The key to success in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is knowing your enemy. There are plenty of monster types in the game, and really, your witching business only gets easier as you fill your head with attack patterns and weaknesses. Fortunately, we've took the time to write this hopefully helpful guide, which details what you can expect from each enemy type that you'll encounter during your adventures.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt PS4 Guides
- Guide: Hints and Tips for Beginners in The Witcher 3 on PS4
- Guide: Which Skills Should You Pick in The Witcher 3 on PS4?
- Guide: Where to Find All Places of Power in The Witcher 3 on PS4
- Guide: Tips for Surviving The Witcher 3's Punishing Combat on PS4
- Guide: The Best Character Builds for Geralt in The Witcher 3 on PS4
- Guide: How to Beat Each Enemy Type in The Witcher 3 on PS4
We should point out, however, that this isn't a complete assessment of everything that you can expect to find in the title's open world. For example, we've left out several boss enemies to avoid spoilers, and we've grouped a few beasts together at points if they happen to share the same basic attacks and tactics.
How to beat bears
Bears may look tough, brutish, and menacing, but they really don't pose too much of a threat. Like many of The Witcher 3's bigger beasts, bears are sluggish creatures, and their attacks are generally easy to see coming. However, the larger the foe, the more likely it is that hitting X to dodge roll is your best option, as your sidestep may not cover enough ground to get you to guaranteed safety. As such, you should roll if you see a bear charging in order to avoid its wide impact range.
When it comes to attacking bears, your best bet is usually to get in close with a couple of fast attacks, preferably from behind. After you're done slashing, quickly roll away, as bears can turn and hurl a paw in your direction if you hang around too long.
As for signs, quen is the safest option, as it is with most larger enemies, purely because it'll protect you from a hefty amount of damage at least once. A perfect fit, seeing as bears tend to wait for relatively long periods of time before following up on a previous strike. Igni's good, too, as it has a chance to do some continuous damage by setting the bear's fur on fire.
How to kill wolves and wild dogs
Wolves and wild dogs are easy opponents when they're alone - but that's rarely the case. These wily animals tend to hang around in packs, so you'll have to focus on defence as you wait for the right opportunity to strike back, probably after weathering numerous blows.
Fortunately, you can automatically block canine attacks with your sword by holding down L2, although it's worth mentioning that doing so will damage your blade rather quickly. The better option, then, at least when you're confident enough to do so, is to make full use of your sidestep, which is mapped to the circle button. Wolves and dogs alike love to circle around before leaping at you, so if one starts to draw close, be ready to hop to the side.
Your dodge roll can also come in handy, especially when you need some breathing space. When you have enough room between you and the pack, igni may be of use, as it can set fire to the creatures, leaving them howling and immobile for a short time.
How to beat werewolves
One of the trickier enemy types in the game, werewolves are dangerous beasts that can outlast you if you're not careful. They're both agile and strong, so watching their movements is key to overcoming them. If at any point they draw close, or appear to be charging on all fours, be sure to roll to a safe distance.
However, it's not strictly a werewolf's claws that are the problem. Indeed, the biggest obstacle when fighting werewolves is their ability to regenerate their health at an alarming rate, almost whenever they feel like it. This ability can lead to some fights lasting minutes at a time, all while they're taking chunks of your health away with each blow.
To counteract this, try using igni to temporarily stun the monster, and potentially set fire to its fur. When it's incapable of jumping away or fighting back, lay into it with as many fast attacks as you can, making sure not to leave it on even a slither of health, lest it heal its wounds soon after.
The most effective strategy, however, is to make use of a moon dust bomb. These particular explosives will stop werewolves from regenerating their lost health for a time, making the fight far easier, assuming that you're able to bring the beast down in a timely manner.
How to beat griffins, basilisks, and cockatrices
Monsters that share the same model as griffins are all dangerous foes. They're fast, they can take to the sky, and they deal out some hefty damage with each attack. The key to defeating each of them lies in your ability to read their incoming offensives, most of which are quite clearly signposted.
Griffins themselves are perhaps the most threatening of the lot, as they have a horrible habit of quickly marching towards you when they're on solid ground. When this happens, be sure to dodge roll at a moment's notice, or try using the aard sign, which will temporarily floor the beast, allowing you to either roll to safety or land a few crucial blows.
