How often have you completed a TV show, book, or video game and felt somewhat hollow? Suddenly, the world you had immersed yourself in for several hours has ended, the feelings it generated within you ceasing as lines of text scroll across the screen or as you read the publisher’s notes. This empty feeling is something we all feel when we have truly connected with a piece of content. In many ways, it is how we know that we truly loved the story and the characters therein.
Lately, my focus in gaming has centered around single-player, story-driven works that leave me with such a feeling; however, no matter how many games I play, the sense of emptiness I felt after completing the Witcher 3 has not been rivaled. The game had practically taken over my life for two weeks after its initial release, so when I quickly finished the main campaign, I was hungry for more.
Thankfully, unlike many great TV shows and books, the community at large and I knew from very early on in this game’s life cycle that DLCs were part of the developer’s plans. So, after the game won countless awards upon release and sales skyrocketed like anything the publisher of the title had ever seen, I knew it wouldn’t be long until I got my hands on some more content.
Eventually, after what felt like a lifetime, the developers began publishing extra content; however, these initial bursts were merely one-off contracts or armor sets, nothing akin to a real, fully-fledged DLC. Thankfully though, the DLCs I had been waiting for eventually arrived. To my delight, these two proper DLCs were not only fully fledged but also the size of any other normal game, giving me many more hours of fun within this universe.
So, with all this being said, why don’t we jump right into these DLCs and explore some of the extra content that the developers over at CD Projekt Red created for us dedicated fans? Let’s go!
Hearts of Stone
The first fully-fledged expansion pack released for The Witcher 3 was named Hearts of Stone and was released way back in the glory days of October 2015, when the world was seemingly okay and not veering off of a steep cliff. This first piece of extra content added a great deal of material into the game, expanding the overall playtime of the title substantially, creating an even more monolithic feat for newcomers to battle with.
Beginning the DLC
To kick off this extra piece of content, the player can do one of three things; you can either click on the Hearts of Stone expansion icon in the start menu; this will launch you into the game with a new-to-you, level 32 Geralt of Rivia, immediately beginning the main quest of the DLC.
Alternatively, the player can launch one of their current saves or start a new game as a totally fresh Geralt. Either of these options will see the player travel to the Seven Cats Inn to begin the main quest of this DLC. the player should be able to easily find this location by selecting the quest in their journal.
While the player can begin this quest at any level after installing the DLC, the developers do recommend the player character to be at least level 30 before doing so; however, as a general rule, you can usually knock off five levels from any Witcher 3 level advisory. This means that any talented Witcher at level 25 and above should have no difficulty enjoying this DLC.
Once the player successfully arrives at the Seven Cats Inn, they should head over to the notice board outside and find a contract hanging there that directs them to a man named Olgierd von Everec. Doing this will officially begin the first quest of the DLC, “Evil’s Soft First Touches.”
Evil’s Soft First Touches
When you begin this quest, the Witcher will be directed to the home of von Everec. Once there, the Witcher will be immediately confronted by two of his friends or service people. These two will insult the player and their Witcher appearance. These insults and mocking jibes will allow the player to choose whether or not to respond. Should the player respond with their own mocking remarks, prepare for a round of fisticuffs. Should the player win or lose, the quest will continue anyway; however, for your pride and the honor of the Witcher name, you should pummel these idiots.
After these men are dealt with, the game will progress the player towards Olgierd, a man who may seem inconsequential at first, but will later become one of the most interesting characters in the entire game, never mind the DLC.
After a brief talk with this scarred and severe man, the Witcher will come away with one simple task, deal with whatever it was that killed his cook some weeks ago in the sewers beneath Oxenfurt.
If you are smart, make sure to haggle with Olgierd before leaving; doing so will grant the player up to 450 crowns for the quest. This will bring the dialogue between Olgierd and the Witcher to an end; however, before leaving, the player will be confronted by Adela, a woman bearing a side quest for Geralt should he be so inclined; however, for now, we are going to stick to the main quest.
Geralt’s Trip to the Sewers
After your conversation with Olgierd, it is clear to Geralt that whatever monster killed his cook, they will most likely still be hiding in the sewers, using the vast underground network to stay hidden and pick off victims slowly over time. Personally, I thought the monster may have been a drowner at first, so I prepared myself for a rather easy day, Igni sign and silver sword ready.
