Geralt of Rivia is somewhere in the vicinity of a hundred years old, so the time that's passed since his final adventure, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, would barely register to him. What's five years to a spry centenarian? But Geralt does get sentimental now and then, so I like to imagine him sitting back on the porch of his vinyard in Toussaint (opens in new tab), sipping some wine, and thinking about the good old days—defeating the Hunt, reuniting with Ciri, putting on a play, finding that lady's frying pan.
Five years already? Nekker's nethers, the time sure does fly.
The Witcher 3 turned out to be one of those games whose full shape, and impact, didn't come into view immediately. We knew it was great, writing in our review (opens in new tab) "for a game boasting all of the political treachery and turmoil common in the genre, The Witcher 3 succeeds because it puts people first. More compelling than Geralt’s lofty, heroic journey are the stories about the humdrum, circumstantial horrors of the helpless as they watch their world crumble." But in May 2015, in those first weeks, it was hard to see quite how big a deal it was.
Only with more time could we fully appreciate just how much was in there: how many great quests (opens in new tab) there were, the absurd detail put into the city of Novigrad (opens in new tab), and so many other little touches (opens in new tab). And then came the expansions, the first good, the second outstanding (opens in new tab), capping off Geralt's adventure better than we could've hoped. (Blood & Wine didn't come out until May 2016, a year later, so we'll be back for another anniversary celebration in 2021, no doubt).
In hindsight, how the hell did we pick Metal Gear Solid 5 over The Witcher 3 for GOTY in 2015 (opens in new tab)? It may be the best stealth sandbox ever, but c'mon: it's not The Witcher 3. Solid Snake never once gets in a tub. That alone should've been disqualifying.
Since 2015, The Witcher 3 has had incredible legs. A quick timeline of its life after release:
- In 2016, the minigame Gwent proved to be so popular, CD Projekt responded to overwhelming demand by announcing a spin-off (opens in new tab).
- In 2017 The Witcher 3 outsold a bunch of newer games because, well, it was just that good (opens in new tab).
- Bathtub Geralt became real (opens in new tab)
- Geralt showed up in Soul Calibur (opens in new tab) and Monster Hunter (opens in new tab)
- The Witcher 3's popularity led to a big budget Netflix adaptation of the books that we thoroughly enjoyed (opens in new tab)
- Bathtub Geralt became realer (opens in new tab)
- Nearly 5 years later, tons of new people were still buying The Witcher 3 (opens in new tab), and it set a new concurrent player (opens in new tab) record off the success of the Netflix show.
Modders are still leaving their mark on The Witcher 3, endlessly reworking its combat and upscaling aging textures. It seems inevitable that CD Projekt will return to The Witcher one day, perhaps a few years after Cyberpunk 2077 (opens in new tab) is finished. Maybe even in time for The Witcher 3's 10th anniversary. Until then, we'll have new seasons of the Netflix show, new mods to play, and plenty more reminiscing to do.
Here are some of our best stories about The Witcher 3. Happy birthday, Geralt, ya big lug.
- How the Witcher 3's best quest was made (opens in new tab)
- The Witcher books (opens in new tab): Beginner's guide and reading order
- How sex in The Witcher evolved from 'gotta catch 'em all' pinups to meaningful relationships (opens in new tab)
- The best Witcher 3 mods (opens in new tab)
- Faces of Novigrad (opens in new tab)
- The best Witcher 3 characters (opens in new tab)
- My wild night in Atlanta with the voice of Geralt of Rivia (opens in new tab)