Adding 16 free lots of new quests, items, outfits and modes to a game which already had a hundred million things in it was an ostensibly generous move from the creators of The Witcher 3 [official site]. But how substantial is this stuff, really? I took a look at what's really in each DLC, how satisfying it is, and where in the Northern Kingdoms you can find it all.
Temerian Armor Set
What it is: “Reserved for the finest of warriors serving the kindgom of Temeria, the Temerian Armor Set includes a jacket, gloves, pants, boots and horse tack.”
What it really is: Free horse armour (primarily on the face rather than body), as a probable poke in the eye to Bethesda’s notorious Oblivion paid DLC way back when. You also get some reasonably dandy level 4-ish duds out the deal.
Any good? If you’ve got plenty of spare cash in the early game, it’s definitely a decent set of armour to help you through tougher fights, but you’ll have moved on from it by level 7 or so. The horse armour, meanwhile, has longer-lasting benefits for Roach’s inventory, speed and fear, though it’s nothing you can’t obtain from less militaristic clobber for him. Personally I preferred the rustic, just-escaped-from-a-field look for my horse, but it’s a worthwhile pick-up for anyone who prefers finery. I wouldn’t say any of this stuff is worth the slightly laborious trek back to one of the starting areas to get it if you’ve already progressed to Velen or Novigrad, though.
Where to get it: Back in White Orchard, the game’s first main area. Go to Bram, the trader just outside Woesong Bridge – who you may remember as the mopey-lookin’ dude with the heinous bowl cut hairdo who you rescued from a griffin way back when.
Beard and Hairstyle Set
What it is: "Customize Geralt of Rivia to your liking with this amazing set of beards and hairstyles."
What it really is: Five haircuts, five beard styles, available for 10 coins each from an in-game barber NPC.
Any good? Oh, y'know, hair. A couple of the options are a fun change if you're bored of Geralt's default shabby chin'n'hairband look, but they're not even faintly wild - there's a clear limit on how irreverent the game is prepared to be. This isn't Saint's Row, I realise, but it's a shame I can't have a mohawk and a ZZ Top beard. I did quite like the mutton chops, though. ALSO choosing one of the fancy cuts stops Geralt's beard from growing over the course of the game. You have been warned.
Where to get it: Velen, in the island town called Oxenfut, over on the East near Novigrad gate. The barber's just about in the middle of town - a scissors icon will appear on your minimap when you're near. There's also one in Kaer Trolde harbour in Skellige.
Alternative Look for Yennefer
What it is: "Check out this entirely new look for the mighty sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg!"
What it really is: Fan service. Hence Steam reviews such as "So much easy to undress Yen with this new outfit!"
Any good? Well, it's basically a Goth Moulin Rouge Dancer outfit, and is very much about lace stockings and exposed thighs. You may appreciate it if you have onanistic intentions towards videogame characters or want alternative cosplay inspirations, but I found it harder to take the game or that character entirely seriously when the DLC was activated. The feathery armband things are quite fitting for a mysterious sorceress, however.
Where to get it: Just turn it on and it's on, basically. Outside of the introductory sequence, you'll encounter Yennefer once you've completed the main questline in White Orchard, and if you want to see her again after that you'll need to find your way to Skellige (expensive, high-level).
New Quest 'Contract: Missing Miners'
What it is: "Miners from a small Skellige village are disappearing. Investigate and find out what's happening!"
What it really is: A 15 minute or so standard noticeboard quest, with a little bit of standard-issue footprint tracking and the option of a fight with a child-like monster who slightly reminds me of my two-year-old daughter when she's unconvincingly promising not to push other children at nursery.
Any good? Not bad, but it doesn't feel like an add-on so much as something chopped out so it could be added later for free, in the hope of community brownie points. It's pretty standard fare for The Witcher 3: those very routine investigations, then a minor moral choice that's going to leave someone pissed off at you no matter what you do. It's short but vaguely memorable, thanks to an enjoyable, dual-outcome conversation with a very stupid monster.
Where to get it: In the middle of the main Skellige island, from the noticeboard in a town called Blandare. You should be at least level 12 or so.
Nilfgaardian Armor Set
What it is: "Crafted from the finest materials available, the Nilfgaardian Armor Set includes a jacket, gloves, pants, boots and horse tack."
What it really is: A mid-game version of the the Temerian Armor Set, offering level 10 armour and horse gear in a black, silver and gold colour scheme.
Any good? You'll probably get a bit more wear out of it than its Temerian predecessor, and it looks far more impressive too. In terms of stats it's not a dramatic improvement on gear you can find, build or buy at around that level anyway, plus the armour is irritatingly short on sockets, but it'll make you feel a whole lot better about yourself if your Geralt has been stuck wearing doublets which look like potato sacks for a while. The biggest win, though, is saddlebags for Roach with an inventory capacity of a whopping 70, plus a vaguely Louis Vuitton styling.
