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The placement of signposts, points of interest, and locations is very smart too. The maps feel dense without feeling compressed, and CD Projekt has been smart into weaving small vignettes where it makes sense, and rejected the temptation to go for high stakes all the time. There are treasures hidden in nooks and crannies, stories told through the environment and notes, bandit camps, and more. In all fairness, the exploration pace can start to feel repetitive after a while, but it does offer a nice break from the main questing.
Ultimately, I feel that The Witcher 3 didn't necessarily need to be open world. In hindsight, the only thing the game needed was to be on a larger scale than the previous two chapters, something at which it succeeded. But the open world implementation does not detract from the gameplay at all. Indeed, the feeling of scale and freedom offered by the game often enhances the story moments, as they feel more grounded in an actual world and less artificial as a result.
I mentioned the presentation in passing when talking about Geralt, but I worry that perhaps I haven't been clear enough: The Witcher 3 looks and sounds absolutely fantastic. While CD Projekt encountered some very vocal backlash for refusing to admit that some of the lighting solutions and effects used in the early trailers have been pared back by a significant margin, there's no denying that The Witcher 3 looks really good.
This is a world that matches its great scale with great attention to details, and it's enveloped by some lovely dynamic lighting based on the time of the day and weather conditions. The game also boasts some pretty impressive facial and body animations during cutscenes. They easily beat anything BioWare has released so far, and no shortcuts have been taken despite there being a lot of cutscenes (I can't actually think of a quest without at least one).
If someone pointed a gun at me and forced me to think of any failures related to the game's looks, I could certainly think of a few, though. In the long run, the recycling of NPC faces becomes extremely obvious, in spite of the different hair and clothing combinations. And speaking of clothing, for some bizarre reason CD Projekt's artist decided that the early armors Geralt has access to should look like poorly made Christmas sweaters, which is a far cry from the intricate armors from The Witcher 2.
The Witcher 3's audio department stands up to its visuals, thanks to a soundtrack with a lot of personality and some solid voicework. Voice actors from the previous games come back to turn in their best performances yet, and most big NPCs also offer some very convincing performances. The generic NPCs are more of a mixed bag. There are frequent comical bouts of overacting and simply not enough voices for the gigantic cast, but it's something that's easy to forgive when one considers the scale of the project.
Overall, though, The Witcher 3 looks and sounds amazing.
Bugs and Performance
The Witcher 3 is an open world game. You all know what it means by this point. There are bugs, a lot of them. My experience with the game hasn't been too bad on this front, but I'd be lying if I said The Witcher 3 is polished. I've had a few crashes, sometimes characters would spawn in T-pose and without a face, even during important cutscenes, Geralt's beard would sometimes disappear and reappear during a scene, and so on. Luckily, though, none of the quests broke during my time with the game.
CD Projekt has been aggressive with patches after the launch of the game, so hopefully the really bad bugs will be squashed soon and more quality of life options will be added in the near future. The patches have also helped with performance somewhat, but the game still requires an impressive rig to run with all bells and whistles turned on. I managed to squeeze a decent framerate from the game with a mix of medium, high and ultra settings on my mid-range rig, but getting really stable performance levels from the game is a bit of a challenge.