How To

How to play THE WITCHER 3

How to play THE WITCHER 3
Russell Kidson

Russell Kidson

  • Updated:

Open World RPGs are hugely popular. And thanks to the massive global success of the Witcher Netflix adaptation, whole new demographics are getting attached to Geralt of Rivia in ways gamers have been doing since 2007. With hordes of monsters to vanquish, and of course, the search for Geralt’s long-lost love, Yennefer, you’re justified in wondering what The Witcher 3 is and how to play it. 

So lace up your leather tights and pick up your swords because we are about to give you the full Geralt of Rivia experience. We’ll take you through the lore and storylines and give you tips and tricks to help you in your exploration of this massive and frankly iconic, open-world role-playing game. 

The Witcher 3: A Comprehensive Guide

The Witcher 3 is hailed as one of the most complex and, at times, overwhelming RPGs around. Even experienced RPG players find it to be a difficult title to immerse themselves in fully. This is why we’ve decided to tell you as much as possible without spoiling the experience. We’ll start with a deep dive into the lore as this will likely be the first time you’re experiencing the vast world of The Witcher game series. 

How to play THE WITCHER 3

The Continent

The Continent is the name of the word in which The Witcher 3 takes place. The game is set during the same time as the Netflix series, so you’ll have ample opportunity to visit your favorite locations. Some of these locations include the Empire of Nilfgaard, the Northern Kingdoms, Redania, the free city of Novigrad, the recently conquered Temeria, the no man’s land of Velen, the Skellige islands, and the Witcher stronghold, Kaer Morhen.

We agree that these names are quite a mouthful, but for the most part, you’ll be too focused on the beautiful scenery each has to offer to be thinking about the Slavonic roots of their etymology. 

Enter A World of Conflict

Surprise! This world is in turmoil too. But there are elves, monsters, and dwarves, so it’s still a good escape from real life. The Continent is the battleground for a war between the Empire of Nilfgaard, ruled by Emperor Emhyr var Emreis, and Redania, governed by King Radovid V. Temeria has recently been conquered. Its capital, Vizima, functions as Emperor Emhyr’s city of residence. 

Your Quest Begins

To everyone’s excitement, you play as Geralt of Rivia, a ruthless but lovable monster hunter – or Witcher – who receives a letter from his long-lost lover, Yennefer of Vengerberg. The letter leads Geralt to meet with Yennefer and travel to Vizima for a rather urgent audience with the Emperor. As it turns out, and here’s where it gets a little complicated, Geralt and Yennefer have an adoptive daughter, Ciri, who is the Emperor’s biological daughter and has gone missing.

Ciri is a Child of the Elder Blood, which basically means she is really important to the Empire because she’s the last heir to an ancient Elven Bloodline. There are thus many creatures, humans and interdimensional beings who want her for various reasons. 

Geralt spends the largest part of the storyline following clues to find Ciri. Most of this involves side quests to find various belongings for other characters in exchange for information on Ciri’s last known location. This is probably the most complex, intriguing, and astoundingly beautiful game of hide-and-seek anyone has ever played. 

Now that we’ve covered the basics of where you are and what you need to do, let’s delve into the actual gameplay. 

How to play THE WITCHER 3

How to play The Witcher 3

Sometimes it’s fun to stumble around a new world in the dark, but in a world as vast and detailed as The Continent, it’s best to have a few tricks up your sleeve. We’ll also give you a rundown of special features in The Witcher. Even if you have the story, character, and political background from the Netflix series, it’s definitely beneficial to know some spells right from the beginning. 

Spell Signs

Witchers are magical beings. Therefore there are spells that you can use to get the upper hand during combat. The Witcher 3 has five spell signs that pack a punch. 

  • Yrden: This is the in-game variant of a casting circle. Once cast, it forms an ensnaring ring around whatever you cast it on and deal damage to its target. 
  • Quen: This is a protective shield that will protect you during battle. 
  • Igni: This one is a short-range projectile blast of fire. You can use this effectively against anything that can burn and any creature that feasts on the dead. 
  • Axii: You can use this spell sign to influence minds. It can incapacitate your enemies in combat and is useful to extract more information than anyone’s willing to give during character interactions. 
  • Aard: Functioning as a telekinetic power, you can use Aard against enemies during combat and blast certain doors and walls open to access special hidden areas. 


Oils are really useful and are distilled from various natural ingredients and bits and pieces from creatures you’ve killed. Weapons can be anointed with oils to increase their efficacy against certain creatures during combat. Once made, oils are infinitely reusable, but you’ll need to reapply them to your weapons now and then. 