For all three creatures, your crossbow can really come in handy. When they're in the air, you can attempt to shoot them down, or, if you're aiming's not quite up to scratch, wait for them to swoop towards you, before tapping R1 to let off a quick, auto-aimed shot. The target will come crashing down, and will be left vulnerable for a couple of seconds.
When fighting basilisks, however, your priorities can change slightly. These scaly creatures can poison you with each and every attack, so it may be a good idea to counteract this with the golden oriole potion, which makes you invulnerable to poisoning for a decent length of time. Basilisks can also spit venom while hovering in the air, but it's fortunately not very accurate. If you see the beast take flight and stay in one place, be ready to hop to one side to avoid the incoming venom.
Meanwhile, cockatrices are much the same as griffins, except they have a tail, which they'll use for a sweeping attack, especially if you happen to be around their backside.
How to beat wyverns and forktails
These two legged, dragon-like monsters will only pose a real problem if you let them get on top of you. The majority of their attacks can be dodged fairly easily by tapping circle, as they're mostly short range strikes. However, they can take to the skies when they need a break, and then swoop down for some decent damage, so be sure to roll away when either a wyvern or a forktail is heading straight for you.
Both creatures are susceptible to the aard sign, which can knock them down for a second or so, opening them up for a quick strike or two. The best way to deal with either, though, is to attack from their sides. Both monsters attack from the front, so a well timed sidestep can be perfect when it comes to positioning yourself for a flurry of sword slashes.
How to beat earth elementals, fire elementals, and golems
They certainly look intimidating, but a patient Witcher can easily get the best of these material-based monsters. All three of these magical guardians are slow, so make the most of your dodge roll to escape their wide attacks after you get one or two hits in.
Earth elementals have a special attack in which they summon up a wave of rocks from the ground, but it's thankfully not too hard to dodge since it comes out in a straight line. Fire elementals, meanwhile, are more dangerous in that they can set you alight when you're close. Because of this, it's always best to hit a fire elemental with aard before you go in swinging, as the sign's blast will smother their flaming bodies for a short time.
However, all three monsters can make use of a defensive stance that damages you if you attack at the wrong time. While they rarely use this stance more than a couple of times during a brawl, it's still best to be wary if you see your foe stand still and crouch slightly. Wait for the stance to end before leaping back into the fray, or you'll be smashed aside.
How to beat gargoyles
Gargoyles can attack quickly, despite their heavy forms. They mostly make use of a projectile attack that sees them lobbing a clod of earth your way, but it's easy enough to avoid if you're paying attention. At close range, the chubby monsters will swing their arms at you, but again, dodging the blows is fairly simple as long as you don't overstay your welcome while you're hacking into their stony forms.
A gargoyle's best weapon is arguably its stomp. This attack sees the statue-like creature smash one foot on the ground, which creates a damaging 360 degree shockwave that'll break straight through your guard and leave you stunned. With that in mind, always try and have quen cast so that you can absorb the blow.
Similarly, quen is a good idea for when you're fighting a gargoyle out in the open, too. With no ceiling above its head, a gargoyle can leap into the air and smash down somewhere near within the blink of an eye. The resulting shockwave can deal damage, and leave you wide open.
How to beat harpies
Harpies are essentially wolves of the skies. They're mostly an annoyance, but still shouldn't be taken lightly if you're vastly outnumbered. They're quick and agile, and you'll need to bring them down to solid ground before you can easily finish them off.
Harpies are relatively harmless when they're floored, so either bring them down with your crossbow, or hit them with aard as they swoop. Either way, a few fast attacks while they're hopping about and they'll be history. The only real danger here is that you need to be careful not to be overrun from different directions when fighting whole flocks of the things, so be sure to keep an eye on your minimap to check the position of each enemy.
How to beat sirens
Much like harpies, sirens are easily bested once they're brought down to Earth. Some are more dangerous, though, in that their swooping attacks can poison you if they connect. It's also worth noting that if they're not killed quickly while they flounder around on the floor, sirens can let out a cry that stuns, giving them time to once again take to the air
Needless to say, your crossbow is a good companion to have whenever a siren is gliding towards you. Similarly, a well timed aard blast will also knock the monsters out of the sky, while igni burns the creatures rather well.
