I don't know if I can adequately explain why this game is as amazing as I think it is.... but I'll try.The GoodThe writing
Hands down, this game has some of the best writing I've ever experience in an RPG. The main quest feels very personal, and you actually want to progress in order to find out what happens next. The characters are all interesting and also incredibly well-written. The quests
Again, this game has the best side quests out of all the RPGs I've played. And that's saying a lot. Every quest seems to have at least some back story. There's typically at least a few forms of interaction other than just killing something and then returning to the quest giver. The decisions you make are never black and white, and usually involve some form of consequences. And FINALLY, you actually get to feel like a real witcher\monster hunter by taking on some really fun witcher contracts. The world
Velen and Skellige can both rival some of the largest open worlds out there in terms of size, and yet the level of detail and polish remains consistent throughout. Exploration is very rewarding. There's loot to be found everywhere, and little quests can be unlocked along the way to help you find even more treasure.
Novigrad is a HUGE city, and you just walk inside without a hint of a loading screen. It actually feels like a living, breathing world. NPCs have daytime\nighttime routines, and will seek shelter if it starts to rain. Little things like that go along way to bring you into a world.Graphics and art design
How can I put this? All things considered, The Witcher 3 is probably the most beautiful game I've ever played. You must experience this game in motion, but feel free to look through my screenshots if you need convincing.
One thing that can't be seen in screenshots is the way everything moves and feels alive. And while the wind effect might seem overdone, it really helps to sell the atmosphere.
The Witcher 3 can be rough around the edges and other games are definitely doing some more impressive things technically, but the overall Witcher 3 experience is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. The combat
This grew on me. At first I didn't like it. I didn't think signs were strong enough, and I was constantly getting my butt kicked. But then I learned how to dodge and counter properly. I learned how to use signs to my advantage, I learned how to stick and move, and start treating each encounter like a puzzle. Eventually I was punching WAY above my weight, taking on level 20 witcher contracts with a level 14 character. Now I love the combat and I'm always looking forward to doing the next Witcher contract.The BadControls
Quite possibly my biggest gripe with the game. Controls just feel clunky at best. I play with a mouse and keyboard, so maybe that is part of the reason... but movement in this game feels sluggish and unresponsive. Sometimes I'll try to move Geralt a little bit and he won't budge, and at other times he'll move too far and run off a cliff. Just turning around can feel like a chore as Geralt has a rather large turning radius. Even worse are the horse controls, which kinda feels like driving around a very large SUV. Constantly getting stuck on geometry and trying to maneuver around it is an ongoing, frustrating chore.Balance
Even on the largest difficulty, it doesn't take long for this game to become a cake walk. IF you enjoy the sidequests like I do, you'll likely spend a lot of time completing them instead of doing the main quest. The main quest is GOOD, but some of the game's best content can be found in the sidequests. And after 20 hours of questing, you'll probably find that the next step in the campaign is 5 levels below you and therefore not challenging in the slightest. There were several instances where I'd go up against an enemy that is supposed to be tough and intimidating... but I kill it in less than 12 seconds.
Loot progression is also a joke if you do any kind of crafting. The witcher gear is probably better than anything the game will give you from monsters or chests. During your travels, you'll come across countless relic quality swords. And they may even have more damage than your current green sword. But witcher gear is highly specialized and usually compliment specific builds. Using a higher damage sword might actually gimp you if you lose a massive bonus to sign intensity, or adrenaline point gain. Other stuff...
There's still so much I could go into. Replay value is probably lower since you only have 1 character to play as, but the game makes up for that with a much more personal and involved story. Gwent is probably a very fun card game, but I still haven't played a single game due to not wanting to dump a ton of time into it. Some day I will. Witcher sense is fun at first, but after a while it will feel like a chore. Having to hold down the button combined with the ridiculous screen effects really hampers my enjoyment of this commonly used mechanic. And you never feel like you're solving an investigation using witcher sense. Just looking for red stuff on the ground and following on screen prompts while Geralt figures everything out for you. Conclusion
I can not possibly cover everything there is to cover about this massive game. But I can say that the good FAR outweighs the bad, and that this is is my favorite open world RPG of all time. I know that The Witcher series isn't for everyone, but I think you owe it to yourself to at least give it a try.
And again, if you need convincing that this game is drop-dead gorgeous, have a look through my screenshots :)https://www.flickr.com/photos/jim2point0/sets/72157653074223832