However, as soon as the player drops down into the sewer and uses their Witcher sense, you will be able to see that all is not right. The sheer amount of footprints visible to the Witcher’s keen eyes tell a story of something far more dangerous than a mere drowner. After this, the player must advance down the sewer tunnels until they encounter a woman named Shani. You will stumble across her as she attempts to save the life of a young soldier. However, he has already passed, and her efforts are useless. To protect her, Geralt assures her of the man’s death and ushers her out of the sewers. She will refuse Geralt’s offer, insisting on staying and helping resolve the situation. The pair then decide to team up with Shani acting as Geralt’s guide through the snaking labyrinth.
After some time, my prediction was proven somewhat right as you will come across drowners within the sewer. However, these are not the worst things lurking about in the tunnels. The player must quickly deal with these creatures and then continue advancing with Shani. Once you have finished your hacking and slashing, the player will find empty bottles of alcohol scattered around the place; this will tell the Witcher that the creature is fond of alcohol, which will be important later.
A little more walking will then bring the pair to what seems like a lair; here, a cutscene will begin, and Geralt will cover one of the nearby bodies in alcohol in the hopes of luring out the creature from hiding.
The Frog Prince
As a Polish fairy tale inspires this entire DLC, it is only fitting that the main boss of the first mission is a frog prince; after all, what is more fitting in the Witcher cannon than hacking and slashing your way through a big magical frog?
After the monster is lured out into the open, the cutscene will end, and the battle will commence. This battle, while difficult, should be easy for most experienced Witchers; however, you should focus on using your Yrden sign to help pin down the frog and stop him from hopping to and fro. This will allow you to get in a couple of easy hits from time to time.
Eventually, with the creature’s health falling below 5%, another cutscene will play wherein the frog’s midsection is sliced open by the player, releasing a toxic substance all over the Witcher. This cut and the substance it releases will not only render the player unconscious but also revert whatever curse had been placed on the frog prince, reverting him back into Prince Sirvat of Ofir. Eventually, the pair will be left lying on the ground, one dead and one unconscious, for the guards to eventually find.
Upon waking, the player will find themselves in a jail cell, having been placed there by the soldiers. Apparently, the soldiers who now hold the player had sworn an oath to their king, upon their honor, to return their prince safely; however, Geralt had made sure that was impossible, and so they had decided to execute the Witcher as punishment.
However, before any head taking action can be made, Geralt meets with the mysterious Gaunter O’Dimm. O’Dimm will offer to help the Witcher escape in return for a favor of his own choosing. Of course, the player doesn’t really have a choice at this point, so you must agree.
Freedom and Truth
After the mysterious man holds true to his side of the bargain and rescues the Witcher from his captivity, he tells the player the truth of his ordeal and how he ended up in the hands of those soldiers. You see, it appears that von Everec knew who the frog really was and what punishment lay before anyone who managed to slay the beast.
O’Dimm will then continue by tasking the Witcher with recovering a debt for him from the man who has seemingly betrayed both men, von Everec. Soon after this, the ship that was transporting Geralt to the island of Ofri for execution crashed, giving the Witcher the perfect opportunity to escape.
Confronting von Everec
After your escape, you can probably imagine where Geralt will immediately want to head. So, without delay, the player must head back to von Everec and confront the man who so coldly sent you to your death.
When you finally find the man, the look on his face will not be one of shock; instead, he almost seems to have expected your survival. This little piece of non-verbal dialogue is easily missed but displays just how carefully crafted the narratives are in this game.
After you confront him, he will tell the Witcher about the wishes he already made and those three he still has outstanding. Firstly, he will tell the player that he cursed the prince of Ofri because he was arranged to marry the woman that he loved, Iris. Then, he will talk about his next wish, one of immortality that he planned to use to spend as much time as possible with Iris. However, this immortality came at the price of his emotions, rendering him incapable of feeling and giving him a ‘Heart of Stone.’
As mentioned by O’Dimm, the player will hear about the three outstanding wishes they must fulfill for von Everec in return for being saved by O’Dimm. Everec will tell the player that you must entertain his brother Vlodimir for one night, get revenge on the Borsodi family by obtaining Maximillian Borsodi’s house, and get the violet rose he had originally given to Iris.
On the surface, these requests may seem a little bit under the station of a Witcher such as Geralt. However, Everec soon assuages these doubts by ensuring that all of the wishes are impossible. Everec’s brother Vlodimir and Iris have been dead for some time now, and Maximilian Bordosi’s house is kept under strict lock and key.
