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Note: My apologies in the slowness of getting the guide up! Both of my save files became corrupted and with 200+ Hours of gameplay lost, I out of rage, refused to play the game for a couple of months. I’m back now though and plan to finish the guide up in the near future!
Note: This is a work in progress. My current aim is to complete each mission, whilst attempting to highlight all available options and outcomes and am currently on my third playthrough trying to pick up differences once again.
As this is such an enormous game, it will take quite a while to write for! As such, I’ll be working on filling out the Witcher Contracts, side-missions, places of interest, enemies guide and a bunch of other good stuff once I have finished the story.
Why hello there! Welcome to my guide to CD Projekt Red’s latest title in the Witcher series – The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. Wild Hunt is the first game in the series to date to feature a proper open world and once again focuses on leading man Geralt as he explores the northern realms. Whilst its gameplay is quite reminiscent of the previous games in the Witcher series, Wild Hunt puts some new and interesting spins on the formula to create something unique and entertaining.
This guide will provide you with a walkthrough from beginning to end helping with strategies to get you through all the tricky combat areas, detail each enemy type and how best to confront them, help you to find and complete each of the Witcher Contracts, side-quests and optional objectives, master Gwent, unlock all of those achievements/trophies and collect all of the games Gwent cards to boot.
At this stage, the guide currently contains:
- A completed story walkthrough from beginning to end!
- Side-quest guide for White Orchard
- Side-quest guide for most of the Velen side-quests (still in progress).
- Side-quest guide for most of the Novigrad side-quests (still in progress).
- Side-quest guide for most of the Skellige Isles side-quests (still in progress)
- Side-quest guide for most of the Kaer Morhen side-quests (still in progress).
- Started a Gwent Guide.
- Completed achievement/trophy guide.
If you see any errors, have a question, a tip or an alternate strategy for a section of the guide please head to the contact section and flick me an email to let me know!
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A simple donation is a great, easy way to say thanks if you feel that my guide has saved you some time, money and frustration in some small way. By no means feel obligated to donate just for viewing my guide, but if you are feeling a little generous I certainly won’t object!
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Melee attacks are where Geralt will be spending most of his time in combat and is your largest single source of damage. Subsequently players will be focusing more on melee than any other form of combat.
Geralt comes equipped with a pair of swords with which he can dish out DPS – a Silver Sword for fighting monsters and a Steel Sword for fighting humanoid opponents. Players can switch between swords at any point, but Geralt usually pulls out the relevant sword as he enters combat, so in most circumstances won’t need to worry about it.
Geralt starts off with a standard light and heavy attack but can unlock additional, more powerful melee abilities if you spend skill points in the combat tree. The attacks include:
Fast/Heavy Attacks – Geralt can perform a light attack or a heavy attack. Light attacks are slightly faster, but do reduced damage. Heavy attacks on the other hand take longer but will dish out significantly more damage. As Geralt’s wind-up animation for the fast/heavy attacks leaves him open to counterattacks in the interim it is recommended to only use heavy attacks on stunned enemies or those unaware of your presence.
These can be further enhanced for bonus critical strike %, bleeding effects and damage by sticking points into the respective Fast Attack and Heavy Attack tabs in the Combat skill Tree.
Additional melee-based abilities are unlocked once you start investing some points in the melee portion of the Combat Skill Tree. These abilities include:
- Whirl – This is a spinning attack that will do area of effect damage to any enemy within the immediate vicinity.
- Rend – This is a nasty overhead slash that will ignore armour and shields and do an enormous amount of damage.
Near the start of the game, Geralt is also gifted with a crossbow which can be used to perform ranged attacks against enemies. Whilst pulling out the crossbow to aim, time will slow a little giving you a slightly larger window in which to aim and fire.
Whilst crossbows remain your source of ranged damage during standard combat, their attack effects can be altered somewhat by the ammo that you choose to use with them. Different bolts can be crafted by armourers and will have different effects and damage bonuses.
Crossbow attacks can be further enhanced to slow time further whist aiming, increase critical hit damage/% and disable enemy special abilities for a brief time by investing points into the Marksmanship portion of the Combat Skill Tree.
Once you have dealt enough damage to an enemy, a button prompt will appear above their heads. Hitting the button signified when in close proximity will trigger a stylish execution attack that will kill the enemy during a canned animation. On the lower difficulties Geralt is invincible during these animations, so if you are low on health it is possible to exploit a finisher to avoid taking damage.
Note: Automatic finishers are enabled by default when you start a new game and as such you will not see the button prompts appear. They can be toggled on or off in the menu. This should be deactivated in the higher difficulty modes to avoid frustration!
Geralt has several ways in which he can avoid incoming enemy attacks or to limit or mitigate damage taken. Each of these techniques has its own benefits and drawbacks and experimenting with each in different situations will help figure out the right tactic for your gameplay style. Additional bonuses and abilities can be unlocked by investing points in the Defence portion of the Combat Skill Tree.
The default abilities include:
- Blocking – by blocking, in most circumstances Geralt can pretty much nullify the majority of standard melee attacks coming his way. Unfortunately, although it can reduce damage, it is not quite as effective when attempting to block incoming poison, fire or magical damage.
