Witcher 3 – Side Quests Done Right

Do you know what I am loving most about The Witcher 3? It is the stories of everyday life in this vast fantasy world filled with monsters, war and the potential end of times. There is a massive cast of supporting characters, most of who are simple peasants or merchants, yet they are all so varied and interesting. Seeing how Geralt, an outcast, interacts with them is simply brilliant. 

One of my favourite things that has happened to me in the game was something that would make me groan with disappointment in any other game. In the first main area, Geralt is searching for Ciri, somebody he views as a daughter who has been missing for years. To get information he speaks with a baron who wants Geralt to find his own vanished wife and daughter. One clue that you find leads you to a slightly unhinged old man who informs you that he will contact the spirits to aid you. Geralt is skeptical but agrees and they go outside to get the man’s goat for the ritual. Only, the goat has wandered off and you are asked to bring it back.

As you can imagine, Geralt, who is a slayer of monsters and former bodyguard of a king, is not happy about having to track down a goat. But he goes, after a sigh of utter defeat that this is what he has been reduced to. Now he is searching for a goat to help him search for the baron’s family to help search for Ciri. He finds the goat and lures it back using a little bell but the goat keeps getting distracted by wild berries. Geralt asks if he is going to have to keep ringing the bell to keep the animal’s attention, something clearly mocking this type of gameplay mechanic. Then the goat wanders into a bear’s den, forcing you to protect this goat from a giantass bear, and bears are no laughing matter in the early stages of The Witcher 3. Once that is done you continue back to the old man’s hut and Geralt begins to talk to the goat, saying they could become friends with time and that he had the makings to become a new Roach, (Roach being the name that Geralt gives to all of his horses).

For all intents and purposes, this was a filler quest without depth. Fetch a goat so its milk can be used in a ritual for another quest. But you know what? I found myself smiling through most of it. I actually became attached to a goat despite only being with it for a few moments. It helped show another side to Geralt beyond the womanising monster hunter. He is a great and powerful man forced to complete a demeaning task and is reduced to talking to a goat yet he is light-hearted about it and is very companionable to the creature. I can’t put my finger on quite why but I really enjoyed what should have been a boring five minute time waste.

The thing is, The Witcher 3 is filled with these sorts of quests. I have not done a quest that has felt boring or dry. If something isn’t very action packed, Geralt’s dry humour makes it funny. When you think that you are dealing with a simple curse it becomes a deep tragedy that pulls at your emotions. The Witcher 3 is excellent at exceeding your expectations of what RPG quests should be. That is why, for me at least, The Witcher 3 is the best game I have played in years.

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