How to beat endrega workers, drones, and warriors
These troublesome insectoids can be especially deadly in groups. Endrega workers are easy enough to kill as long as you're not surrounded, and their attacks are all suitably predictable, mostly consisting of straightforward claw slashes - some of which can even be blocked. Drones, on the other hand, make use of poisonous barbs that shoot out in all directions, so either have a quen shield ready or roll out of range.
Endrega warriors sport a long, club-like tail. Their front mandibles are used for general stabbing and slashing attacks, but it's that aforementioned tail that's the danger here. It can be swung twice in quick succession, or just once depending on whether it hits you or not. The attacks not only do decent damage, but they also poison you, chipping away your health. Keeping your distance after each sword strike is a good idea for the most part, but even then, you're not entirely safe. Both endrega warriors and drones have a leaping attack that does a lot of damage if it connects, and even if it doesn't, the shockwave can break your guard. As such, always be on the lookout for a crouching motion, which signifies when they're about to jump at you.
How to beat arachas and armoured arachas
These bulky insectoids are usually more dangerous than the endrega, mostly because of their meaty health bars. Arachas are large monsters which employ a range of attacks, from spitting venom to shooting an immobilising web. The former comes out in an arch, which can be difficult to avoid if you're not positioned right, while the latter has to be dodged with a rather precise sidestep or roll.
Fortunately, the webbing only really poses a threat if the arachasae is accompanied by other monsters, as it's usually not fast enough to follow up with any damaging attacks. Speaking of which, this is definitely another case of rolling away after one of two sword swings, as its pincers are both fast and quite damaging. Likewise, the armoured arachasae is also deadly in close quarters combat, and tends to take a heck of a beating before it finally falls thanks to its thick shell. If you can flank either beast, the increased damage is usually the best way to bring them down, especially if you can keep them from turning around with continuous, staggering blows.
How to beat ghouls and alghouls
Ghouls are the first monsters that you fight in the game, and they generally pose little threat unless you find yourself surrounded by a pack of them. Along with an easily avoidable lunging attack, ghouls tend to bite and swipe at you when they get close. Both aard and igni are good for keeping them at bay, or staggering them so that you can finish them off.
Alghouls, on the other hand, can be tricky opponents - especially if they have help. The main problem when dealing with alghouls is their spines, which will damage you if you strike while they're raised. You can still damage the monster with your blades, but the spikes ensure that your own health will take a knock at the same time. To counteract this, use the axii sign, which will stun your foe. However, don't go in for an attack just yet - wait for the alghoul to come to its senses, and it'll drop the spines. This is your opportunity to finish the beast off.
How to beat drowners
Drowners can be dangerous in groups, but they're predictable. These bloated necrophages hang around near water, and can disappear into it in order to pop back up for a surprise attack, so be careful not to get caught out, especially if the battle's taking place over a body of the stuff.
Other than that, drowners employ a leaping attack that'll stun you if you try to block it, so it's always best to sidestep to the left or right, then go for the kill with one or two sword strikes. Like wolves, packs of drowners will keep you on your toes, but as mentioned, you won't be able to block all of their attacks. However, drowners are weak to fire, so whenever you get the chance, cast igni to set them alight, and render them immobile for a short time.
How to beat water hags and grave hags
As creepy as they are dangerous, hags are rather horrible creatures that pose a threat both at close range and from afar. When you're at a distance, water hags will throw globs of mud at you, which will obscure parts of the screen if it hits. Not only that, but it'll also stun you for a short time, so it's always important to sidestep this particular attack.
When they get in close, hags make use of their sharp claws, swinging wildly at you. If you're lucky, you'll be able to block the first hit and then roll away, but let a hag continue its combo, and it'll break your guard and stun you. You also need to be careful of their ability to disappear and reappear in water. If they get the chance, they'll usually emerge behind you, so as always, be ready to roll.
Grave hags may be considered a bit more horrific, though, thanks to their whipping tongue attack. Using their elongated muscle, they'll lash out at anything within a certain distance, and it's got a very wide radius. However, a quick back step is usually enough to get out of the danger zone.