- Staggering – Geralt receives the ability to stagger most melee enemies near the start of the game. By timing your press of the block button to immediately before an enemy attack, Geralt can deflect and quickly counter with a hit that will also stun the recipient temporarily. This will leave them open for an additional follow up attack. Note that deflect/staggering will only work against melee attacks.
- Dodging – Geralt has the ability to do perform a quick side/back step to move out of danger quickly, but still maintain a short distance from a foe. This is incredibly useful for dodging incoming, unblockable enemy attacks during melee combat or during boss fights where blocking is not always an option. Pulling off a successful dodge will also give you a perfect opportunity to immediately follow up with a counterattack.
- Rolling – Rolling is similar to dodging in that it can get you out of a pinch fairly quickly. Unfortunately, it is somewhat less useful than the dodge as it will put more distance between Geralt and the enemy. This is much less useful against human enemies, but can be a lifesaver against larger boss monsters with unstoppable charging or area of effect knock back attacks.
Additional defensive abilities are unlocked once you start investing some points in the Defensive portion of the Combat Skill Tree. These abilities include:
- Deflect Arrows – By timing your press of the block button to immediately before an enemy arrow/bolt hits, Geralt can deflect it to avoid taking damage.
In addition to utilising ranged and melee combat abilities, Geralt is also privy to using magical signs. These signs have a range of functions with some causing nasty area of effect attacks, others buffing Geralt and others being useful both in and out of combat. These sign attacks will consume Geralt’s Stamina Bar which is the circular bar located below the health bar in the top left of the screen.
After a brief introduction, all five of Geralt’s Sign abilities are available from the start of the game, however additional bonus effects and alternate modes can be purchased from the Sign Skill Tree. All abilities within the tree can be upgraded multiple times to increase their effectiveness.
These Signs Abilities include:
- AARD – The AARD sign has many uses. Its base form acts as a kind of Jedi-style force push which can knock down enemies or cause them to stagger temporarily. Outside of combat, it can be used to knock down weak walls.
- AXII – In its base form, AXII allows Geralt to temporarily stun individual human/monster/beast enemies. This can also be used out of combat during conversations, usually to get your way or to calm animals (you can tame and ride horses doing this).
- IGNI – As a starting ability, IGNI is your major damage sign. When used it sends out a wave of fire immediately in front of Geralt. This will damage enemies and has a chance to light them on fire briefly stunning them and causing damage over time. This can be used out of combat to light torches and to complete several quests.
- QUEN – This sign is a mostly defensive one. In its base form, the sign creates a protective magical barrier around Geralt that will drastically improving his defence against incoming attacks. Once activated, the ability will slowly drain the Stamina Bar until it is completely depleted.
- YRDEN – The YRDEN sign creates a magical trap on the ground. When stepped in by an enemy, certain effects can occur, in its base form, the YRDEN trap will slightly slow enemy movement and pull ghostly creatures into a physical form.
Alchemy, Potions, Oils and Bombs
As a Witcher, Geralt is well versed in how to find reagents and concoct a range of alchemical-themed items which can provide him with a range of buffs and grant him advantage in battle. Recipes can be purchased from vendors, given as the occasional reward during a quest or found in chests or other lootable objects.
These recipes, once acquired can be crafted from the Alchemy tab of the menu. Fortunately, after they have been crafter for the first time, Geralt will remember how to make them (he’s good like that) and as long as you have sufficient alcohol in your possession, will automatically create a fresh batch every time you meditate.
The different types of alchemy formulae include:
- Bombs – There are a range of bombs that Geralt can craft with numerous effects. They can be equipped and are utilised like grenades.
- Potions – A wide range of different potions can be used to assist Geralt both in and out of combat. Potions offer up a wide ranging assortment of effects that can to mention but a few: allow breathing in poisoned areas, to regenerating health and increasing damage output. sing potions will increase Geralt’s Toxicity Bar (filling this too much will result in a loss of health).
- Oils – Oils are used to enhance Geralt’s weapons temporarily. For the most part these are used to increase attack damage or efficiency during combat and are often related to fighting against specific enemy types.
- Decoctions – similar to oils, decoctions are special potions that give bonus attributes, perks or qualities when fighting against specific enemy types. Typically decoctions are found in the environment and in my experience you’ll locate them near where you fight new enemy types for the first time.
- Alchemy Reagents – For some of the more advanced recipes, players are able to craft some reagents themselves. These include Mutagens (which can be used to enhance Geralt’s abilities) and other more hard to find constructed reagents.
Advanced Combat Tips
Whilst the standard attacks that Geralt uses to dish out damage are all well and good, there are a number of abilities or items that can when used in conjunction can give you a little extra edge in combat.
In addition to the standard arsenal of attacks that Geralt has at his disposal, he can also utilise various elements of the environment in conjunction with his sign magic to help during combat. These include:
- High points and AARD – Geralt can use his AARD force push attack to launch enemies to their deaths from cliffs, buildings or from other high locations.
- Beehives and AARD – Whilst wandering in the wilderness you will come across beehives on trees. These can be shot with the crossbow for Honeycomb, destroyed with IGNI and can be exploited to damage enemies by utilising AARD. Using AARD will destroy the nest and the bees will then attack anything that comes close.