Dead Man’s Party and So On
To complete the first of the wishes outlined for the player, O’Dimm once again appears and uses his immense magic to summon the spirit of Vlodimir. With the spirit summoned, Geralt allows him to take possession of his body. The dead brother then uses his one night of freedom to attend a wedding party, thus completing the first wish.
Next, the player must participate in a heist to steal the deed to the Bardosi family mansion from their secure vault. Doing this will allow the player to find a writ wherein the entire estate, including the house, will be given to charity upon the patriarch’s death. The reveal of said deed, therefore, completed the second wish.
The third wish is a little more complicated and requires Geralt to engage with some unsavory characters in the form of two demonic entities. With the help of these creatures, Geralt gains access to Iris’ history. This allows Geralt to find the rose, an item he can either use to free the trapped spirit of Iris or return to Everec; either way, the last wish will be fulfilled.
O’Dimm, Oh Damm!
After this last wish is completed, it is revealed that O’Dimm is actually a being of pure evil who enjoys tricking humans into making wishes in return for their souls. Therefore, when the third wish is completed, O’Dimm returns to Everec for his’ debt,’ which turns out to be his soul.
Here, the player can choose to let O’Dimm take Everec’s soul or intervene. Choosing to do nothing will result in Everec’s death and O’Dimm granting the player one wish. The alternative option will see the player wager his own soul against O’Dimm as he challenges the entity. O’Dimm accepts this challenge and offers the Witcher a riddle as his challenge; getting this right will save both men. Doing this will see Everec reward the player with his family sword. Either way, this choice and the consequences of it will bring this DLCs main quest to a close.
Blood and Wine
The second and final full expansion pack for the Witcher 3 was launched in May 2016. This DLC sees Geralt travel to a new land named Toussaint, a location untouched by the Nilfgaardian Wars and therefore free from much of the turmoil said war has brought the common people. However, all is not as rosy as one might imagine, so a Witcher must travel to bring peace to the region.
This DLC adds 90 new quests into the game, 40 points of interest, and tons of new monsters, weapons, and characters. All of this culminates in a massive DLC that adds, on average, 30 hours of gameplay to the base game.
Beginning the DLC
It is recommended that you complete the base game of the Witcher 3 before you start his expansion pack. As before, you can select the pack on the main loading screen, and the game will throw you into the quest with a pre-leveled character, but as this DLC is set after the events of the main game, you will have the best experience should the base game already be completed.
With this in mind, you can start this DLC normally by meeting with the Dutchess Anna Henrietta’s emissaries. This dutchess will send the player a contract and an appeal, asking you to come to her Duchy to slay a beast that has been wreaking havoc and killing her subjects. After this, the player must accept the contract and travel to Toussaint to investigate the deaths of three knights of Toussaint.
Arriving on Toussaint
When the player finally arrives in Toussaint, a third knight will have already fallen victim to the beast you are there to slay. Therefore, the heat is turned up on the Witcher to get to work immediately.
After some investigating, Geralt discovers that all of these knights have, in some way or another, broken one of the five virtuates that all knights of Toussaint must live up to. This, therefore, appears to be the reason for their death. However, it does not square with the killings or the motivations of such a brutal beast in Geralt’s mind.
Later, Geralt witnesses the creature killing a fourth Toussaint knight and establishes that the creature is a powerful higher vampire. Finding the vampire in action, Geralt immediately springs into battle, exchanging attacks with the creature. Eventually, however, the battle is stopped by Regi, another Higher Vampire that Geralt calls friend. Regis stops the battle and forces the other vampire to escape.
Dettlaff the Pawn
After Geralt’s understandable anger towards the other vampire and his friend subsides, Regis talks to Geralt and explains what he knows of the situation. Regis explains that the vampire in question is called Dettlaff and that he is bound to him through the vampiric code. He further explains that Dettlaff would never act this way and that something else must be going on. The pair then decide to team up to get to the bottom of it all.
Eventually, the player learns that Dettlaff’s former lover has been kidnapped, using her to force the vampire to kill these knights. This revelation leaves the pair stunned. However, they do get a lead by following the tracks left behind by the woman’s captors. These tracks lead the player to Ducal Winery, wherein you get the name of a mysterious figure known only as the Cintrian.
On searching for this mysterious figure, the pair attend a royal ball hosted by the Dutchess. At this party, the Cintrian is caught as he tries to steal a jewel from a woman in attendance; he is got and subsequently killed before the Witcher can question him. However, the Dutchess examines the jewel and identifies it as a family heirloom. This revelation sees the Dutchess mention her sister, who was exiled some time ago due to being cursed.
