First Time Playing Witcher 3 – Tips To Know, Mistakes To Avoid
For many folks, their first time hearing about Witchers and Nilfgaard wasn’t The Witcher on Netflix nor the source books by Andrzej Sapkowski. No, to many people this saga was one that played out across three video games by CD Projekt RED. I am something of a completionist, so I wanted to play all of the games. Yet, because of varied gameplay, inconsistent controller support, and the general consensus of players, you can actually skip The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. So, for my first time playing the games, I went with Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, and here are some tips you should know and mistakes you should avoid when starting this game.
Of course, there is an argument to be made that going in cold to your first time playing The Witcher 3 is not a bad idea. It can all be a bit overwhelming at first, But by the time you finish the introductory area, a little village called White Orchard, you should have figured out most of the mechanics. This is a game that is designed to be played through over and over again. The map is so expansive that, at first, it may even feel like a slog to find all the quests (both marked and unmarked). So, the first tip anyone needs before playing The Witcher 3 for the first time is that there is no right or wrong way to play it. You’re probably going to make mistakes or want to do things differently. This is by design.
Still, there are ways that you can have more fun the first time around, and that’s what these tips, tricks, and mistakes to avoid are meant to lay out for ye.
Take It Slow the First Time Playing The Witcher 3, There Is a Lot of Ground to Cover (Literally)
Image via CD Projekt RED
I went into my first time playing Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt without knowing really anything about the gameplay or story. There are many references to games past. There’s even a scene where the player can answer questions to determine which consequential decisions Geralt made in the previous games without having to play them. Unlike some complaints about Mass Effect 3, the choices in The Witcher 3, really matter. You can do a contract for a monster, make a decision, and return to a village to find it decimated for some reason or another.
There are two ways to deal with this. First, especially if it is your first time playing The Witcher 3, save often. The game will auto-save during certain quests, so if you die or fail you can just pull up one of those auto-saves. Yet, whenever you have a random encounter or discover a new fast-travel marker, save it. Also, it’s a matter of good practice to save right before facing a big enemy or having an important conversation via cut-scene. Yet, micromanaging the playthrough like that makes this feel more like a job or quiz than an RPG. Second, you can either accept what happened or start a new playthrough.
Like most RPGs this game feels massive, at least until you explore and realize it’s not that big. My first impression of the White Orchard area was that it was huge. But when I started a new playthrough to set up a game where Geralt makes different decisions, I was stunned that I was able to complete that area in just a couple of hours. (And that’s with, literally, picking flowers for a while.) In this game the end matters, but it’s not what you should concern yourself with at first.
Don’t Obsess About Finishing All the Quests or If They’re Level-Appropriate
Image via CD Projekt RED
There are three dozen different endings for this game. Characters can end up ruling nations or dead and/or in jail. Since this is likely the last Witcher game we’ll get (CD Projekt Red has its hands full with Cyberpunk 2077), it’s meant to be played through over and over again. You can do the story quests almost exclusively (along with the Witcher armor treasure hunts for the best gear). Complete the story and, you can finish up all those random encounters. The enemies may be less challenging, but still worth it.
When playing The Witcher 3 for the first time, it’s best to realize that you are not playing it for the last time. If you miss stuff or make the wrong call, there’s always the next playthrough. One downside for explorers is that often you will run into markers or surprise enemies that are well above your level. The only option is to run or die. If you are geared up well and have high levels of oils and potions, you can face higher level enemies. (For me, anything six levels above me or lower was killable, YMMV).
Still, it is a little annoying to ride out to a mysterious marker only to find a beast 15 levels above you ready to insta-kill Geralt. There are moments in the game where you can fail one quest by completing another. In that case, go back to a previous auto-save, go finish the other quest, and then pick up where you left off. When you have a grayed-out quest, this means you are too high a level for it. Yet, you will still get monster trophies, ingredients for potions and oils, and (most importantly) they are still fun.
Playing Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt Is Still Rewarding in 2022
Image via screenshot
Despite all the drama CD Projekt Red has with Cyberpunk 2077, the Witcher games still remain an unquestionable triumph. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is especially so, because playing it for the first time in 2022, it did not feel like a seven-year-old game. The world is open and massive, and you can get lost riding around the countryside for hours. The side-quests and secondary quests are fun, and often feature humorous moments. The story itself is sufficiently intense, even if you don’t know who half of the characters are that they talk about. (Also, I now know why that one lady at the end of The Witcher Season 2 was such a big deal.)
Playing The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt for the first time was a little daunting and not without frustrations. But those frustrations are typical of the RPG experience: forgetting to save, getting lost or stuck, and missing quests. Yet, more so than other RPGs even, the desire to play the game again and see what’s different is strong. And unlike many RPGs, playing it through making different choices will give you a different experience.
It definitely helps that I purchased The Witcher 3: The Complete Edition. I am not sure if has graphics upgrades, but it looks amazing on my gaming PC. It comes with the base game and the two DLC expansions: Blood and Wine and Hearts of Stone. There is also reportedly a next-gen Witcher 3 port coming in mid-2022 with new DLC, though likely only cosmetic armors and weapons inspired by the Netflix series. Still, don’t wait for that. Start playing The Witcher 3 right away, whether it’s your first time or if you’ve just been gone from the game for a while.
The Witcher 3: The Complete Edition is available wherever you buy games.
What do you think? What was your experience playing The Witcher 3 for the first time? Tell us your favorite and least-favorite parts of the game. Tell us your thoughts, theories, and any of your own tips and tricks in the comments below.
Featured image via screenshot.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book of superhero short stories, Tales of Adventure & Fantasy: Book One is available as an ebook or paperback from Amazon.