- Swamp Gas and IGNI – Whilst venturing in swamps, or sewers, or ancient ruins or a combination of the aforementioned locales, you’ll occasionally come across swamp gas. Standing in this will damage Geralt, so it’s a good idea to avoid getting too close to it. However, it also happens to be highly flammable. Using IGNI to ignite the gas will cause an explosion damaging or killing anything within a close proximity.
- Barrels and IGNI – When you come across bandit camps, guarded estates or abandoned settlements with hostile enemies, you’ll often see barrels scattered around the area. Most barrels standing by themselves contain material that causes them to explode within a short time of being exposed to IGNI. As with swamp gas, these can be exploited to damage or kill enemies.
Managing Bars: Health, Stamina, Adrenaline and Toxicity
Geralt has a number of bars that you will need to manage to keep on top of a range of issues affecting Geralt’s performance both in combat and out. There are four gauge indicators that appear in the top left corner of the screen and each is associated with a different aspect of gameplay. They include:
The large red bar in the top left of the screen represents Geralt’s current health. If this bar is entirely depleted, Geralt will fall and you’ll need to reload your previous checkpoint. Health can be restored by eating Food or by consuming Swallow Potions. On the easier difficulties, meditating will fully restore your health but this will not work on
The amount of hit points in the health bar can be further increased by investing skill points into abilities related to boosting Geralt’s total health pool (Survival Instinct). It is also possible to allow regeneration of health over time (Sun and Stars) which can be found in the General Skill Tree.
Depending on the armour equipped, the amount of damage received, and thus the health loss associated can be reduced.
The Stamina bar refers to the yellow semi-circular bar located on the far left of the screen directly below the health bar. This bar is associated with both Geralt’s ability to sprint and the use of Geralt’s sign abilities.
Signs can only be used when the Stamina bar is full. The Stamina meter is depleted upon using a sign and afterwards will slowly fill over time to allow you to use another – it is, in essence a cooldown for your sign abilities to prevent spamming.
There are special abilities such as Whirl and Rend in the Heavy/Quick Attack portions of the Combat Skill Tree that will consume Stamina to perform a special attack.
The adrenaline meter is located below the Health Bar and just to the left of the Stamina Bar. It is comprised of three small semicircles that will gradually fill whilst dishing out damage during combat and reduce when Geralt sustains damage. At the end of combat, the bar will drain to empty.
In its most basic form, the Adrenaline meter will give Geralt a slight boost to his damage – the fuller the bar is, the more bonus damage Geralt will be able to dish out. Along with the obvious health-related benefits, the bonus damage provided by Adrenaline encourages players to learn to properly use the roll and dodge moves Geralt has at his disposal.
There are several interesting Adrenaline-related skills on offer in the General Skill Tree. They include:
- Focus will further scale damage that you do to the amount of Adrenaline available, essentially improving the base form.
- Adrenaline Burst will increase the rate of Adrenaline generation by 5%. You’ll also generate Adrenaline when using Signs.
- Rage Management enables you to utilise Adrenaline to cast Sign attacks if the Stamina bar is not sufficiently full enough.
Investing points in the Combat Skill Tree will have a passive effect of increasing % of Adrenaline generation.
The Toxicity meter can be located directly beneath the Health Bar. There is a Skull icon at its left hand side. It will fill as you use potions and decoctions and slowly drain over time. When your Toxicity level reaches 95% you will reach an unsafe level – Geralt will immediately lose a chunk of health and continue to lose health over time until the Toxicity level returns below 95%.
There are several interesting Toxicity-related skills on offer in the Alchemy Skill Tree. They include:
- Heightened Tolerance will allow you to add 1% per point invested towards your safe Toxicity threshold (95%) until it reaches 100%.
- Acquired Tolerance will provide a bonus increase to your Toxicity level for every alchemy potion that you learn.
- Fast Metabolism will greatly speed up the drain-out of the Toxicity meter.
- Delayed Recovery will increase your potion duration as long as you can maintain Toxicity levels above 90% of the safe threshold.
- Metabolism Control will increase your maximum Toxicity by 30.
Investing points in the Alchemy Skill Tree will have a passive effect of increasing % Toxicity Tolerance.
Witcher Sense is a vision mode that we will be using extensively throughout the game. Similar to the special ‘Detective modes’ in the Batman: Arkham games or the most recent Tomb Raider, Witcher Sense will highlight objects and areas of interest in the environment. In general the following are observable with Witcher Sense active:
- Orange – Chests, plants and other lootable containers/objects will be highlighted in orange.
- Red – Quest-related lootable objects or points of interest to be investigated are highlighted in red.
- Ripples – Enemies can be identified by ripples in the environment, allowing you to monitor their locations.
In addition to the visual advantage, Witcher Sense will also enhance Geralt’s hearing, allowing him to eavesdrop on conversations. This comes in handy occasionally when trying to garner information during a quest or two.
The game’s world is broken down into five maps – one for Kaer Morhan, Vizima, Velen, White Orchard and Skellige. On the maps, areas of interest are marked with a ‘?’ until Geralt investigates to determine what it is. These then change to icons that include: Side-missions, fast travel points, dungeon entrances,vendors and side-tasks.
There are a few cool things you can do with the world maps to increase your efficiency at travelling around in-game:
During quests you’ll receive objective markers that act as waypoints showing you exactly where you need to go to continue your quest. On the world map you can also set your own custom waypoint which will appear on the mini-map when you return to regular gameplay. You can then follow said waypoint to any destination of your choice.
