Witcher 3: the Wild Hunt - Hearts of Stone - Deep Look

Who Wants to Live Forever?
by Scott Wachter

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Hearts of Stone
Platform: PC
Developer: CD Project RED
Publisher: CD Project RED
Release Date: 10.13.2015
"Hearts of Stone, in the grander scheme, is more of The Witcher 3..."
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   Geralt of Rivia takes a contract for the Frog Prince, gets abducted by his vassals, deals with a demonic djinn to get out and then finds himself doing favours for an immortal's dead family. It's just another day as a witcher.

   Hearts of Stone is a map expanding, post-game expansion for the The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt which , adds new monsters to encounter, a long-weekend’s worth of main storyline, and a few side quests for players to wander their way through.

   Geralt's newest adventure adds to the territory north-west of Novigrad, which can be an awkward disconnect for those players picking up existing playthroughs. After slaying the Frog Prince, who is a huge toxic monster so don't feel to bad, Geralt is captured by his loyal vassals, only to be forced into trading a favours with a man presenting himself as a wizard in order to escape. This mage, Guanter O'Dimm as he calls himself, then trades the favour for oneto a favour he owes an immortal bandit. Geralt must then undertake three impossible tasks, but that means it takes Geralt a little longer than normal. The Butcher of Blaviken must set about being possessed by a ghost in order to go to wedding and pull a rose out of a dead woman's nightmares. Along the way he also helps out some merchants, pulls off a heist, and still manages to get in a little monster hunting on the side. He also reconnects with, and maybe rekindles his romance with, alchemist and medic Shani.

   The main thrust of the plot finds Geralt caught between the agendas of a demon and a monstrous vagabond that may have enough of a sliver of humanity to get a sense of tragedy to the character. The grudging assents and heel dragging through the story is excellently executed even for the high bar the core game set. The sections with Shani feel authentic and are splendid to play through.

   The expansion also adds a new crafting system. A new merchant can stack runes into weapons or armour pieces for an effect beyond the sum of those parts, and he can also add rune slots to other equipment just to make things simpler for players.

   There are also new monsters which are, higher level versions of neckers all across the plains; giant spiders lurking in forests and boars are all over the place to take down an incautious player. Hearts of Stone, in the grander scheme, is more of The Witcher 3, more countryside that treads the line between bucolic and creepy, more great dialogue exchanges, more of the core detective gameplay seamlessly integrated into the post-game that is well worth the price of admission.

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