The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine
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|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine|
|Developer(s)||CD Projekt Red|
|Release||31 May 2016|
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine is the second and final expansion pack for the 2015 video game The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Developed by CD Projekt Red, Blood and Wine was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on 31 May 2016, later released for the Nintendo Switch on 15 October 2019. The expansion follows Geralt of Rivia as he travels to Toussaint, a duchy untouched by the war taking place in the base game, as he hopes to track down a mysterious beast terrorizing the region. The expansion received widespread acclaim from critics, winning a number of awards.
Set after the events of the base game, Geralt is offered a contract by Duchess Anna Henrietta, the ruler of Toussaint, a vassal duchy under the Nilfgaardian Empire famous for its vineyards and wine exports. Two knights of Toussaint had been murdered in strange circumstances, and Geralt is tasked with finding and killing the monster responsible.
Upon his arrival in Toussaint, Geralt investigates the murder of a third knight. With the help of Henrietta and Captain Damien de la Tour, the knight heading the investigations, Geralt discovers clues that suggest the knights were killed for violating the five virtues that all knights of Toussaint swear to uphold and that a fourth knight may be in danger. Geralt and the duchess then race to find the knight. Geralt arrives just in time to see the Beast killing the fourth knight, who had accompanied Geralt to Toussaint. Geralt chases the Beast, eventually cornering and battling him in a warehouse. Before either can kill the other, Regis, a higher vampire, and friend of Geralt, intervenes and convinces the Beast to leave. Regis, whom Geralt believed to be long dead from their past adventures, explains that the Beast is another higher vampire named Dettlaff. Regis was revived by Dettlaff after he was seemingly killed in battle, resulting in the fact that Regis is bonded to Dettlaff by blood according to their vampiric code.
Geralt joins forces with Regis to find out why Dettlaff is committing murders despite being indifferent towards human affairs, according to Regis. They brew a potion that enables Geralt to see certain visions of Dettlaff's memories, pointing them in the direction of a bootblack. Obtaining clues from the bootblack, Geralt and Regis discover Dettlaff's hideout, and Geralt finds evidence that Dettlaff is being blackmailed into the killings. Dettlaff’s former lover Rhenawedd had been kidnapped, and the kidnappers were forcing Dettlaff to murder the knights. Regis stays behind to wait for Dettlaff to return, while Geralt reports to Henrietta and de la Tour. From the wine stain on one of the pieces of paper the kidnappers sent Dettlaff naming his victims, Henrietta is able to identify the wine as one reserved solely for the ducal table. Geralt, Henrietta, and de la Tour visit the ducal winery, and its maker confesses to selling a barrel of the wine to a mysterious buyer. Learning that the buyer has arranged for another barrel, Geralt and de la Tour mount an ambush on the collection party. Geralt interrogates a captured member of the party, who divulges the identity of the mysterious buyer as the Cintrian.
Geralt and Henrietta go undercover at a soirée where The Cintrian was due to attend. Geralt discovers an attempt by the Cintrian to steal a jewel that was foiled. The owner of the residence hosting the soirée, Orianna, admits to catching The Cintrian red-handed and struggling with him, eventually throwing him out of a window and killing him. Henrietta identifies the jewel as a family heirloom, lost many years ago; Orianna reveals she bought it off a young woman. Geralt also recovers the knife The Cintrian used to attack Orianna, which Henrietta identifies as one belonging to the lord of a castle nearby. Geralt points out to Henrietta that the wine and jewel are both tied to the duchess intimately, leading to an attempt on her life, but Henrietta floats an alternative theory. She speculates that her long lost sister Syanna may be involved. Syanna had been exiled for supposedly being afflicted by the Curse of the Black Sun, a curse for girls born at the same time as a solar eclipse. Henrietta tasks Geralt to investigate the castle and find Syanna if she is there and return her unharmed. Regis unexpectedly shows up with Dettlaff in tow, announcing their intent to assist Geralt with finding the blackmailer.
De la Tour's men assault the castle while Geralt sneaks in through the back, fighting his way to the keep. Halfway through, he is joined by Regis and Dettlaff, the latter of whom is eager to recover Rhenawedd. Inside, they find Rhenawedd, but no sign of another woman. Geralt deduces that Syanna and Rhenawedd are the same person, who faked her own kidnapping and was also behind the sale of the ducal wine and the attempted theft of the jewel. Feeling betrayed, Dettlaff leaves in a rage, threatening to destroy Beauclair, the capital city of Toussaint, unless Syanna agrees to meet him for an explanation within three days. Geralt explains to Henrietta that Syanna was behind it all, but the duchess refuses to believe it. Upon learning that Dettlaff is the Beast, she demands Geralt track him down and kill him, while also refusing to bow to Dettlaff's threat.
Geralt has no luck locating Dettlaff in the next three days. While he and Regis report to the duchess, news reaches them of lesser vampires attacking the city. Geralt and Regis have two choices: free Syanna so she can talk to Dettlaff, or find the Unseen Elder who can force Dettlaff to appear before Geralt. If Geralt chooses to free Syanna, he and Regis find de la Tour in the city and convince him to tell them where Syanna is imprisoned. Geralt and Regis make their way to the palace's playroom, where they find an enchanted fairy tale book where the sisters used to play together as children. Geralt enters the book's world, named the Land of a Thousand Fables, locates Syanna, and returns with her to the real world. While in the Land of a Thousand Fables, Geralt has the option to retrieve a ribbon for Syanna. While there, Syanna also explains to Geralt her reason for murdering the knights – they were the ones who exiled her under orders, some of whom who also abused her during the journey. If Geralt opts to find the Unseen Elder, he talks to Orianna, who offers to tell him the way if he slays a vampire targeting an orphanage under her patronage. Geralt slays the vampire but also learns that Orianna is a higher vampire with a taste for the blood of the young children in the orphanage. Since Beauclair is under attack, Geralt leaves Orianna but threatens her that one day he will come for her and kill her. Geralt and Regis make their way to the Unseen Elder's lair, where after some difficulty, they persuade the Unseen Elder to recall Dettlaff.