Whilst waypoints are active, a white dotted trail will appear on the world map, giving you the quickest route to your destination. A small footprint icon will also appear by the mini-map with a number indicating your distance from the waypoint and arrows beside it telling you if it above or below your current position.
As you explore the world you’ll find fast travel signposts. As you ride or walk past them, they will be added to your wold map. By approaching one of these and interacting with it, you are able instantly select and travel to any previously discovered destination on the map where you have unlocked a fast travel point.
You can summon Geralt’s faithful horse, Roach at any time on the world map. Riding him around is much faster than Geralt’s standard walking pace! If you get bored with him, you can use Geralt’s AXII sign on wild horses to temporarily tame and ride them around!
The horse has three speeds:
- Walking – The slowest speed, but the most manoeuvrable.
- Canter – Hold down the run button and the horse will canter at a faster pace.
- Gallop – tap and then hold down the run button to gallop. This is the fastest setting.
A useful, yet unexplained feature of the horses is autopilot. If you hold the run button down to canter whilst on a road and do not touch the directional sticks, your horse will automatically run along the road you are on as if it were stuck there with glue – it may not always take the route you want at crossroads or forks though!
Whilst riding a horse, a Stamina meter will appear at the bottom of the screen. By tapping and then holding the run button, the horse will break into a gallop which will slowly consume the stamina bar. Once the bar is empty, the horse will revert to a walk until some of the Stamina is recharged.
Note: Finding and equipping different saddles can increase Roach’s total Stamina.
In addition to stamina, the horses also have a spook meter. If you get too close to enemies whilst on horseback and cannot escape the area quickly enough, the horse will get spooked, rear back and Geralt will fall to the ground. So avoid enemies!
You’ll find numerous sailboats scattered about the waterways of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. These can be used to quickly traverse bodies of water in a much quicker fashion than Geralt’s normal swimming pace. To sail a boat, Geralt needs to hop on board and interact with the rear of the vessel.
In general boats have three speeds:
- Slow – The slowest speed, but the most manoeuvrable.
- Fast – Hold down the run button and the boat will accelerate.
Once in a boat, you’ll be able to make out a silhouette of the boat located on the left side of the screen beneath Geralt’s health bar (and other gauges, meters and bars of course). This starts off as white, indicating that there is no damage. Bumping into rocks or having enemies hit you can damage the boat. Damaged portions of the boat will be shown in red. If the boat takes too much damage it will sink and you’ll be left with no option but to swim to shore.
Gathering Experience and Levelling Up
As per your standard RPG experience players will earn experience points (XP) which can be accumulated to earn levels. Upon levelling, Geralt will be given a small boost to his base attributes and unlock a skill point. Skill points can then be invested in one of dour skill trees to unlock enhanced abilities, alternate attack types and some general stat bonuses.
In the Witcher 3 you’ll gain XP via the following:
- Killing enemies,
- Progressing through story events
- Completing secondary-quests and Witcher Contracts.
- Completing side-tasks such as: Abandoned Settlements.
- Using AXII during conversations.
- Bribe people during conversations.
When you gain a level, you can use the opportunity to enhance Geralt’s abilities. Within the character menu, you have the ability to peruse four skill trees and are able to purchase abilities (or ranks of abilities) by investing Skill Points. As is to be expected, the XP required to reach subsequent levels will increase as Geralt moves through the levels. The breakdown of XP required for certain levels is as such:
- Level 1 to Level 10 – 1,000XP per level.
- Level 11 – Level 20 – 1,500XP per level.
- Level 21 and onwards – 2,000XP per level.
At this point, the level cap for Geralt is level 70. This is only obtainable after completing the game and importing your save into New Game Plus mode.
Skill Points and Skill Trees
The majority of Skill Points will be earned as a reward for when Geralt earns sufficient XP to level up, however you’ll also be able to obtain a single Skill Point each time you discover and using a Place of Power for the first time – so stay on the lookout for those as you explore the world!
As most RPG gamers might have guessed, these Skill Points can then be invested to unlock new abilities for Geralt in one of four Skill Trees. There are three main Skill Trees available to Geralt in The Witcher III: Wild Hunt and a fourth more broadly focused ‘General Skills’ Skill Tree. The Skill Trees include:
- Combat Skills – This Skill Tree is dedicated to improving Geralt’s melee and ranged combat by adding additional maneuvers and increasing damage. It also helps his general hardiness in combat with abilities to increase armor and health. Abilities in this Skill Tree will provide a passive bonus towards Adrenaline Point gain.
- Signs – The Signs Skill Tree focuses on signs and investing points in here will increase the effectiveness, improve duration or add additional functionality to each of Geralt’s five signs: AARD, AXII, IGNI, QUEN and YRDEN. Abilities in this Skill Tree will provide a passive bonus towards Stamina regeneration in combat.
- Alchemy – The Alchemy Skill Tree focuses on improving the effectiveness of Bombs, Potions and Oils. It also features abilities to reduce the Toxicity levels of Potions and allows Geralt increased Toxicity tolerance, whilst also allowing him to reduce Toxicity quicker. Abilities in this Skill Tree will provide a passive bonus towards Potion Duration time.