Where to get it: The Quartermaster, in the Crow's Perch (aka the Bloody Baron's yard) in central Velen. Look for the general shopkeeper icon, rather than the nearby Dwarf armourer.
Elite Crossbow Set
What it is: "Bring down your enemies with lethal accuracy and extend your tactical possibilities with this elite crossbow DLC."
What it really is: Three crossbows with custom, fancier models, one level 7, one level 14, one level 21.
Any good? Entirely throwaway, to be honest. You can find or buy very similar or often better crossbows at the relevant level anyway, and it's not as if the crossbow is a go-to weapon for most players. It's the more ornate designs which are the main reason to pick 'em up, realistically, but it's not going to meaningfully affect your bolt-throwing.
Where to get it: Respectively: the Quartermaster in Velen's Crow's Perch; the Blacksmith in Skellige's Kaer Trolde; a Shopkeeper behind in Novigrad, behind the most Northerly noticeboard.
New Quest 'Fool's Gold'
What it is: "Geralt and a village idiot team up to learn the secret of an abandoned village inhabited entirely by pigs."
What it really is: Yeah, that, basically. 20 minutes or so of vaguely amusing, low-challenge questing, including several Witcher 3 archetypes: fools, animal-herding, monster ambushes and a climactic moral choice.
Any good? Fine. By which I mean it would probably be considered a great quest in an RPG that wasn't already filled with inventive, unpredictable missions. It's a bit too heavy on the backtracking and escorting, and doesn't do much with the inherent humour of its porcine concept, but it's a decent gimme.
Where to get it? In Velen, head East past the Crow's Nest, keep going East past Lindenvale, and soon enough you'll find a small village named Lurtch, at which point a quest available icon should appear on your map.
'Ballad Heroes' Neutral Gwent Card Set
What it is: "Make your Gwent Deck legendary! The "Ballad Heroes" neutral Gwent card set will provide alternative cards capturing characters from Dandelion's ballads in all their glory."
What it really is: There are no new cards whatosever, but this 15MB add-on simply gives you alternative art for the 10 Neutral Hero cards in the all-conquering, in-game CCG Gwent. (This means the likes of Geralt, Ciri, Zoltan and Yennefer). The new art is all dynamic and stuff, like a still from a particularly overblown Blizzard cinematic, rather than the Grumpy Catalogue Model poses on the standard versions.
Any good? Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Where to get it: Just turn it on and off from the Downloadable Content option in the main menu. Applies to existing cards and any you're yet to collect.
New Quest: 'Scavenger Hunt: Wolf School Gear'
What it is: "Adventure awaits! Embark on an epic treasure hunt and get your hands on a long-lost elite set of Wolf School witcher gear!"
What it really is: A questchain in Kaer Morhen which yields diagrams for level 14 armour and new swords, which can be later upgraded three times. The chestpiece has an adrenaline gain, the gloves boost sign intensity, the boots attack power, and the trouser adrenaline and sign intensity.
Any good? Bit of a head-scratcher this one - you can't get everything you need for the entry-level version of armour until really, really late in the game, by which point you'll almost certainly have obtained better armour anyway. However, you can upgrade it three times, all the way to level 34 Mastercrafted status, at which point Geralt looks like a medieval biker. The black and red leather set is definitely some of the best-looking armour in the game, but ideally it would be available much earlier. It's a substantial chunk of new stuff to make and do, though.
Where to get it? Get thee to Kaer Morhen once you can access it (probably around level 20, and towards the end of the main quest chain), then follow the quest directions to find the diagrams. Involves fights against level 23 monsters and some mild Sign-based puzzling. Visit the Merchant in Lindenvale, the Armorer in Kaer Trolde, the Blacksmith in Kaer Muire, the Armorer in Hierarch Square in Novigrad, and Hattori in Novigrad to get maps for the upgrades.
Alternative Look for Triss
What it is: "Love to play dress up? Now you can with this exclusive new look for Triss Merigold."
What it really is: Fan service, again, this time for Geralt's on/off squeeze Triss, and primarily designed for players who want to see as much of her breasts as is possible.
Any good? Look, you already know whether you want it or not. Personally, I think it's very silly and paints the game in a bad light.
Where to get it? Just turn it on from the Downloadable Content menu. Or off. Bear in mind that you don't see Triss for all that long in the game, however.
Contract: Skellige's Most Wanted
What it is: "A monster hunt like no other -- Can you survive it?"
What it really is: A relatively long - half hour or so - quest with plenty of fights against multiple types of monster and some story beats which play into your earlier decisions. Don't start this one until fairly late, both because it's a suicide run if you're lower than level 20 and because of how it's effected by previous events.
