Henry Cavill’s arse made me buy a video game.
That’s a sentence I never thought I’d have to write as a heterosexual man who has been married for 14 years but it’s true none the less.
I’d heard of The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. I even owned a copy by accident five years ago. I won the game and the complete book series on twitter, but I didn’t have an Xbox, so I sold it.
Fast forward and I see a twitter article regarding the aforementioned Kryptonian’s leather clad derriere. I clicked on it. I was impressed. I’m not going to lie. Cavill, (Man of Steel) who has been kicking around my viewing habits since The Tudors might be the perfect example of manhood. Michealangelo’s David made real, in all his arm gun-loading glory.
It made me sit up and take notice of the Netflix series for sure.
I checked it out on release day (the show not his bum, get your minds out of the gutter people) and was genuinely blown away. So much so I haven’t finished it yet. I’m taking the extra time and savouring it. In the first few episodes it’s a very confusing show. There’s a lot of narrative to take in, it jumps around a fair old bit but once the penny drops it all makes sense. The fight scenes, one in particular in the first episode competes with Netflix season one Daredevil corridor battle for one of the most realistic fights I’ve ever seen on a television series.
But anyway, I digress this article isn’t about Henry Cavill’s butt or the TV show it’s about the game which almost passed me. Damn I’m glad it didn’t.
For a game that hit it’s fifth birthday this year The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt plays like it was released yesterday. There are only two games that I can think that come close in terms of sheer storytelling and actively make you care for its characters. GTAV and Red Dead Redemption 2, the latter I can now see was heavily influenced by The Witcher.
When I first started playing I had zero clue what I was doing, who these people were. All I was doing was bashing buttons and hoping for the best. The second it went to a cut scene or some lengthy dialogue I’d zone out grab my phone and check twitter or whatever until Beardy McMedieval or whoever shut up until I could get back to the action. Slowly though, the dialogue and cut scenes started to become more important.
Then the Lockdown happened, here in Belfast.
The story in The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt became everything to me. I’ve played this game exclusively going on two months straight now, every damn day. I’m not even close to completing the main game – never mind the side missions and the two expansion packs, Hearts Of Stone and Blood and Wine. I chase those little “?” side mission icons like a fat kid chases cake. OK, it’s me chasing the cake too, and I’m the fat kid.
I’m obsessed with learning every single alchemy recipe, hunting down every single piece of Witcher gear and making every single piece of armour. To begin with I couldn’t have cared less about gear it seemed too complicated, but once you get it it’s so satisfying. It's like a "yeah, I made that!" type of feeling.
I could write an article purely on the music. I normally don’t even notice video game music nowadays. I even deliberately leave Witcher on a menu screen while I’m doing other stuff to just listen to its' brilliance.
And the voice acting? Again, normally I couldn’t care less - just shut up and let me kill something. But the Skellige characters have a special place in my heart because they speak in my accent because they used actors from Northern Ireland. Normally when our accent is used in media, its with horrendous results. Remember Sons Of Anarchy? Parts of it are set in Belfast and for some reason instead of using Northern Irish talent they used Americans who sound like The Lucky Charms Leprechaun if he’d had a stroke. Titus Welliver, Harry Bosch himself is a tremendous actor, but his "Irish accent" in S.O.A. will haunt me until my dying day.
I fully expect to still be playing The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt until September when it’s creators CD Projekt Red release Cyberpunk 2077 - a game I may well have overlooked had I not five years too late fallen in love with the antics of Geralt of Rivia as the result of a global pandemic.
Show me your wares CD Projekt Red I have some Florens I want to exchange. Now excuse me I have to get butt, uh...I meant BACK to the final episodes on Netflix…
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is available to play and the first season of The Witcher television series is available on Netflix. Season 2 is currently in development.