- General Skills – The General Skill Tree is half the size of the other three Skill Trees and offers an assortment of useful abilities. These include boosts to Health/Armour, a minor health regeneration perk as well as bonuses to the crossbow and Adrenaline generation.
Mutagens are a special form of equippable item that is dropped by monsters you kill. There are three main levels of Mutagens:
- Lesser Mutagens – These are dropped by the standard, common monster enemies.
- Mutagens – These can be crafted using Alchemy by combining three Mutagens of a specific type.
- Greater Mutagens – Dropped by more unique creatures or challenging boss monsters (almost all Witcher Contracts will net you specific Greater Mutagen types).
Mutagens can be used in a couple of different ways, either by providing passive bonuses to increase Geralts base stats for particular elements of gameplay, or as the core ingredient in the game’s powerful Decoctions.
Mutagens for Passive Bonuses
In the Character Development section of the main menu, in addition to Skill Trees to spend your hard-earned Skill Points on, you can also apply Mutagens to Geralt for some passive bonuses.
Mutagens come in three different colours, each of which is associated with one of Geralt’s more common gameplay attributes. Equipped Mutagens will provide a bonus towards the attribute which will increase with the level of Mutagen used, essentially the bonuses for Greater Mutagens are larger than those of Lesser Mutagens. The colours of Mutagens and their effects when equipped include:
- Red Mutagens increase attack power by +5% (Lesser), +7% (Normal) or +10% (Greater).
- Green Mutagens increase Vitality by +50 (Lesser), +100 (Normal) or +150 (Greater).
- Blue Mutagens increase Sign intensity by +5% (Lesser), +7% (Normal) or +10% (Greater).
There are four Mutagen slots in total with one unlocking after every seven character levels. The fourth and final slot is unlocked once Geralt reaches character level 28.
Note: Inserting a Mutagen into all four slots will unlock the achievement/trophy ‘Mutant’.
Mutagens for Crafting Decoctions
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt’s Decoctions are very powerful versions of potions with much more potent effects. Their recipes often call for specific Greater Mutagens, which will only drop from specific unique or powerful monsters (usually from bosses or Witcher Contracts) once they have been killed.
This walkthrough will provide you with the easiest, fastest route from beginning to the end of the campaign quest line, mentioning places to visit, times at which you need to complete various side-quests and contracts and will *gulp* attempt to cover all variations in storyline and gameplay caused by decisions made in-game.
Note: Due to the size and complexity of the game and the numerous points at which decisions can be made, it may not be possible for me to capture every alteration that occurs. If you find something missing, please let me know!
To fast travel to a chapter, go to the table of contents over to the right and use the hyperlinks to jump down to where you want to go in a flash. A complete list of each side-mission, Witcher Contract and their locations as well as a complete Gwent and card locations guide and achievement/trophy guide can also be located in the relevant spots below the walkthrough in the guide below.
Please note, this guide will most likely contain some very,very, very minor spoilers if you read too far ahead, but I have done my utmost to keep things as vague as possible.
Kaer Morhen (Tutorial)
Note: You will only play this quest if you select to play the tutorial from the new game menu.
Following the opening cut-scenes, you’ll find yourself in a bed chamber in the Witcher stronghold of Kaer Morhen. Our first order of business is to find the key to open the door so that we can leave.
To do this, the game has us activate Witcher Sense mode. In this vision mode, items of interest are highlighted in red, whilst lootable objects are highlighted orange. Activate Witcher Sense and explore the room. You’ll be able to inspect the following:
- Clothes on the bed.
- Box of silver jewellery on a bookshelf.
- Pitcher of juice on the small table.
- Perfume bottle on a bookshelf near the door.
- Key to the door on the table by the door.
Unlock the door and head down the stairs into the room below for a pair of conversations. During the second conversation, you’ll be given the option to “Run the Walls” which you can do for a short tutorial on movement.
If you choose to run the walls, you’ll need to climb the ladder ahead, practice climbing up a series of ledges and then traverse the platforms and ledges down to the courtyard below. As you progress, be careful to cross the gap using the wooden platform on the left and try not to jump off the ledges here – you don’t want to die in the tutorial!
When you reach the ground level race up to the objective marker for a scene. After the conversation, you’ll be given the choice of going through the basic tutorial or skipping to free practice. I’d recommend going through the basics on your first playthrough to familiarise yourself with the game’s melee combat and magic systems.
Once you are done with the training, a scene will play to end the tutorial.
Lilac and Gooseberries
This quest will begin with a conversation with Visemir and as soon as your little chat draws to an end, you’ll be set upon by a group of ghouls.
There are five Ghouls that you will need to dispatch in total and fortunately only one or two will attack you at a time. Use this fight to practice your dodge/roll manoeuvres and attack them when you see an opening.
Note: for killing all the ghouls you’ll earn 250XP.
Following the fight, move down the road to the west a short distance and look out for a Crystal Skull quest item in the shrubs, just to the right of the road – use your Witcher Sense to locate it easily.
When you are ready to go, mount your horse which happens to be located nearby and follow Visemir. You should unlock the Crossroads and Ransacked Village fast travel markers as you go. Eventually, a scene will play.
Afterwards, ride into the town ahead. You can approach the tavern here for a scene that will proceed with the quest.
During this dialogue, the game will give you a brief tutorial on dialogue options and will also encourage you to use the shop icon. This too will give you a brief introduction to how to use shops in the game.
