Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Reviewed on: PS4
Developer: CD Projekt RED
Publisher: Megarom Interactive
Release Date: 13 October 2015
Price: R149/R349 – Special Edition
5 months after the release of the original Witcher 3: Wild Hun, the game has received a ton of patches and free DLC packs that have helped enhance everyone’s experience, but it was due time that we were to receive a chunky new dosage of the game. The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone is what we’ve been asking for – a solid 10 hours of added gameplay with new quests, monsters, gear, and laces to explore.
Before we get started
If you are worried about the state of your saved game, in case you have not yet completed the main game, never fear. There are different ways in which you can start the Hearts of Stone expansion pack. You can load into it using your character you have been playing with since day one, this is if Geralt has reached the recommended level of 32, and then starts the main quest by visiting a notice board at the Seven Cants Inn. You can also load into the game with a pre-made level 32 character that has been created just for the expansion pack. This is nice for players who have just picked up the game, and want to play through the expansion before anything else.
It is important to keep in mind that instead of travelling to a new land for this expansion, it rather extends the play area in Novigrad to the right, adds in new areas to explore, and a bunch of new things to do on the side. The expansion takes a while to get going though as the first few quests feel like something you have been doing for some time now, these are locating a missing Herbalist’s apprentice and a horse race. But do not let the start of the expansion deter you from believing that is what you should expect, because it kicks off soon after.
After a series of events, Geralt gets branded with a mark on his face, until he completes a series of quests and repays his debt to Vlodimir con Everec, the mark will stay. This is the start of the quests as Geralt comes face-to-face with some rather creepy enemies, locals, and some of the most memorable bosses in the game. That aside, each mission I undertook felt so refreshing, there are also new things to experience like planning a heist, bidding on rare items in an Auction House, and even a new lady to romance. But what is The Witcher without its combat, and in Hearts of Stone you are confronted with a series of new enemies and bosses that attack differently and have different weak spots, forcing you to rethink your approach.
The Runewright is brand new addition to the game that will replace your old runes in you gear with new Rune Words or Glyph Words. This new feature replaces any existing runes and glyphs that you have in your equipment with these new “Words”. This makes for a better impact than the standard glyphs and runes on your gear. They not only improve on signs, but they add new abilities to each sign that have different effects on your combat. It all makes you feel extremely powerful and at the same time gives you new ways to experiment in combat.
Putting the expansion aside, The Witcher 3 in general has received various patches to improve on the performance of the game and I really felt the boost. There are less bugs, next to zero frame rate drops, and overall it is one solid experience. I actually gave up playing the game due to these issues, and I can confidently say that there has never been a batter time to get into the game than now, even if it means you will have to download a few GB of updates to get to this point.
Back to the expansion. For its R149 asking price there is just no reason why you wouldn’t want to pick this up. It offers 10-12 hours of gameplay, but it’s more than just the duration of it that makes it wonderful, it’s the content like new bosses, the Runewright abilities, and the different approach to the quests. So many DLC offerings out there offer next to nothing but skins for your character and vehicle when the game has long been completed, this all for the same asking price. This is what makes The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone one of the best chunk of DLC to hit a game in ages.
The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone is available on the PlayStation Store, Xbox Live Marketplace, and Steam. You can also get the Special Edition Package that contains the DLC code along with two physical Gwent card decks.