This is it, the last story for the Witcher 3 games. Blood and Wine is a bittersweet farewell that gives you a last look at everything you loved about the games, in a brand new playground called Toussaint. The new region isn’t particularly massive, but big enough to take quite some time to fully explore and find all the new secrets and hidden treasures. Toussaint is, as Geralt loves to say, something straight out of a fairy tale. Full of knights in shining armor, a grand palace that can be seen from nearly any location on the map, and new monsters to fight that have some strange stories behind them.
Once you’ve entered Toussaint, one thing becomes abundantly clear, the people here are completely different from Velen, Novigrad, or even Skellige. The people here are far more welcoming and happy to see you than anywhere else in the game. Sure, sometimes random characters will say things and complain about the Butcher of Blaviken from time to time, but most of the important characters and quest-givers are thrilled to see you. It’s almost uncomfortable to see so many people being kind and welcoming to you. Of course, the ones that are rude are extremely hateful of anyone “below” them in social standing. Their rewards for you tend to suck anyway.
Throughout the new story Geralt makes a few new companions and runs into old ones from long before the events of the Wild Hunt campaign. To any not familiar with other parts of the Witcher series it may, at first, seem like just another friend in the world. But, as you continue on and talk to these people, you learn your history with them and how much they know about you. A very rude dwarf even reminds you that you were assumed dead at one point.
The Witcher 3 is a game of choices, and in those choices discovering that no situation has a simply right or wrong solution. Blood and Wine is no exception to the standard the base game set. If anything, it’s made those choices harder to discern between right and wrong. For instance, what does one do when a monster is killing humans traveling through its territory, but is also a protected last member of its species? And what do you do when it’s discovered that both parties involved in a spat have done terrible things? Like the region itself, everything is completely muddled beneath the surface and requires real thinking to decide what move to make.
Don’t expect any drastic changes in mechanics in Toussaint. Geralt still fights the same and uses the same signs and upgrades he’s been given. Only a few things have really changed. For one, horse races are different here. The races are purely against the clock with targets and objectives in the middle to up your time. However, in my copy of Blood and Wine I never was able to try these out due to a glitch that would freeze Geralt and Roach up so it was impossible to move at all. And after a certain point in the game it’s impossible to go back and try the quest all over again. However, the changes in racing sound incredibly fun so one day I will go back to check it out. This was the only downside to exploring Toussaint, random bugs here and there.
To put it simply, Blood and Wine is incredible. The massive amount of new areas to explore, new side activities, and collecting new gear adds even more to an already amazing game. Geralt can even get stronger by adding new abilities to make use of the massive amounts of ability points he’s accumulated, especially if you’re in New Game+ mode.
Personally, my favorite part of the expansion is Corvo Bianco, a vineyard that Geralt can call his home. Being a Witcher, Geralt usually just travels from place to place with no real home location to head to at the end of a day. Everything he’s collected usually just sits in his bag or in the stash. Corvo Bianco is a place to hang up his gear, favorite weapons, and assorted trophies. The home is upgradeable as well, so you can have more outfits up, a nicer looking bed, and a well made stable for Roach. Only the finest for the Witcher that’s saved the world, unbeknownst to everyone.
One thing that really strikes home with this expansion is the finality of it all. The story ends in a way that looks like there may be more for Geralt in the future. Depending on how you’ve played, he has plans after all the craziness in Toussaint. Whether you decide to go North and have a life with Triss, or continue on the path and keep killing monsters, his life will go one. But, for us, the players, the story has ended. In the quick year since the release of The Witcher 3, Geralt has been through countless hours of hunts, battles, and spectacular moments that constantly have you wondering what’s about to happen. But, every great story must eventually have its end, and sadly Blood and Wine is it. It’s nothing amazing, but incredibly satisfying to see it end. At the end of the day, Geralt has slain dozens of monsters, saved countless lives, and done many great things on the path. It’s time to hang up the swords Witcher, it’s been one of the best stories ever told.
Blood and Wine may be one of the finest expansions ever made for a video game. With more content than most current full games, and a massive amount of side activities, Geralt has no shortage of jobs to do. The only bad side to this expansion is that there’s not going to be anymore. It’s a perfect way to experience everything you enjoy about a great game, with a new story, more monsters, and a chance to learn more about the world of the Witcher games. This is an expansion you’ll want to play over and over; mostly due to multiple endings, but with simply how much there is to do it will be impossible to see everything without at least another look through. Nothing beats seeing your choices unfold in a brand new world, be it Toussaint or even a fantasy world within the game itself. And this world’s full of grey choices that help the story develop completely different every time. End your favorite game the way you want to and do this incredible game justice.