The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone DLC

One thing The Witcher 3 is not short of is content. CD Projekt Red have made a legion of fans happy and showed the way to other developers with their list of free DLC already supplied.

Hearts of Stone is the first of two planned paid DLC's, offering around another 10 hours of story game play plus side quests. New characters, an old flame and more unique, powerful monsters. The story is rich, in depth and shaped by your actions and decisions. 

Hearts of Stone starts like any other quest. Go to a notice board, read the request and you're on your way. The first thing you notice is that it's more of the same. Go here, meet someone then onto the next. That works for me as it is what I want. However there have been some subtle changes.

The world and the cut scenes seem to look better, more vibrant with less popping of textures as you walk around and the lighting has had a bit of a shake up too.
The story telling has been taken up a notch from the standard story line. The voice acting is on point and once you start getting into the set pieces, they are awe inspiring. 

Unfortunately the opportunity to tweak the combat mechanics has been missed and they still feel a little clunky and slow. If you have enough hours in the world to be used to them, it shouldn't be an issue. 

Enemy intelligence and aggression have been ramped up. Combatants will now come at you in groups and it is very hard to get them one on one. Ranged attacks deal more damage also.  

It should be noted that the recommended level to begin is 32. You are even given the option to begin with a pre-made character if you have not reached a high enough level yet. I began at a level 35 and still found it a challenge. The first creature you must slay, the Toad Prince, killed me a lot, almost too the point where it was becoming a joke. Once you work out the trick though he goes down...eventually. This level of difficulty so early in the piece feels like a bit of an oversight by CD Projekt Red as it may stop a lot of people progressing further.

Hearts of Stone gives you a little more Novigrad to explore with the northern borders being expanded. Oxenfurt is the main location that the story is centered around with more of the city available to be explored. 

Overall CD Projekt Red have outdone themselves with their first paid add on. Hearts of Stone has some of the best story telling in the series. Some intriguing yet truly creepy individuals, a new race in the Ofieri, new toys, new gear and plenty of bonuses for the collectors out there including a rather unique collection of Witcher artifacts.

Well worth the price tag. Grab yourself a copy and get ready to once again journey out into the wilds with Geralt of Rivia.  

Pat (Snoogans)

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