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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Mature themes, brutal combat overwhelm positive messages.
Positive Role Models
Though Geralt seems like a good person (based on selected actions, motives, responses), he kills thousands of characters with weapons, magic. He also takes prostitutes to bed, which raises moral questions. Not a terrific role model, even though he fights evil.
There are a number of male and female characters of all ages that have prominent roles within the storyline. While diversity is lacking, many of the female characters are incredibly powerful and have as much strength as their male counterparts.
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Ease of Play
The game has simple controls that are easy to learn. There are two optional tutorials, the ability to pause to review controls, the map, and other information. Additional improvements to the map, menu controls, bug fixes, and inventory makes this version a more accessible game than ever before.
Violence & Scariness
Extremely violent, gory, and bloody. Right from the first dream sequence, players see a horse decapitation, a crow fly through someone's eye socket, skull, a battlefield littered with corpses. Players inflict most of the gore in this game, such as slicing and dicing beasts, but other gore is seen during cut scenes.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Female nudity, including exposed breasts, buttocks, can be seen. There are scenes of sexuality, including the option to take women to bed. Some are prostitutes as well. Sexual groans heard, but the "act" isn't seen.
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Strong profanity, including words such as "f--k," "c--t," and "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Optional side quests consuming large amounts of alcohol in a drinking game. Some characters are inebriated -- including slurred words, off-balance movements -- while others are passed out.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Witcher III: Wild Hunt Next Gen is a role-playing game (RPG) for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs, with a free upgrade in content for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S. Much of the game centers around combat, which allows the gamer to wield swords and other weapons, as well as magic blasts, to destroy fantastical creatures. Enemies can be sliced and diced, decapitated, and dismembered into bloody, fleshy chunks. Noninteractive cut scenes are equally gory at times. The game also contains female nudity (breasts and buttocks), implied sexual intercourse (moaning), and optional sex with prostitutes. Along with strong profanity, such as "f--k," "s--t," and "c--t," players also can engage in a drinking game and see scenes of inebriation. The Next Gen version includes downloadable content from the previously released Blood and Wine and Hearts of Stone expansions, as well as content inspired by the Netflix show.
Is It Any Good?
This is an extraordinarily fun and attractive game that's easy to pick up, but very difficult to put down, especially with all of the new game additions. The first thing you'll notice in The Witcher III: Wild Hunt Next Gen are graphics so detailed and vivid, the game looks like a computer-generated (CG) movie. Players have the option to select from the visually gorgeous graphic mode, which makes the environments and character models look more realistic than ever before thanks to its ray tracing effects. But this does come at a cost of performance, so unless you're taking a photo of a landscape or a character, you probably want to keep it on the performance mode, which runs at a blisteringly fast and buttery smooth 60 frames a second. That makes fight scenes feel more visceral, more intense and more fluid than ever before. But be warned: Though the combat is gratifying, gorgeous, and raw, it's certainly not for the squeamish. Also, instead of being kept on a short leash, the game enjoys an open world that welcomes nonlinearity. You can explore freely, opt for side quests or monster-hunting contracts, or stick to the main mission(s) at hand; it's entirely up to you. Regardless of how you tackle this game, you never feel like you're lost (unlike in some other huge RPG worlds).
As in any good adventure game, Wild Hunt Next Gen is incredibly deep. For example, Geralt's special Witcher potions provide him with special abilities such as attribute bonuses or eliminating negative status effects from enemies. Though you can buy or find these potions, crafting them by farming ingredients from herbs (and even parts of monsters) is the key to success. You'll also need to make decisions that could take the story in many directions. The game introduces repercussions for certain choices you make (be they political, personal, or professional). For instance, bring an arsonist to justice, and his victim may provide you with a discount at his store, but the punishment may turn the townsfolk against you. There's already dozens of hours of content here, but Wild Hunt Next Gen expands the gameplay significantly by tossing in the previously released expansion packs as well. So if you're interested in fighting against the vampires of Blood and Wine, or defeating the shapeshifters from Hearts of Stone, all that content is waiting for you. There's also more content included that's been inspired by the Netflix show, as well as a ton of items designed to improve the overall experience. For instance, the maps now are cleaner and easier to read thanks to the flood of icons in a region being natively turned off. That makes it easier to determine whether you're going to explore a side quest, main storyline, or roam through the wilderness, without getting lost. Similarly, the changes to the spellcasting sign menu makes it easier to swap between spells, resulting in combat feeling more immersive and bringing out your inner monster hunter as you adjust your attacks in the heat of battle. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt Next Gen is the definitive version of this amazing tale, and once you've leapt into the this story, you'll want to go back to explore the entire series.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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