A question that we've seen asked around the Internet countless times: do you really need to play The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings in order to understand The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt? Since the upcoming open world title is the first entry in the series to venture onto PlayStation platforms, the concern is understandable. If you've been a Sony loyalist for most, if not all, of your gaming life, then the chances are that you're not all too familiar with Geralt of Rivia and his adventures. Fortunately, we can tell you that you don't need to have played the previous titles to get your head around the PlayStation 4 offering.

It's clear that CD Projekt Red foresaw a possible problem with adding a '3' onto the name of the release. When the game was initially revealed all the way back in 2013, its logo had a clear '3' etched on the end. Now, the logo's been altered, so that a Roman numeral 'III' sits at the bottom of the name – and it's designed to look like claw marks. The change means that it perhaps doesn't scream 'sequel' any more – at least not as much as the old logo did. It was a simple alteration, and in theory, it should help stop newcomers asking whether or not they need to play the previous instalments, if they were to spot the box sitting on a store shelf. Of course, that isn't going to work on the Internet, where everyone already knows that it's called The Witcher 3.

White Orchard[1]

But again, prior experiences aren't strictly necessary. Wild Hunt's plot is a standalone tale, and the story itself can be followed perfectly fine without previous knowledge. The narrative has its twists and turns, and it does cover a lot of ground, but the most important plot points and scenarios are all self-contained within this newest game.

That said, there are numerous returning characters, and not just Geralt himself. It goes without saying that if you've played the first two games, you'll get more out of the cast – but you'll still come to understand and enjoy the involved personalities if you haven't. This is mostly because the dialogue is consistently engaging and fleshed out, so it's easy to keep up with who's doing what and why. Plus, if a returning character does pop up, Geralt will usually mention it, and make it clear that they've met once or twice before.

In truth, the game as a whole is pretty good at introducing you to concepts and stories which have already been detailed in the two older titles. It's a massive role-playing game to get properly stuck into, so learning opportunities certainly aren't lacking, even if you're currently clueless about certain bits and pieces. There's also a meaty glossary to pore over, which is updated almost all of the time as you complete quests and pick up reading materials. It covers everything from the monsters that you face to the characters that you come across, which makes it a handy companion if you happen to forget a face.


It's also worth mentioning that early on in the game, Geralt is questioned about his past escapades – namely the events that occurred in The Witcher 2. This is the title's way of incorporating previous choices into Wild Hunt, but the questions that he's asked won't make much sense if you're unfamiliar with the last game. As such, if you're eager to tailor Geralt's history to your tastes, then we'd suggest watching a video like this one, which attempts to explain what each choice amounts to. This early interrogation is really the only time where you're given dialogue options without much context, so if you do find yourself slightly scuppered, don't be too disheartened.

All in all, you certainly shouldn't be put off trying The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt if you haven't dipped your toes into either of the previous two titles. Yes, prior knowledge does have benefits when interacting with returning characters and wrapping your head around the world and its workings, but it's certainly not necessary. The developer's delivered on its promise of providing an experience that expands the existing franchise, and fans will appreciate that – but at the same time, it proves to be welcoming to newcomers through its thoughtfully crafted world.

You can read our full and final thoughts on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in our review, which will be published before the game is released on the 19th May. Have you played either of the two previous titles? Share your vast knowledge in the comments section below.