When you regain control of Geralt, we’ll now need to play with our conversation skills. There are three objective markers in the tavern here and we’ll need to chat with each of the indicated people to continue.
You can speak to the following people:
- The peasants at the nearby table. Note that if you use your AXII sign to glean some information from them, you’ll net yourself 25XP.
- The Scholar at the table closest to the bar. As you exit the conversation, he’ll introduce you to the card game Gwent. Play him to activate the tutorial and unlock it for playing elsewhere in the world.
- Gaunter O’Dim by the door. He’ll give you the information you require to update your objectives.
Now that we have a new objective, we can leave the tavern. As you do however, a short scene will play and you’ll be attacked by the ruffians we bumped into earlier. Make sure you use your AXII sign during the conversation – this will reduce their numbers by one and give you 25XP as well.
You’ll need to fight the pair of remaining thugs in hand to hand combat. Keep your guard up and use your counters and follow up attacks to knock them down.
Note: for knocking out the thugs you’ll earn 350XP.
At this point, you can head up to the notice board nearby. Grab the notices off the board to pick up the following side-quests:
- Contract: Devil by the Well
- Missing in Action
Now we’ll have to make our way to the Nilfgaardian outpost to the north. When you arrive at the garrison, speak with the guards before entering the gate. Make your way over to the tower nearby to speak with their leader.
This will funnel you into the next quest ‘The Beast of White Orchard’, which you are required to complete before completing this one.
The Beast of White Orchard
This quest starts with two leads: We’ll need to speak with a herbalist and to a hunter. Both are fairly close together, but if you are riding from the garrison, the herbalist is closer, so let’s visit her first.
Part 1: The Herbalist
Enter the herbalist’s hut and ask her where to find Buckthorn. She’ll tell you where to look and you’ll receive a new objective marker on your map. Whilst you are here, you should also enquire as to the woman on the bed nearby. This will give you a short side-quest ‘On Death’s Bed’ which encourages you to craft a Swallow Potion.
Note: Before moving too far I would definitely recommend using alchemy to craft the Swallow Potion. This is the most effective healing item you will have for quite a while. The ingredients include:
- Drowner Brains which you can obtain from Drowners along the river banks or in the swamp near the Nilfgaardian garrison.
- Celadine which can be looted from a plant with small yellow flowers (there are a lot of these around the outskirts of the main settlement)
- Dwarven Spirits which can be purchased from the innkeeper or merchants.
Once you have all of the required reagents, open the Alchemy menu and craft the potion. Once you have the potion, return to the Herbalist and let her know that it is ready.
Ride over to the marker and enter the water. Within the search area, dive underwater and use your Witcher Sense to find the lootable plants down here. Looting said plants will have Geralt acquire the Buckthorn required.
Part 2: The Hunter
Make your way to the hunter’s hut and knock on the door – no one’s home! Activate your Witcher Sense and look at the road in front of the house to find a set of footprints. Follow these a short distance until you find the hunter.
After a brief conversation agree to help him with his problem. Continue after him until you find the pack of stray dogs.
There are four dogs in the pack and as they act in similar ways to several other enemy types you’ll encounter later in the game, you should be able to get some practice in on dodging their leaps and lunges. Once all four are dead move over to talk with the hunter.
Note: For killing the dogs you’ll earn 350XP.
Follow the hunter for another brief walk until you reach the site of interest.
Activate Witcher Sense and explore the area. You’ll be able to inspect the following:
- Bloodstains on the road.
- Campfire on the side of the road.
- Bottles by the campfire.
- Footprints at the southern edge of the search area.
Follow the prints south until you reach the broken bridge. There are a couple of chests to loot in the gully below it if you are interested, but our real goal is on the far side. Jump to the other side of the broken bridge. Activate the Witcher Sense again and follow the trail to the left, climb the ledge here.
Make your way to the top of the hill nearby by following the foot prints to find the Griffin’s nest. Here you’ll want to activate Witcher Sense again and explore the area. You’ll be able to inspect the following:
- Corpse by the Griffin.
- Bones by the corpse.
- The Griffin’s nest.
- The Griffin’s body – Examine Wounds, Age and Type.
Note: For examining the Griffin’s corpse you’ll earn 500XP.
Loot the nest and the soldier nearby (he’s got a better sword than what you have!).
Return to the tavern where your mate is waiting for you. Let him know that you have accepted the contract for the Griffin and the outcomes of the hunter and herbalist side-quests. Our objectives will then be updated.
At this point the game asks you to create a Thunderbolt Potion. It will also run you through a short tutorial on how to create and equip said potion.
Part 3: The Griffin
Once you have done that, hop on your horse and ride over to meet your friend in the field nearby for a conversation. During the scene you’ll be handed a Crossbow and immediately upon conclusion of the scene, you’ll get to use it!
The Griffin can be tricky at first for a number of reasons. Initially it will attack from the ground and has quite a large area of attack due to its wings being able to perform sweeping moves. Additionally, it can jump in the air and dive bomb your position and use its beak to lunge at you. Whilst not on the ground, the Griffin will take to the air and swoop you at regular intervals.
The easiest way to take it down quickly is to hit it with crossbow bolts whilst it is flying to bring it crashing to the ground – run up and smash it a few times and then use your dodges and rolls to avoid its ground-based attacks whilst dishing out your own attacks when you see an opening. Repeat this process.