Beast Oil

  • 1x Dog allow
  • 1x Wolf’s liver
  • Gives 10% attack power against beasts

Cursed Oil

  • 1x Dog tallow
  • 4x Wolfsbane
  • Gives 10% attack power against Cursed Ones

Draconid Oil

  • 1x Dog tallow
  • 4x Ergot seeds
  • Gives 10% attack power against Draconids

Elementa Oil

  • 1x Dog tallow
  • 4x Puffball
  • Gives 10% attack power against Elementa

Hybrid Oil

  • 1x Dog tallow
  • 4x White myrtle petals
  • Gives 10% attack power against Hybrids

Insectoid Oil

  • 1x Dog tallow
  • 4x Ranogrin
  • Gives 10% attack power against Insectoids

Necrophage Oil

  • 1x Dog tallow
  • 4x Blowball
  • Gives 10% attack power against Necrophages

Specter Oil

  • 1x Bear fat
  • 4x Arenaria
  • Gives 10% attack power against Specters

Vampire Oil

  • 2x Dog tallow
  • 4x Ducal water
  • Gives 10% attack power against Vampires

Hanged Man’s Venom

  • 1x Dog tallow
  • 4x Arenaria
  • Gives 10% attack power against humans and non-humans
  • Each oil also has an Enhanced and Super Enhanced recipe which requires more ingredients and deals greater damage.


Potions are consumables that, like oils, don’t need to be remade once you make them. You can replenish them with alcohol by meditating. Potions enhance your performance during tasks and missions once taken. However, they come with a warning; The Witcher 3 has an interesting toxicity mechanic.

So while you can use potions to enhance your performance, you can’t down too many at a time and expect to be okay. Use them with caution. 

How to play THE WITCHER 3

The Witcher 3: Tips and Tricks

With a better idea of how to play The Witcher 3, you should be able to handle the basics. Here are some tips to make sure you succeed in all your missions.

1. Do the Tutorials

The tutorials are there to help you get used to the game’s controls. You’ll learn a few attack functions and how to interact with NPCs and the world around you, so you shouldn’t skip the tutorials. While the controls are fairly standard, The Witcher 3 has more functions and controls than most other open-world RPGs. If you struggle with the PC control layout, try switching to a console controller and see if that makes the gameplay easier. 

2. Do the Side Missions

Some players say that they enjoy the game more when they abandon the storyline and go off on their own. While we suggest this once you’ve played the storyline through, it’s important to remember the value of side missions. These missions are specifically designed to give you loot.

You can pick up loads of cool weapons, upgrades, and ingredients to make potions and oils with. Anything you don’t need, you can sell. Either take the loot to a merchant to get coins in return, or take them to a blacksmith so that he can take them apart and maybe give you pieces you need to upgrade the rest of your weaponry. 

Side missions also give you experience points in the form of levels to give you a better chance when you face off with the really tough monsters. 

3. Keep an Eye on the Bounty Board

The bounty board, a yellow blip on your HUD, is where you can see the contracts you can do. These sometimes stand apart from the storyline and advance your levels just like the side missions do. 

4. Keep Track of Your Bestiary

Your Bestiary is a guidebook of the monsters in the game. Once you confront a monster, it’s added to your Bestiary, sometimes with information on how to beat it and what it’s vulnerable to. Not every monster will have its vulnerabilities so easily laid out, but the Bestiary also contains additional interesting information about the monsters you face. 

5. Repair and Enhance Your Weapons

It should come as no surprise in a game as well thought out and complex as The Witcher 3 that your weapons don’t have infinite durability. You need to upgrade your weapons whenever you can to give yourself a better edge against enemies. Also, keep track of how much of a beating has taken. The last thing you want in battle is to be let down by your trusty blade. 

6. Use the Right Sword

This is a new one for anyone exploring The Witcher for the first time. Geralt carries two swords on his back. One is a pretty standard longsword; the other is made from silver. The silver sword is effective against monsters; Your longsword is effective against humans. So if you’re wondering why you aren’t doing much damage to your enemies, you might be using the wrong sword.

How to play THE WITCHER 3

Netflix’s The Witcher TV series

There’s some history to how The Witcher spread from the original books by Andrzej Sapkowski. The games are seen as sequels to the books, continuing the stories for the fans.

When it comes to the Netflix show, it mostly covers scenes and events from the books, which is why the timeline with the games isn’t exactly the same. However, there are some inspirations from the games, such as Geralt’s deep voice and some of the fight scenes.

The Game that Has it All

The Witcher 3 is about as comprehensive as an open-world role-playing game gets. You won’t regret trying this game out with a seemingly infinite world that is fine-tuned to the most minute detail to explore and weather effects, reflections, and mechanics to bring it all together.

There’s a reason it’s one of the most highly-regarded RPGs in existence. Hopefully, we’ve given you enough reasons, tips, and tricks to pick up your sword and help Geralt on his quest to find Ciri.

Russell Kidson

Russell Kidson

I hail from the awe-inspiring beauty of South Africa. Born and raised in Pretoria, I've always had a deep interest in local history, particularly conflicts, architecture, and our country's rich past of being a plaything for European aristocracy. 'Tis an attempt at humor. My interest in history has since translated into hours at a time researching everything from the many reasons the Titanic sank (really, it's a wonder she ever left Belfast) to why Minecraft is such a feat of human technological accomplishment. I am an avid video gamer (Sims 4 definitely counts as video gaming, I checked) and particularly enjoy playing the part of a relatively benign overlord in Minecraft. I enjoy the diverse experiences gaming offers the player. Within the space of a few hours, a player can go from having a career as an interior decorator in Sims, to training as an archer under Niruin in Skyrim. I believe video games have so much more to teach humanity about community, kindness, and loyalty, and I enjoy the opportunity to bring concepts of the like into literary pieces.

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