At this point, several endings are possible. If Geralt opts to release Syanna from the fairy tale world, Geralt, Regis, and Syanna meet Dettlaff in Tesham Mutna. If Geralt retrieves the ribbon for Syanna, then it saves her from Dettlaff's killing blow. Then Geralt fights Dettlaff, with the help of Regis. Dettlaff subdues Regis before turning on Geralt, and the two fight. Geralt defeats Dettlaff after an exhausting battle. Since only a higher vampire can truly kill another higher vampire, Regis reluctantly kills Dettlaff. Geralt is to be awarded Toussaint's highest honor for slaying the Beast. Before he attends the ceremony, Geralt can choose to join Regis in uncovering the identity of Syanna's would-be fifth victim. They revisit the bootblack, who points them in the direction of beggars paid to deliver the messages naming the victims to Dettlaff. Geralt and Regis obtain the fifth scroll from the beggars, revealing the intended victim to be Henrietta. The duchess' death would have fulfilled the last virtue, compassion, as the duchess has been seen to be ruthless and harsh in her punishments. Geralt can then choose to confront an incarcerated Syanna with the knowledge. Geralt attends the award ceremony and stays by the duchess' side while she judges Syanna for her crimes. If Geralt chooses not to investigate into the fifth victim, or if he investigates it and then confronts Syanna in an admonishing manner, Syanna stabs Henrietta with a hairpin and is in turn shot by de la Tour's crossbow. With no living heirs to the dukedom, Toussaint falls into a state of chaos. If Geralt asks Syanna to consider forgiving her sister, which is only possible if Geralt read a governess' diary before entering the fairy tale world, the two sisters resolve their differences, and Toussaint celebrates.
A third ending results if Geralt did not retrieve the magical ribbon for Syanna in the fairy tale world. Dettlaff confronts Syanna and kills her. Geralt can choose to let him go or kill him with the help of Regis. Whichever his decision, Geralt is thrown into prison for failing to save Syanna. Geralt would have languished in prison or been executed had it not been for Dandelion persuading the duchess to pardon him. Geralt meets with Regis and can choose to look into the fifth victim. He uncovers that the fifth victim was to be the duchess herself, and goes to the ducal crypt where the duchess grieves, accompanied by Dandelion. The duchess refuses to believe Geralt and forbids him from seeing her ever again.
If Geralt opts for the Unseen Elder path, then the elder vampire would force Dettlaff to meet Geralt and Regis in Tesham Mutna. Dettlaff, enraged, attacks both of them, but Geralt and Regis gain the upper hand and kill him. The ending is the same as if Geralt had not looked into who was to be the fifth victim, with Syanna killing Anna and being killed in turn.
Geralt drinks with Regis, reflecting on their journey and the events they have witnessed and sometimes had a hand in. They agree they deserve some rest after all that has transpired. If Dettlaff was killed, Regis is attacked by vampires and labeled a traitor for helping defeat Dettlaff. Regis tells Geralt that he shall venture south and visit the empire of Nilfgaard. Geralt then returns home to the vineyard estate that formed part of his payment to find a surprise visitor. Depending on the choices and endings from the base game, the visitor may be either Yennefer or Triss (if Geralt romanced either of them in the base game), Ciri (if Geralt romances neither) or Dandelion (if Geralt romances neither and Ciri does not survive the base game).
On 7 April 2015, CD Projekt announced two expansion packs for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt—the first expansion being Hearts of Stone and the second being Blood and Wine. Blood and Wine was released on 31 May 2016. It was later released alongside Hearts of Stone in a complete edition for the Nintendo Switch on 15 October 2019.
Blood and Wine received "universal acclaim" from critics, according to review aggregator website, Metacritic. Many reviewers praised the way CD Projekt Red ended the storyline of the character Geralt of Rivia and the size of the expansion, with some saying it could be a new project. In a PC Gamer review by Tom Senior, he praised the developers for making such an in-depth expansion, and if they kept getting released, he'd still be playing The Witcher in 2020. Senior commended the farewell to the series. The Escapist writer Steven Bogos states it is overall a good expansion but it's not the adventurous "save the world" storyline like the previous Witcher titles. He added that the farewell to Geralt of Rivia will leave a smile on your face. Richard Cobbett for Rock, Paper, Shotgun claimed the game wasn't CD Projekt Red's best work. He said it had a good story but not as good as Hearts of Stone's. On the contrary to Cobbett's review, Chris Carter for Destructoid believed Blood and Wine was better than Hearts of Stone due to the latter feeling like a "polished, elongated quest". He said Blood and Wine was expansive enough that it could be considered a new project. "Blood and Wine is sometimes as thematically dark as its predecessors", Kevin VanOrd said in a GameSpot review, although when compared to other aspects of The Witcher 3, it is less grim. Leif Johnson for IGN had initial doubts due to the slow start but started to "love it" within the first few hours of gameplay. Shacknews writer Josh Hawkins noted they experienced a few problems and bugs in the expansion but there wasn't much he didn't like. He added onto this by saying it was, overall, a good addition to the series. Similar to Hawkins, Mike Williams for USgamer said it was a good expansion overall and the farewell to Geralt of Rivia was a success.
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