Soon after, the player is given this lead, the body of the Cintrian is searched, and an old dagger is recovered. The Dutchess recognizes this dagger as originating from an old castle nearby.
An Odd Group
After getting this lead from the Dutchess, Geralt, Regis, and Dettlaff team up to search the castle grounds in the hopes of finding Dettlaff’s former lover; however, after getting to the castle, you will discover that the Dutchess’ sister and Dettlaff’s lover are the same people and that she faked her own kidnapping and planned the theft of the jewel. This revelation proves too much for Dettlaff, and he flies off in a rage, threatening to burn the capital of Toussaint unless Syanna/Rhenawedd met with him within three days to give him an explanation.
After this, the player returns to the Dutchess and explains the situation; however, she does not believe the Witcher and instead insists that Geralt cease looking for her sister, instead telling him to deal with Dettlaff as he is the beast the Witcher was tasked with killing.
As with any good game, the Blood and Wine expansion ensures that the player can decide their own path at this point. Here, Geralt can free Syanna so she can talk to Dettlaff, or you can find the vampire elder whom Dettlaff and Regis owe fealty to order Dettlaff to meet with Geralt.
Should the player opt to free Syanna, they must travel to the palace and enter the old playroom there that the sisters shared as children; inside, they will find a cursed old book wherein Syanna is trapped. Through this, you will learn that the knights of Toussaint were the ones who originally cursed Syanna and that they had abused her as a young girl. Alternatively, the player will simply find the old vampire and have him order Dettlaff’s return.
After this scene, many possible endings depending on your choices. Should the player have saved Syanna and the ribbon from inside the book, the happiest option will be available to the player, allowing you the opportunity to find that the last planned victim of Syanna’s revenge story was to be the Dutchess herself. Alternatively, should you have chosen not to rescue the ribbon, Dettlaff will kill Syanna, leaving the player and Regis with the task of deciding Dettlaff’s ultimate fate.
Lastly, should the player have sought out the older vampire master, there will be a simple final battle between the beast of Toussaint and the old friends, ending with the death of Dettlaff. At this point, bereft of any other options, Syanna will kill her sister herself, dying in the process. No matter what, should Dettlaff be killed, Regis will be branded a traitor by his people.
All Good Things Must End
Once this section of the main quest is completed, regardless of the outcome, the Witcher’s journey in Toussaint will be formally completed. However, this does not mean that you cannot remain and complete all of the varied side quests the developers have worked so hard on. However, the official ending to this DLC occurs here at the end of this quest, wherein a cutscene will show Geralt arriving at the vineyard estate he received as payment for helping in Toussaint, only to find one of several people waiting for the tired White Wolf.
The person waiting for the player entirely depends on the choices made during the base game. Should the player have romanced Triss or Yennefer, that character will appear. However, should you have romanced neither, Ciri will be waiting for you, and if you have romanced neither and Ciri did not survive the base game, the ever loyal Dandelion will be there to bring home the DLC for good.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How many DLCs does the Witcher have?
Answer: Two fully-fledged DLC are currently released for The Witcher 3. However, there are many minor pieces of additional content that change or add small things to the game, such as finishing animations or armor sets.
Question: How long is the Blood and Wine DLC for The Witcher?
Answer: On average, it will take most players over 30 hours to complete this DLC, including all of the side quests.
Question: At what level should I start the Blood and Wine expansion?
Answer: The game’s developers suggest the player be at least level 35 to start this DLC. However, you can usually knock five levels off of any developer recommendation for this game, so level 30 should suffice. That said, you should complete the main story before venturing to Toussaint to get the full cannon experience, and this means most players will already have far surpassed level 35 before crossing the seas.
So, there you have a brief overview of the two main DLCs currently released for The Witcher 3. These DLCs are not only incredibly well made and structured but also very long, with the Blood and Wine expansion demanding more gameplay hours than most standalone games. With this in mind, I cannot recommend these DLCs enough if you enjoyed the base Witcher game. They offer a return to the world I was craving and allow the player to see new areas and pieces of lore otherwise untouched in the base story.
With all this being said, however, I really do hope you enjoyed this guide and that it possibly helped you out of a tight spot or two. Either way, I wish you good luck and hope to see you again soon. Happy hunting!
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