The Witcher 3: Hearts Of Stone Expansion Now Out

The Witcher III: Hearts of Stone [official site], the game’s first major story expansion, is out now. Hearts of Stone adds a new 10-hour quest involving Geralt and The Wild Hunt’s Olgierd von Everec. According to our review, it “shows just about every other company how it’s done,” which is high praise from Richard Cobbett, a man who has played all games.

I have not played all games, nor all The Witcher games, nor more than seven-ish hours of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. In some ways, however, this makes this expansion a more appealing prospect: if you don’t have a suitable save game ready, Hearts of Stone “offers a custom New Game mode that switches off the main storyline quests, but boosts you to Level 32 and gives you lots of nice gear.” That means I could start immediately on the expansion, and though I imagine parts of it would be lost on me, the ten-hour length means I’m more likely to be able to play it, appreciate The Witcher’s strengths, and achieve some closure from it without without needing to devote months.

Though Hearts of Stone is apparently content-rich, it focuses on adding story and quests rather than mechanics or new continents. Those duties instead fall to the next expansion, due 2016, which is said to be much more ambitious.

Hearts of Stone is available from all the places Wild Hunt is and costs £8/$10.

17 Comments

  1. zura says:

    Why would anyone play a games expansion if they have not played the core game?

    • OctoStepdad says:

      “That means I could start immediately on the expansion, and though I imagine parts of it would be lost on me, the ten-hour length means I’m more likely to be able to play it, appreciate The Witcher’s strengths, and achieve some closure from it without without needing to devote months.”

      He says the reasoning right in the post, which I agree with him. Some people don’t have countless hours to play through the longer games.

      • vahnn says:

        Exactly.

        It boosts you to a high level, giving you access to many of the skills and also giving you lots of gear, and gives you a complete, compact adventure to work through that gives you a pretty good sample of the Witcher 3 experience in around 10 hours.

        I lost my save of 140 hours and had to start over. Pissed that I lost it, but playing again is just as good as the first time. Can’t wait to get to the HoS content.

      • zura says:

        I read that part, but honestly that seems pretty silly to me. If you don’t have time to play I recommend staying away from RPGs in general.

        I’m sure playing the expansion will be interesting, but I assume one would be way better off just spending the months it would take to actually complete the core game, then do the expansion as well.

    • Malfice says:

      Due to a busted GPU, I played W3 on a PS4, and dont fancy playing it all again. I rarely replay games, and assumed I’d be missing out on the expansion, since I sold my PS4 and finally got my PC up and running again.

      After reading this, I’ll be buying both W3 and the Expansion asap. Awesome addition.

  2. It's not me it's you says:

    I would love to play W3 more, but I just -cannot- get into the groove of it. The combat system will not get into my fingers and I just keep dying in fights I should win.

    I’m on my fourth or so go at it, spending an hour or two trying to orient myself and picking off low level quests in an attempt to get into the rhythm and it just never clicks.

    This bugs me because it’s from all accounts a great game I would love to be able to enjoy. :/

    • zura says:

      The combat is pretty straight forward. Personally I played it in a pretty passive way, dodging a lot then attacking when I saw an opening(you might want to rebind the alt dodge if you use kb). The trick is probably not to get too greedy. In one of the upgrade paths you can aquire a skill that gives you invincibility frames while dodging. Getting this skill will most likely make things a lot easier. Remember to use buffs as well, you only need to create potions and oils once and after that you can just meditate to restock your buffs.

      Another general tip is to use the quen sign a lot, it lets you take a hit without taking damage. Using this sign a lot makes battles way easier to manage.

      • suibhne says:

        Yeah, that dodge skill is a lifesaver, and Quen is huge. The great thing about Quen is that you can cast it right before a fight, then switch to another Sign to use during combat. Even basic Quen (not upgraded) is useful all the way through the endgame.

        The other thing to master is when to dodge vs. roll. The key to TW3 combat is to prioritize avoiding damage, so this dodge/roll decision is the key insight for each foe.

        If you play on the easiest skill level, these are pretty much all you need.

      • Premium User Badge

        Ninja Dodo says:

        I didn’t much care for the default controls, but when I rebound witcher sense and dodge to extra mouse buttons and put strong attack on right mouse button (instead of a modifier toggle) and block on the KB it all clicked into place, so to speak. I guess the gamepad defaults might be more immediately accessible but then you miss out on all the handy hotkeys.

        Should also note I ended up playing on the “alternate movement mode” which seemed to flow better.

        This and making good use of research and potions made the combat a lot more enjoyable.

  3. Brosecutor says:

    I’m eight hours in and enjoying it mightily, but just now I’ve hit a brick wall in form of an utterly broken and unfair boss fight.

    Damn shame, because I fucking adore Witcher 3.

    • suibhne says:

      Which one? I’m 90 hours in, and haven’t encountered a single fight I’d characterize that way…but there were definitely a number of that felt unfair or unmanageable without preparation (especially Oils).

      However, the first real “boss” fight (against the first Wild Hunt leader you encounter) is one of the weakest fights in the game. If that’s what you’re referencing, then I have every sympathy. It’s a pretty dull battle of attrition, jumping in for a single swipe at a time while Keira keeps him on his back heel.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Do you mean the Caretaker?

      If so, he’s a rat bastard. The best advice is that you HAVE to dodge his attacks or he refills in basically one hit, and if he stuns you, he’s probably going to summon. The good part is that when he gets stuck, you can REALLY wail on his back.

      I used Quen to give me a margin for error against his attack and bombs and Igni to deal with the weak ghosts he feeds from. But it took me many, many goes. Ended up going away and doing something else for a while. Didn’t really level past him, but came back less frustrated and beat him on the first go.

    • suibhne says:

      Aha, you meant a boss in HoS, not the base game. Sorry I misunderstood. Now I know to dread the encounter. ;)

    • Michael Fogg says:

      In the base game I only had real trouble in the boss fight on a certain mountaintop after a certain battle. But it was full Dark Souls mode, over an hour of repeated attempts. Kept dodging right into the bugger’s attacks and getting stunlocked.

    • Brosecutor says:

      Exactly, that darn caretaker.

  4. Velko says:

    I Have No Nose And I Must Sneeze

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      I feel like there was a commenter with that name who used to post here a while back…always made me laugh.