There are many reasons why Witcher 3 is a great game- its amazing graphics whose full scope- the graphics card industry is still trying to come in terms with, well-developed and memorable characters, amazing lore, game play mechanism, soundtrack amongst other things make this game truly remarkable.
But these things are not unique to the Witcher 3 many other games also have it. Moreover many other amazing features of this game which stem from it being an open world RPG game does not really make it a path breaking game regardless of how great it maybe.
What make the Witcher 3 a path breaking game is that it blurs the lines between the entertainment we get from watching TV series and playing video games. This phenomenon has not been talked about a lot because it can be noticed only by casual gamers like me who can get time to play the game for a maximum of 60 minutes each day, not by professionals who can play for hours at a stretch many of whom have also brought to us many well written and produced reviews for this game.
As anyone who has played this game could tell you- most of the time spent playing this game is not spent engaging with the main story, but it is spent in finding cool new equipments, completing side missions, taking contracts, dealing with monsters or other hostile people like bandits who happens to be in your path or taking part in games like boxing matches, horse racing or card games.
But each of these activities which take up most of your time while playing the game have a substantial back story to it. Almost nothing in the Witcher 3’s massive open world is there without reason. So, when you are completing these tasks which is not directly linked to the main story you are often part of a different story which can be categorized from being a tragedy to being a comedy and everything in between like drama and action.
Moreover completing many of these tasks will take you around 20 minutes – the average time for a 30 minutes TV show (without ad breaks). But not only do ads not pop out in the middle of the story to take away your immersion but you also interact with the surrounding, talk to people, observe and be subject to the beautiful dynamic climate and environment.
Moreover, not only the main story but many of these side quests can have very different conclusions based on the choices that you the player make. This gives the same feeling of TV series reruns when you engage with a side quest when you re-play the main story which a large section of gamers have done. But it is better than TV reruns because unlike in TV the ending could be very different from what it was the last time.
Also, an added bonus is that the combat mechanism of Witcher 3 is very good. I know it is not to liking of many but if the Assassin’s Creed franchise is planning to integrate the Witcher combat style to its own franchise then, I think it would be safe to say that most people including me (even though I play exclusively on the keyboard) find the fight mechanics highly satisfying.
As a side note, another thing that really satisfied me as an Indian is that in many of these side quests you can take a Gandhian route i.e. not engage in violence but try to solve the problem peaceful.
So, the Witcher takes everything we love about television and makes it better and lets us engage with the story and give it a personalised touch with our own choices. This could be a future template for television where the writers can engage more with the audience- not by cowing down to popular demand but in giving different audiences the opportunity to see how the story progresses when the choices they desire are made.
Therefore, the Witcher 3 is a path breaking game not because it is a great game which most of us can agree that it is but on the account of it opening up a new possibility to there being a credible alternative to television if the producers of the TV programs do not invest in the future demand of its viewer for more choice based viewing within the same program. The threat of video games to television will be increasingly felt as graphics in games are rapidly becoming more and more realistic and with the coming of the VR.