In anticipation of its release, we were invited to preview Blood and Wine, the upcoming expansion for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Set for release between late May and early June, the expansion will serve to wrap up The Witcher series.

Unlike Hearts of Stone, Blood and Wine largely takes place in Toussaint, a whole new region for players to explore. Upon arriving, players will immediately notice just how vibrant and lively the region is, rich in colour and light. Now if I had to guess, Toussaint is most decidedly based on France and its wine regions. If the knights with their accents weren’t yet a giveaway, the vineyards that scatter Toussaint most certainly are.Witcher1 But in spite of the region’s peaceful appearance, all is not well. And so Geralt is summoned to assist in bringing an end to the threat that plagues the land.

Blood and Wine brings much in the way of new content and features, with the expansion reportedly containing over 30 hours worth of content: for example, over 90 new quests to undertake and dozens of new locations to explore.Witcher4As Geralt’s travels in the series have as yet not brought him to Toussaint, it can only be assumed that it brings with it exotic and new weapons and armour, as well as previously unseen monsters. Blood and Wine will feature new sets of Witcher gear alongside a hundred new pieces of armour, over 30 new weapons, and upwards of 20 new monsters to fight.

One of the other major changes is the new option to dye pieces of Witcher gear. These can be purchased from a merchant, created or picked up as loot. It should be noted that dyes will only be obtainable while in Toussaint, though dyed gear should carry on into the main game.Witcher3Now, I want to make particular mention of the way that CD Projekt RED has taken on the advice of players, and has thus given them greater power in effecting change in the world.

One such feature is the vineyard that Geralt is given early on in the expansion. Serving as a base of operations while in the Toussaint region, it is similar to Assassin Creed II’s Monteriggioni, in that the player can speak with an architect and invest money to improve the appearance of the vineyard. But these upgrades are not purely cosmetic, as the player can invest in the option to also be able to repair and craft armour and weaponry. It seems rather fitting and timely for this property to be given to Geralt. With The Witcher saga now concluding, perhaps he will retire and make (and drink) wine for the rest of his days.Witcher2The expansion also sees the introduction the of Dynamic Point of Interest system. While not much more detail was given, these are essentially landmarks in the game world the player can effect change on, from how it appears through to the presence of enemy NPCs in the area.

Along with a revamped user interface, the expansion also brings with it a number of other exclusive features like new mutations and combat abilities. For those that purchase Blood and Wine, it has been confirmed that features such as these will carry on into Hearts of Stone and the base game.

While this was only a taste of Blood and Wine, I certainly do look forward to its release in the coming weeks.