Once its health is at about 40%, the Griffin will fly off. It will land by the windmill to the north. You can use your Witcher Sense to keep an eye on it (look for the pulsating red ripple). When you arrive at the windmill, proceed with the same tactics as advised earlier to finish it off.
After depleting its health, a scene will play. Following the conversation, loot the Griffin and make your way back to the Nilfgaardian Garrison. Turn in the quest to the commander to complete the quest.
Note: For handing in the quest you’ll earn 350XP. By accepting the commander’s offer you’ll also earn 150 Crowns.
Side-Questing 1 (Optional)
Before you continue with handing in the quest ‘The Incident at White Orchard’, it is a good idea to go and complete some side-quests. There are some side-quests that will be automatically failed if you do not complete them before proceeding with the story. These fail-able quests include:
When you are ready to continue, proceed with the walkthrough!
The Incident at White Orchard
Now that we are all done in White Orchard, return to the tavern in the main settlement to speak with your buddy. As you do a scene will play.
No matter your decisions during the conversation, as soon as the scene ends, you will be attacked by a group of 4-5 Thugs. Fortunately, they are not too difficult if you have been practicing your blocking and mixing melee attacks up with IGNI, AARD or AXXI signs.
Once the lot of them have fallen, another scene will play to end the quest.
Note: For killing the thugs you’ll earn 350XP.
Note: Completing this quest will also complete the ‘Lilac and Gooseberries’ quest.
Note: At this point you’ll earn the trophy/achievement ‘Lilac and Gooseberries’.
Following the scene showing our escape from White Orchard, Geralt will find himself in the city of Vizima. After a short conversation, a man will enter and ask some questions.
This fellow is interviewing you about previous events choices that you could have made during The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (or allowing you to import your choices without a save file for PS4/Xbox One players). He is in fact is setting your world state for you. The questions include the following:
- Did you Kill Aryan or Spare his life during the siege?
- Did you team up with Vernon Roche or Iorveth?
- Did you save Triss or help Iorveth/Vernon Roche?
- Did you warn Sile or let her die?
- Did you kill Letho, or let him live?
Following the interview, you’ll need to listen to the chamberlain and follow his instructions. Pick a set of clothes (or all of them) and then enter the menu, scroll to the inventory and equip a set of boots, a shirt and some pants.
Once dressed, speak with the chamberlain and after a brief bit of bowing practice he will walk off. Follow him from the chamber and through the hallway until a scene plays during which you can decide to:
- Bow to the Emperor
- Not bow to the Emperor
As far as I can tell, neither choice has any effect on the game other than a few pieces of dialogue.
Following the scene, the Chamberlain will lead you to Yennefer who will fill you in on what she knows and update your objectives.
After the scene, we’ll need to leave. In the room adjacent to Yennefer’s, you can speak to Ambassador var Attre who will fill you in on a bit of back story as to what is happening in the grander scheme of things if you are interested in the world, its setting and a bit of sexy backstory. When you are ready, exit the door to retrieve your belongings.
In the courtyard here there is a Nilfgaardian Nobleman sitting on a bench who you can play at Gwent – he’s pretty tough though, so it will take a lot of practice or a better deck to beat him – keep him in mind and be sure to come back and challenge him when you get the chance!
Follow the objective marker to the exit to use fast travel to leave the city and travel to Hang Man’s Tree in Velen to complete the quest.
Act 1 Walkthrough
In Ciri’s Footsteps
This is the main quest for the next fairly lengthy portion of the game. It covers three main underlying quest chains which will have Geralt explore all corners of the world map.
Upon leaving Vizima, these quest lines will have now become available. They include the starting quests:
- The Nilfgaardian Connection
- Pyres of Novigrad
- Destination: Skellege
As ‘The Nilfgaardian Connection’ is close by and also happens to be the only quest close to our current level, it is also our first stop on Geralt’s Witcher 3 world tour!
The Nilfgaardian Connection
Now that we’re officially in Velen, have a look at the map to see the sheer size of it – it’s absolutely enormous! You’ll also note that there is a new objective marker over to the west at the Crossroads, so make your way over there.
Note: On the bank of the river directly across from the quest marker, you’ll find a man who is tied up and being attacked by Drowners. After killing them, you can release him for 25XP. This will also unlock another short scene later.
Upon arriving at your destination, enter the inn marked with the yellow quest zone. Inside, speak with the innkeeper for a scene, during which you’ll have to make a choice between three different options which will impact on the next mission:
- “Back off or Die“ – This will start a fight and you’ll need to kill the guards. You will be unable to enter the Crow’s Perch area in the next mission through the main areas, instead having to find an alternate route in.
- “I’m a Witcher“ – This will cause the guards to settle down and they will allow you into the Crow’s Perch area for a fee in the next mission.
- “Care for a Drink?“ – This will cause the guards to settle down and allow you into the Crow’s Perch area free of charge in the next mission.
Either way you choose to proceed once you are done the innkeeper will chat with you again and update your objectives. Exit the inn.
Note: If you attacked the guards inside, there will be another three waiting for you outside whom you will need to dispatch.