Arguably the best way to deal with either creature is to make good use of quen so that you can weather the first blow before moving in for the kill with several sword swings. Hags tend to stagger quite easily, so once you're in striking distance, don't stop unless you know that the fiend's going to retaliate.
How to beat rotfiends
You're likely in for a shock the first time that you come across a rotfiend. They sport a similar set of attacks to the common drowner, but the ace up a rotfiend's sleeve is that it'll explode in a poisonous cloud when its health reaches a certain point.
This point is usually when a rotfiend's health bar reaches the one quarter mark. It'll stand still, quiver, and then start to expand. Needless to say, it's in your best interest to dive away from the ensuing blast. Other than that, rotfiends are relatively easy to bring down. Igni can be good for keeping them at bay, or it can even be used to knock just enough health away that they detonate from a safe distance.
How to beat foglets
Arguably one of the trickiest enemies in the game, foglets are slightly bigger than normal men, and they're not to be taken lightly. The main weapon in the foglet's arsenal is that they can disappear into - you guessed it - fog, and then materialise to break your guard and ravage you with their large claws.
Getting the better of such a crafty foe can be a tall order, especially if there's more than one of them, so your best bet is to cast quen, and wait patiently for the beast to appear, or indeed, reappear. Thicker clouds of fog indicate where the creature actually is, so keep a sharp eye on its movement patterns. If it appears to be moving towards you at pace, be ready to dodge roll away, as a simple sidestep won't put enough distance between you and its long arms.
Fights with foglets can become lengthy affairs if they're not taken care of quickly, as they can summon two wisp-like clones of themselves which are made from the fog. These clones will usually go down in a single strike, but can be dangerous if they attack from two different directions simultaneously.
Igni can be a decent option when flushing the monster out of hiding, while aard can be useful for creating an opening. Whatever you strategy, though, patience is key here. Any rash moves will likely be punished by the foglet, or one of its two clones.
How to beat cyclopses
Cyclopses have meaty health bars and plenty of range on their attacks. The biggest problem when fighting them is the fact that it's very difficult to correctly time your dodge rolls so that you don't get hit as you're rolling. As such, quen is essential during these fights, as it'll allow you to take at least one direct hit.
The best way to do good damage to these giants is to only move in for an attack after they've finished their own. Cycloses make use of rampaging charge attack that can be avoided with relative ease, and it presents the perfect opportunity to get behind the monsters and get one or two slashes in. Rinse and repeat, for the most part.
Alternatively, you can use the axii sign, which can stagger the beasts and leave them vulnerable - but it won't do so for long.
How to beat nekkers
Yet another monster type that's likely to be found in groups, nekkers are fast, and their leaping attack can stagger you. Against several at once, aard can be a great ally, as it's bound to knock a few of them down, leaving them open to a deadly one-hit kill finisher.
Nekkers are generally quite simple to beat, though, and only really pose a threat if one manages to break your guard, as others dive in for the kill.
How to beat rock trolls
Rock trolls have a lot of health, and sometimes won't react to your blows. As such, you should always be looking to roll away after one or two strikes, as their punches do some decent damage if they connect. Much like other heavier beasts, making good use of quen can save your life.
At a distance, rock trolls use stones pulled from their own backs as projectiles. A simple sidestep should be enough to ensure that you avoid the missile, but it's worth noting that the beasts are vulnerable when they're busy around rummaging for the stone. A crossbow bolt or a quick, lunging slash may be a good idea, if you think that you have the timing to pull it off.
On top of that, watch out for a rock troll's rampaging flurry. The creatures are prone to charging at you, arms flailing, and if you're not quick to react, you could get caught in the carnage.
How to beat fiends and chorts
Fiends and chorts are among the most dangerous monsters in The Witcher 3. Fiends are huge, hulking creatures, while chorts are essentially smaller relatives - but the latter's no less deadly.
Like cyclopses, fiends will often have the reach to strike back after you've struck a blow, even when you're rolling away. As such, quen is essential once again. When a fiend roars, it's usually about to charge at you, so a sideways roll is a regular necessity.
