GAME REVIEW

Blood and Wine has beauty, adventure

Blood and Wine, released on May 31, 2016, signals the last adventure of protagonist Geralt of Rivia. As the second and last expansion of The Witcher 3, the 50 hour downloadable content journey brings the famous witcher to Toussaint. Vibrantly colored with an almost fairy tale-like atmosphere, Toussaint provides a stark contrast to the murky swamplands of Velen in the base game. The White Wolf makes his way to this land of chivalry and knights to hunt a mysterious beast, on the request of its esteemed duchess.

Toussaint is breathtaking. Never have I seen such a vivid and appealing land in a video game. Modeled after southern France, the duchy certainly looks it with its numerous vineyards, knightly tournaments, and signature architecture. The skies are kissed with turquoise-blue and massive snowcapped mountains serve as the backdrop. Even the rivers are dyed a marine blue so crisp they look like they were carved today. Juxtaposed against this landscape is the capital city of Beauclair, nestling orange roofs atop colorful townhouses and the ivory-white Beauclair Palace.

After spending hundreds of hours adventuring across Temeria’s dark northern realms and the bucolic countryside of Novigrad, I was stunned when Geralt first rode into Toussaint on horseback. Joined by two knights and their steeds—both clad in armor—the witcher sees the region again for the first time in many, many years.

As the camera pans to reveal Beauclair, Baron Palmerin de Launfal introduces Toussaint as “the land of love and wine,” to which Geralt responds, “Exactly how I remembered it.” This is possible foreshadowing, as he encounters many people from his past, good and bad. For example, he finds his old friend Emiel Regis Rohellec Terzieff-Godefroy (or just Regis), a more than 400 year old powerful higher vampire. Another that he meets is The Lady of the Lake, the goddess of chivalry who blessed him with Aerondight, a legendary silver sword, nearly a decade prior.

Unbeknownst to him, Blood and Wine is the White Wolf’s final foray on The Path. During the first few quests of the expansion, Geralt is gifted the sprawling vineyard estate Corvo Bianco, with a few unexpected features and loyal majordomo Barnabas-Basil Foulty. Corvo Bianco is a fantastic place to call home; when fully furnished, the vineyard feels comforting and personal. I’ve lined the inside of the villa with Geralt’s grandmaster witcher armors whose diagrams I found all across Toussaint, and hung swords acquired from friends and foes alike. As nice as a beautiful estate is itself, it could always use company. And by the end of the game, you’re joined by someone you care deeply about (I’m a sucker for Yennifer).

Blood and Wine serves as a fitting conclusion for Geralt of Rivia. Through hundreds of hours, we have followed him through heartbreak and betrayal; bouts of compassion and euphoria. We have slayed the King of the Wild Hunt, parlayed with the Emperor of Nilfgaard, and even bested the Man of Glass, also known as evil incarnate. The witcher has loved many, fought many, and saved many. And now, he finally gets to live his life in rest and relaxation. I love this expansion: the backdrop, the adventure, the ending; all of it. In this way, we give our dearest character a teary-eyed farewell into retirement.