October 21st, 2015, 22:41 Posted By: Metareview
If you haven’t played The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt yet, you’re majorly missing out – not only is it one of the best Xbox One games of the year, it’s also had tons of free downloadable content and updates since its release back in May. And this week, The Witcher 3 got its first premium expansion. It’s called Hearts of Stone, and it expands upon the core game’s strengths in every way, while providing a plethora of new stories, settings, bad guys, and of course, loot.
One of the things that makes The Witcher 3 so fantastic is its unwillingness to be conventional. Quests rarely play out the way you predict – instead, you’re often given a series of twists and turns, and a sometimes-bittersweet ending that you’ll have to live with. Hearts of Stone deepens that technique even more by leaning on some classic fairy tale themes (like the frog prince), and then turning them on their heads by putting both a mature twist and an air of unpredictability to them.
Plenty of fairy tale tropes have seeped into The Witcher 3’s stark, medieval mix, with haunted mansions, altered dimensions, and dream states. Bizarre creatures and tough enemies are plentiful, too, with some all-new moves for protagonist Geralt of Rivia. The new baddies drop high-level loot (Hearts of Stone is targeted for characters of level 30 and above, although it’s open to anyone who owns the game), which could make your life a whole lot easier if you haven’t conquered the main storyline yet.
And then, of course, there are the new secondary characters, who make the world of The Witcher 3 so rich and rewarding. From a smoldering old love interest to the creepy, shady Man of Glass, plenty of dialogue, interactions, and mysteries abound. Developer CD Projekt RED has implied that Hearts of Stone will cast Geralt as everything from a detective to comic relief; whatever the case, the expansion’s new scenarios will give you a lot to dissect and discuss, long after they’re over.
Hearts of Stone lasts about 10 hours from start to finish (for high-level characters, that is; newbies may find it considerably more challenging), and retails for a cool $9.99 on Xbox Live. Considering that this is only the first of several major planned DLC expansions for The Witcher 3, if you haven’t played this game yet, now is the time to get started. And if you – like us – are neck-deep in The Witcher 3, you surely can’t wait to get even deeper.
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