However, a fiend's favourite trick lies in its ability to hypnotise you. If a fiend suddenly stops, lowers its head a little, and your surroundings start to shake ever so slightly, it's beginning the hypnosis incantation, which, if successful, places you in a dark, vacuous space. In this space, the fiend is free to attack you from out of the darkness, which can make its attack patterns more difficult to predict. Fortunately, the hypnosis wears off after a relatively short time, so it's just a case of waiting it out. That said, your best bet is to interrupt the incantation entirely, by attacking the monster before it finishes.
Meanwhile, chorts sport many of the same attacks as fiends, but their smaller stature means that they're slightly more agile. With this in mind, you'll definitely want to stay at a distance, only attacking when you know the chort isn't about to charge.
How to beat leshens
Found in forests, leshens can be deadly enemies if underestimated. Act with caution, however, and they're easy enough to see through. Their most prominent attack comes in the form of gnarled roots and tree branches bursting from the ground. If the summoned roots hit you, they'll break your guard or send you flying.
Fortunately, these roots can be dodged with a roll, as they manifest in a straight line. When under attack, leshens have a habit of disappearing in a cloud of black smoke. When they're out of danger, they'll usually reappear nearby, and, if feasible, will attempt to swing a claw at you.
They're relatively stationary foes, though, so thoughtful movement is key here. However, this tactic can prove ineffective if the leshen summons its forest friends - namely a small pack of wolves. When a leshen roars, it won't be long before the beasts show up, so be prepared to counteract numbers with signs like igni or aard. Whatever you do, though, don't let the wolves distract you too much from the leshen itself, as you'll still need to be on the lookout for its deadly summoned roots.
How to beat noonwraiths
Ah, bloody noonwraiths. Troublesome foes that require the use of yrden, as only within the sign's magical confines will they show their material form. It sounds easy enough, but even then, you're forced to duel the ghosts inside of the small circle that yrden creates, so you won't have too much room to manoeuvre.
The trick here is to not get greedy. Too many strikes with your sword, and a noonwraith will momentarily enter its spirit form, cut straight through you, and materialise again behind you. This attack not only breaks your guard, but it can stun, too, leaving you wide open to follow up blows.
What's more, if you're not quick to finish them, noonwraiths will blind you, and then summon three clones of themselves. These clones can be killed quickly, but as you draw close to them, they'll sap away your health bit by bit, so your best option is to cut them down as fast as possible, perhaps even using igni to damage them from a slight distance.
How to beat wraiths
Not quite as tricky as noonwraiths, wraiths can still be a pain, especially in groups. Wraiths hold a sword and a lantern, and use them to slash and smack their enemies. Most of their offensives are preceded by a stint of teleportation, but once you know the pattern, it's quite easy to avoid the incoming attacks.
The first time that they teleport is usually a bluff. They'll reappear quickly, and then vanish again. It's this second disappearance that's the one to watch, because the next time a wraith emerges, it'll be next to you, and it'll try and lash out with a small combo. The first attack can be blocked, but it'll stagger you slightly, leaving you open for the second hit. As such, you're best off rolling away as soon as they appear in your vicinity after that second round of telepotation. Once you've dodged that, a few good hits with your blade is usually enough to either kill or severely weaken the monster.
How to beat vampires
Vampires are incredibly creepy in The Witcher 3, mostly because they're more beast than man. These monsters can prove to be a challenge if you're not paying attention, but with the right tactics, you'll soon overcome their fearsome reputation.
Vampires are big, but they're not slow. They have a lunging attack and they can swipe quickly with claws. Almost all of their offensives will stagger you, so it's always best to avoid contact entirely until after they've finished their own attacks. Igni is key here, as vampires burn well, and can be staggered quite easily with a blast at the right time.
Their invisibility can be a pain, though. Usually between attacks, vampires will cloak themselves. You'll still be able to see a sort of shimmering outline of the beasts, but your attacks won't lock on to your target - although you can still do damage if you're lucky enough to swing and hit. Things can get tense as you watch a vampire prowl under the guise of its invisibility cloak, but as always, patience is key - wait for the creature to emerge before rolling away, and then strike back.
That just about does it. Do you have any tips for fighting certain enemies, or do you fear no beast? Take our heads as trophies in the comments section below.