My 2016 GOTY.

The Witcher 3 & its expansions, mostly Blood & Wine.

Fun fact, I helped on the PR Campaign of the game during my time at BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe.

At first, when the game was out in May 2015, I didn’t want to play it for various reasons:

  1. playing D3/LoL was taking most of my free time
  2. I didn’t like The Witcher 2
  3. I also tend to not play games I worked on during my private time, but I do it at the office to understand the games and their +/-

The first reason was easy to get rid of, but I obviously didn’t do it, eh. The second reason was non-sensical as The Witcher 3 was superior to its predecessor in every single aspect. In all honesty, the last reason was the biggest one. When you work massive hours, you want to go home and relax… Which means playing games that you worked on/played at the office reminds you of work and all the things you have to deal with. Sorry to break the news: gaming industry’s jobs have their bad sides too. A game doesn’t arrive magically to the consumers’ hands without the blood, sweat and hairs of lot of people (mostly devs, though). But as Mark Manson puts it, those “are good problems”, not bad, mean problems.

Started the game in June 2015 and stopped after 2 or 3 hours….

…Fast forward to July 2016, I moved to Hamburg for my new job and I bought several games before moving: Super Mario Maker, Bayonetta 2, Fire Emblem Fates (Note: To this day, Mario Maker and Bayonetta 2 are still unopened. Thats how you manage your time and money, kids. #alternativefact). I had more time and wasn’t working for the same company, meaning problem 3 is solved. I had no PC in my Airbnb, meaning no 1 was solved. Welp, guess i’ll give it a try again right… Oh boy, I wasn’t disappointed. I mean, look at this beauty:

I have one word to describe this game: masterpiece masterpiece. (That’s two words? That doesn’t make sense? It’s my blog). Let’s do it à-la Print magazines from the 90s:

  • Graphics: The original game was brilliant on this area: from the landscapes in Skellige, the massive city of Novigrad to the way Velen is made. But Toussaint… My jaw dropped.  Simple as that: I had to pause the game and take a moment to understand what the hell was going on. I started texting (read: spamming) my brother -who at that time didn’t play the game. All of this was on PS4, can’t even start to think about PC Master Race quality…
  • Gameplay: The worst part of the game, probably… By worst, I mean its a 9/10. Sometimes Geralt acted funny around corners and when on stairs, but who doesn’t IRL anyway.
  • Sounds & Voices: I have played the game with UK VO. The voice acting was goddamn stellar. Doug Cockle playing Geralt “is lit” as youngsters on that cyberthing called Snap would say. Sounds of fights, beasts, cities etc. were perfectly crafted too. You get immersed quite nicely thanks to that.
  • Soundtrack: To this day, i’m still listening to the OST on a daily basis (see my fav ones below). The choice of songs was perfect. Also, working with local artists made it even better. Wanted to add a note for Wolven Storm aka Priscilla’s Song: this one hit me like an elephant in a tiny fish barrel (if that makes sense). I was caught off-guard, completely. Felt so good yet sad after listening to it. Yet, today, I still listen to it and it has the same effect on me. Funny thing: even in other languages -I don’t remotely speak or understand: the song is perfect.
  • Storyline: TW3 story is amazing. Period. It is told in a perfect, engaging and thrilling way. Despite the fact that I didn’t play previous games or read the books, the storyline/flashbacks/discussions with other characters made sense. This pushed me to read more about the mythology of The Witcher’s universe (Note to myself: start to read the books). Plus, it revolves around the best character from the game: Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon aka Ciri or the Lion Cub of Cintra (thanks to my sponsor Wikia for this, and to Dad/Mum for making me in the summer ’86)
  • Characters: From Geralt/Yennefer (aka the Tsundere couple) to Ciri (aka Waifu) to Keira Metz (aka the characterIkillednotonpurposebecauseI’mretarded). Every single character is deep, well crafted and has an engaging story. Hell, I even liked Dandelion!

You can listen to my favourite songs from the game here:

After playing the game for 80 hours (that’s a rush, given the plethora of content this game offers), I finished the game and and both expansions. I was in awe, during my whole journey. I kept  bugging my older brother to play the game and try it. He finally gave in December as he had to undergo a surgery and stay at home. 3 weeks ago, he finished the game (and extensions) after 170h at 99% (small bugs/mistakes prevented him from finishing 4 quests). Both of us suffered from the very well-known “Post Amazing Game Depression Syndrome”: no game is up there with TW3, no game is enthralling enough, no game is funny enough, no game is beautiful enough. On my side I went ahead and finished Ori and the Blind Forest (will probably write an article about it), Assassins’ Creed Unity (yeah, bit of a slowpoke here) and also Shovel Knight (will definitely write an article about it, for several reasons). On his side… He started a new run on Sunday.

While I worked a bit on the game,  I was lucky enough to avoid spoilers (Hi other guys who worked on it and didn’t have this privilege). But I have worked enough to see the sweat, the passion and love that CD Projekt Red have put in it. It was truly a wonderful thing to watch it unfold. From QA, to Marketing/PR/Community, to Devs, to Sales to the ladies at the reception desk: CDPR have a truly talented and full of passion team. When you go to their office, you can see how proud they are of their work: and they should. On top of being talented, they are genuinely kind and help people around them.

From a pure PR perspective, the game communication campaign was masterfully done. Just the right amount of assets, right timings to show footage, perfect Studio Tours/Preview Events. The Post-Mortem on it still serves me today. Having worked with them taught me a lot about my job and how to push myself.

TLDR: TW3 is amazing, play it. Probably my favourite 3D game ever.

One thought on “My 2016 GOTY.

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