Based on the popular Polish fantasy books written by author Andrzej Sapkowski, the Witcher franchise is one of the most successful book-to-game adaptations in recent history. Now with its own Netflix show, The Witcher is a great example of a fantasy world where choices are tough to make and nothing is black and white.
Today, we’re going to take a look at each of the Witcher games so far, what made them so special and just how far the series has come in 13 years.
Release Date: 26 October 2007
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, OS X
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In The Witcher, you play as Geralt of Rivia, a genetically enhanced human who is trained to slay monsters. You’ll make your way through the lands, taking on quests and slaying monsters for money. Many of the choices you’ll make along the way will have consequences further down the line. Not all of these choices will be easy and oftentimes you’ll have to choose the lesser of two evils.
Released back in 2007, this is a title that had a great story, but a tricky set of mechanics that felt cumbersome to play around with. During the time where a lot of RPGs used dice-roll mechanics to deal out combat, The Witcher mixed all this with a blend of turn-based combat where you needed to click your enemies at the correct time to keep your combo going.
This did lead to some pretty tactical combat however, you had different stances you could use, different weapon types depending on whether your foe was a human or monster and a host of magical signs you could cast.
You can also craft potions to give yourself a better shot at survival, but this takes some practice to get right. You can learn potion effects through scrolls or even by experimenting with various ingredients. Get it right and you might end up with a health potion, get something wrong and you could easily end up poisoned.
Release Date: 17 May 2011
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, OS X, Linux
Arriving four years after the original Witcher game, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings came with some very welcome changes. The combat system from the first game had been completely reworked and now felt more modern and manageable. The action was more fast-paced and the swordplay smooth and responsive.
With more focus on combat, potions take a bit of a backseat in this game. They are still effective and give Geralt a boost, but they won’t last as long as before. The six signs that you’ll use in combat do have more of an impact though. You’ll be able to stun and knockback opponents with Aard, throw flames with Igni, and protect yourself with a temporary shield with Quen. There are also a few different traps that you can make use of during combat which can inflict different effects.
There is more of a focus on the story in this title and some of the choices you’ll make in earlier chapters can have a huge impact on the game. The game starts off with Geralt in prison under suspicion of assassinating the king of Temeria. From here, Geralt journeys to clear his name and search for the kingslayer.
Along the way, you’ll meet all kinds of characters including Zoltan, a close friend of Geralt, Triss, a powerful sorceress and love interest, and of course, Dandelion, a poet, bard, and fan-favorite.
Release Date: 19 May 2015
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Probably the most well known out of the series, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt built on everything great about the story from the previous two games and perfected it. In four years, the developers managed to drastically improve the graphics, gameplay, and expanded the open world in this sequel. With a sprawling, non-linear narrative and a huge world to explore, there is plenty to get stuck into alongside the main quest.
The Witcher continues Geralt’s story after the previous game which sees the Northern Realms under attack from a Nilfgaardian force. After receiving a letter from the sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg, Geralt begins his quest to find her and Ciri, a child bound to him by destiny.
Once again, you’ll find the same flowing combat system which works perfectly in this game. There are fast attacks and slow attacks to keep your combo going, a parry system to allow for counter-attacking, and a dodge and roll maneuver to escape tricky foes. You are also able to fight on horseback in this title, which can make it a lot easier when dealing with large packs of enemies.
There are also two large expansions for The Witcher 3 that add a massive amount of content. In Hearts of Stone, Geralt is hired to track down a banding captain named Olgierd von Everec, a man said to possess the power of immortality. In Blood and Wine, Geralt explores Toussaint, a duchy untouched by war, where he’ll try to track down a beast who terrorizes the kingdom.
There we have it, a shortlist of all The Witcher games in order of release so far. If you haven’t yet picked up one of these games, we’d definitely recommend giving them a go if you love fantasy, open-world RPGs.
With the release of next-generation consoles just around the corner, fans of The Witcher games will be holding out hope for the next addition to the franchise to come sooner, rather than later.
Which is your favorite of The Witcher games? Which would you recommend to new fans of the TV series? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. To keep up with the latest news and more lists like these, be sure to keep checking back, or even follow us on Twitter.