There’s kings to slay, monsters to hunt, and friends to save in The Witcher 3 but all I really care about is finding gear. I will climb the highest mountain for a new sword. I can’t stop. Not when there’s so much treasure to be found.
I can’t say I ever thought about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt as an open world game. Exploration didn’t really appeal to me. The game suffers from what I like to call “The Fallout 4 problem”. In Fallout 4, your main quest is to find your lost son. It’s a really heavy responsibility that makes it hard to justify rescuing another settlement or simply running off into the sunset with Nick Valentine. The Witcher 3 has a similar issue. Geralt is looking for Ciri, who is basically his adopted daughter. Which means that ruins delving or card tournaments feel a bit less important than the main quest.
But when I found my first scrap of Cat School armor and the game offered a large quest to explore secret locations and really see the world? Well, I’ve been hunting down new additions to my wardrobe ever since. This obsession reached an apex last night. I fought two monsters that were roughly ten levels above me just so I could get a piece of armor I can’t wear for another dozen levels. Here I am fighting this terrifying rock elemental for a snazzy new shirt.
Make no mistake: The Witcher 3 is full of characters and stories that have captured my imagination. But the entire affair felt a bit on rails; I moved from quest to quest without really exploring the world around me.
Treasure hunts completely change that. It knocked me off the tracks and gave me a new appreciation for the game world. Everything seems larger now and full of exciting potential. I see an old ruin and rush to explore it. If there’s a well hidden cave, I have to go spelunking. After all, there might be new gloves in there!