I've got a lot of stuff to do. These people won't rest easy until I've dealt with the spirit that's haunting their nearby well. And this old woman I bumped into seems desperate to get her frying pan back, so maybe there's a crown or two in it for me if I can deal with that crisis real fast. Oh, and there's a corrupt priest I should pay a visit to, and some potions I should brew, and a monster nest I should clear and, oh yeah, the little girl I once trained is now a badass fighting woman who could probably use a hand with the dark forces that are following her...
... and eh, what the heck? I might as well play a few rounds of the card game Gwent while I'm out and about.
You could compare the world of The Witcher to Game of Thrones. It's a dark fantasy world full of violence, sex and politics, where the heroes of the story tend to operate in areas of grey rather than black or white. Heads will be chopped off, clothes will be removed and the choices you make could have dire consequences. It's absolutely an epic story -- and not one that's family friendly.
The Witcher III is probably a game I'll be playing all summer. It's a game that boasts more than 100 hours of potential gameplay, and it's not joking. Sure, if you just plow through the main quest quickly you'll finish the story much quicker, but if you want to hunt every monster and complete every quest you're going to be busy for a very long time.
It's easy to get distracted in the world of The Witcher -- in a good way. Every time you stop in a village to speak to its residents and check out its notice board your map gets peppered with question marks notifying you of points of interests. It's incredibly easy to say, "Oh, apparently there's something about 100 feet away. I'm so close, so I might as well stop by, right?" Maybe it's an ancient stone that will grant you power, or maybe it's a problem you can solve for somebody very quickly. Or perhaps its the start of a long quest that you won't be finishing for a long time.
But even if you don't deliberately go hunting for adventure, sometimes it finds you. As you ride your horse across the massive open world you will encounter plenty of sights that are hard to pass up. Maybe you'll stumble across a den of monsters. Maybe you'll see a man on the side of the road who's obviously distraught (his horse was killed and his cart destroyed, but he's worried about recovering one item in particular). The world feels alive, full of people and creatures that are always moving.
It's also a world that you get to feel some power over. In talking with the other characters you encounter throughout the world you are often given a choice as to you you will respond to different lines of dialogue. Some of these responses are innocuous, making no impact on the story other than perhaps leading to some interesting exchanges. Some, though, will greatly affect your future. Maybe you'll avoid a deadly brawl in a tavern by talking down some of its rowdy patrons. Maybe you'll get paid more than you would have otherwise. Or maybe someone else's life comes down to your choices.
The game's combat takes some getting used to (blocking and parrying sword attacks is important, but you can't just play The Witcher III like the Assassin's Creed games, as I tried to do for a little while), and sometimes moving around and picking up items is finicky, but these are small complaints in a massive game.
There are a lot more elements and systems at play in The Witcher III that I could talk about, but every minute I sit here writing is a minute I'm not playing -- and I've clearly got a lot of playing left to do. It's exactly the kind of epic adventure I was craving in a game to play this summer, and it's easy to recommend if you have similar needs.