-2015