Ride over to the new objective marker at Heatherton. As you arrive you’ll find a NPC trying to hold three feral dogs at bay. You will need to help him out by killing the dogs. Once they are dead, this will start a conversation.
Following the conversation, enter the hut nearby. Activate Witcher Sense and explore the area. You’ll be able to inspect the following:
- The body on the floor. Boots can be searched for a Key.
- The rug on the floor in the right hand room to reveal a secret passage.
Once you have found the passage, climb down to the basement. Again, hit your Witcher Sense to examine:
- The torch on the wall to reveal a hidden wall panel.
- The book in the chest behind the now open wall panel.
Examining all four entries present in the ledger in the chest will complete the quest.
Note: For reading the ledger you’ll earn 100XP.
At this point, you will unlock two new quests:
- Bloody Baron
- Hunting a Witch
Both of these lead to quest lines, both of which can be undertaken immediately. I should mention however that I found the ‘Bloody Baron’ quest line to be much easier for this early on in the game than ‘Hunting a Witch’, especially if you haven’t quite settled into the combat as yet as there is a tricky fight or two.
The developers must have also thought similarly as the ‘Bloody Baron’ is set as your next default ques. As such, I’ve written the walkthrough by completing the ‘Bloody Baron’ quests first.
This quest requires that we ride over to Crow’s Perch and pay the baron a visit. Unfortunately, depending on choices made in the previous quest, this can be harder than it needs to be.
Once you have arrived at Crow’s Perch, use the bridge to access the settlement. Have a look around if you wish, before heading to the east, through the first gate and working your way up the hill to the main gate to the keep.
Note: If you attacked the bandits in the inn in the previous quest, all of the villagers will run away from you and a pair of guards will stand by the first gate and attack.
After arriving at the closed gate, the guards on the other side will spark up a conversation and depending on what you said to the bandits in the previous mission will come into play. Here are the consequences of your conversation choices:
- “Back off or Die“ – The guards will not let you in at all and you’ll need to find an alternate route.
- “I’m a Witcher“ – The guards will allow you into the keep area for 15 Crowns.
- “Care for a Drink?“ – The guards will allow you into the keep.
Depending on your previous choices, there are two walkthroughs below. Choose the one relevant to your circumstances:
Option 1 – Allowed Entry
If you choose either of the second two options, you’ll be let into the keep and the sergeant will escort you through the open area here, into the keep and straight to the Baron. At this point, speak with him and after the conversation, the mission will be complete.
Now that we are done here, head down to the next quest: ‘Ciri’s Story: The King of Wolves‘.
Option 2 – Denied Entry
If you decided to kill his bandits during the previous mission, we can still get in to meet the baron, we just need to do a little bit more work.
To begin, we’ll need to backtrack to the main town area of Crow’s Perch. Here you’ll find a sole NPC sitting on a barrel in the middle of the area. Speak with him and for 15 Crowns, he’ll reveal another way into the castle.
Note: for handing over the Crowns you’ll earn 1XP.
Exit Crow’s Perch and turn right, follow the main road leading around the moat here until you find a small shrine on the side of the road (it’s just across the river from the northwest corner of Crow’s Perch). From here, run down into the moat and examine the cliff opposite the shrine. We can dive under this to find a hidden tunnel.
Move through the tunnel until you bump into a Water Hag. Kill this and then explore the pool of water she emerged from and the small cave. There are some lootable objects in and out of the water here and amongst the goodies you’ll find Formula: Vermillion and Torn-out Page Cockatrice Decoction and Torn-out Page Basilisk Decoction.
Look for the ledge that you can climb opposite the pool and follow the path at the top all the way to the top to find a ladder. Climb this to exit into the keep area. A scene will play. Following the conversation with the Baron, the quest will be completed.
Ciri’s Story: The King of Wolves
When you regain control, you’ll be piloting Ciri. This is your first of many short sub-adventures that you’ll have in her shoes. She controls a little differently to Geralt and has slightly different abilities. As such she is unable to access the inventory or use the magical signs or Witcher Sense like Geralt can. On the other hand she can automatically regenerate health, which is super handy!
Ciri has the same standard quick and heavy attacks as Geralt as well as dodge and roll moves that will get her out of trouble. Later in the game, she’ll develop some other powers as well, but for now we’re just stuck with the standard melee.
To begin her section, move up and kill the three Wolves ahead. Use the fight to familiarise yourself with her dodge and rolls as they have a little more reach than Geralt’s do. Killing them will initiate a cut-scene.
We now need to follow the little girl. She’ll lead us through a fairly linear stretch of swamp and we’ll soon need to stop and fight off a group of six Wolves. Due to the large number, you are going to want to try and monitor the position of all of them and be prepared to attempt hit and run tactics whilst being ready to roll pretty much constantly until you get the numbers down a little and you can focus on individuals.
Shortly after the fight, we’ll encounter another scene during which Ciri will examine a body, have a look at all of the options and then choose the ‘Summing up..’ option to continue.
Follow Gretka once more and keep an eye on your mini-map. You’ll want to loot all of the herbs that you come across as you go. When we reach the next clearing, you’ll need to defend yourself against another five Wolves.
Once the area is clear, look for a dead dog that Ciri can inspect on the far side of the clearing from where we entered. Loot the remaining herbs in the area and a scene will play.
The child will now lead you to a cave in which you will need to fight the King of Wolves.