Any good? Yeah, it's one of the strongest free offerings, probably second only to New Game+. It's mechanically pretty simple - primarily a straight dungeon run followed by a chat and then a boss fight - but it's a very much a pay-off to what sort of Witcher you've been towards the land's less, ah, conventional denizens throughout the course of the game. A culmination of choices which, in some respects, is more meaningful than the main-game denouements.
Where to get it: A port town named Fyresdal, towards the South of the main Skellige island. Wander into town and look for the yellow exclam over some folk chatting. Note: it's worth completing the Missing Miners DLC quest before this one too.
Alternative Look For Ciri
What it is: "Mix things up with this new and finely crafted outfit for Ciri."
What it really is:
Fan service. Ah, no, these replacement clothes aren't quite so pervy. It's a more armoured and regal look for Geralt's wandering protege, though the bare midriff renders any added protection it offers redundant.
Any good? Hard to get excited about, really. It makes Ciri look a bit less like she had a hard day working at the baker's and forgot to do her blouse up properly, but on the other hand it doesn't quite mesh with the whole 'on the run, living hand to mouth' thing.
Where to get it: Just turn it on or off and you'll see it in the Ciri flashback sections and later appearances.
New Quest 'Where the Cat and Wolf Play...'
What it is: "Explore a forgotten village and discover its terrifying secret. Find out who or what slaughtered its inhabitants and use all your witcher skills to confront this mysterious force."
What it really is: A pretty tough, half-hourish level 25 quest which takes you back to Velen and shines a little more light on what's going on with Witchers generally.
Any good? Structurally it's standard Witcher 3 fare: lots of tedious footprint-chasing, a couple of monster ambushes, a villager who takes some convincing before they'll tell you what's going on. It also features a particularly rubbish example of an adult actor pretending to be a child, perma-shrill voice and blatantly fake crying included. But then it moves into something different, and more memorable: a chance, of sorts, to gaze at your own behaviour from the outside rather than inside, and then make a judgement on whether your sympathies ultimately lie with everyday people or with Witchers.
Where to get it: From the noticeboard in a village named Oreton, south of the Crow's Perch in Velen. Come back to Oreton at least a week after completing the quest for a short epilogue.
New Finisher Animations
What it is: "Slay your foes in new brutal and spectacular ways with this visceral and adrenaline-pumping DLC!"
What it really is: A few extra, randomly-appearing, usually more bloody kill moves for people who treat the word 'visceral' seriously.
Any good? Good-looking as far as blood'n'guts goes, coming over like a less awkward and puppety take on Fallout 3's kill moves. The random appearances of gruesome decapitations and bifurcations does lend a more dramatic air to workaday bandit-bashing, it must be said. If you want to live up to the whole Butcher of Blaviken thing it's a must, I guess.
Where to get it: Turn it on in settings, or turn it off if you're somewhere which frowns on these sorts of things.
What it is: "Hungry for more action? Start a new game with all the skills and items from your previous playthrough, get better loot, slay even more ferocious beasts and relive the epic fantasy adventure that is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt!"
What it really is: The same game but with whatever level and gear you finished with first time around, and enemies levelled up to suit (which is what the blurb means by 'even more ferocious'). You get big XP for even standard fights, so it's an efficient means of maxing out everything and finally getting to make use of any Mastercrafted weapons and items you were too puny for first time around.
Any good? Definitely a significant addition, although personally the idea of repeating that long an experience primarily in the name of more loot and levels doesn't appeal. That said, it does provide an excuse to make different quest and dialogue decisions than before and see what happens, without having to run the level treadmill right from the start again.
Where to get it: Complete the main story, then make a new manual save. Return to the main menu and choose new game - after choosing difficulty you can hit New Game+ and then have it use the aforementioned manual save as a basis for it.
On the one hand, you're looking at about five hours of extra stuff (New Game+ excluded), depending on how many fast travel points you've already unlocked - there's quite a bit of schlepping around just to get to the relevant quests and shops. Not bad. On the other hand, that's a drop in the ocean for the Witcher 3 and its hundreds of hours of possible playtime. Also, a bunch of this stuff is either entirely cosmetic or its rewards and new items aren't of much use given the point in the game at which they show up, and the surfeit of stuff already available. The rewards are the DLC's weakest aspect, so go into the quests for the sake of the quests, rather than what you get given for completing them.
I must say that I very much incline towards thinking that much of the DLC was existent stuff excised and released separately as a marketing stunt. (And one which has worked: Steam reviews are filled with people saying 'this is how you do it EA' and similar). It's by and large too solid to be cutting room floor stuff, but it certainly doesn't seem as though it's had any special attention. Can't argue with free, however, and I suspect all this would have been fairly favourably received even had CDP bunged it all in one pack and charged a fiver for it. What comes next will have a price tag, and, unlike all this stuff, will have at least partially been made in the light of The Witcher 3's reception - so there's a chance we'll see more meaningful differences from it. I really hope it manages to make investigations more interesting.