‘The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’ Is Not an Open World Game & Here’s Why

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There are many differences between all three games in the Witcher series. With every new installment combat, graphics, NPCs, and other mechanics have been improved. One more aspect that’s been much improved is the exploration and the map. Witcher 1 and 2 allowed for a moderate amount of freedom when it comes to exploration and the third installment Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt allowed you to explore fully one of the largest game maps we’ve ever seen. Due to that, many people who haven’t had the pleasure to experience the world of Witcher 3 firsthand are wondering whether Witcher 3 has an open world?

  • Article Breakdown:
  • In a practical sense Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is an open-world game. It gives you complete freedom to roam the regions without loading screens whatsoever.
  • You can quickly traverse between places of interest and hubs such as Crow’s Nest without waiting for a game to load.
  • However, in a technical sense, Witcher 3 is not an open-world game since you still have loading screens between different zones such as Skellige, Kaer Morhen, and Velen.
  • But when you take everything into account everybody still considers Witcher 3 to be an open-world game due to a massive fully explorable map and next to no limitations when it comes to traveling.

Is Witcher 3 open-world or linear?

Everybody considers Witcher 3 to be an open-world game and by all accounts it is. However, there is one technical aspect of open-world games that is often overlooked, loading screens. For a game to be a fully open world in every sense of the word, it needs to allow you to travel from one point of the map to the other without loading screens, and this is not something that Witcher 3 allows.

To travel between different zones you need to “fast travel” to them after all prerequisites have been met and this involves a loading screen. It’s not something I personally take into account when I’m rating “open worlds”, even one of the best and most popular games of all time Skyrim, is not an open world because it has a loading screen every time you enter any major city like Solitude, Whiterun, Riften, Windhelm, etc.

witcher 3 in game map cr

The answer to this question would therefore be that Witcher 3 is a semi-open world and is by no account a linear game. Compared to its predecessors Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt has an amazing open extremely vast and detailed world that is fully explorable. In one of our previous posts, we mentioned how Witcher 2 is not an open-world game, and this is something that’s been reworked with a third installment.

When it comes to all games in the series, Witcher 2 offers the least freedom when it comes to exploration and Witcher 3 offers the most freedom.

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How many zones are there in Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt?

There are 7 regions you can visit in Witcher 3 if you count the Duchy of Toussaint that’s been added with the Blood & Wine expansion. Not all regions require a loading screen between them (such as Velen and Novigrad). Those two regions are often grouped together and considered one region when it comes to various guides. Some regions like Royal Palace in Vizima are so small that they are only technically a region since it has a separate loading screen via which they can be reached. In the next part of this post, we’re going to give you a quick overview of each region in Witcher 3.

1. White Orchard

white orchard ingame map

Whiter Orchard is where Geralt’s Journey begins in Witcher 3. Geralt arrives at White Orchard looking for Yennefer but what he finds instead is a small Temerian hamlet torn by war and annexed by the Nilfgaardian Empire following the Battle of White Orchard.

2. The Royal Palace in Vizima

vizima palace in game map

The Royal Palace in Vizima served as the seat of power for Temeria’s King Foltest. Now it houses the Nilfgaardian Garrison and the Emperor of Nilfgaard, Emhyr var Emreis. You need to finish the White Orchard storyline before you can travel to Royal Palace in Vizima. This is the smallest “region” in the game and only a few quests take place here.

3. Velen

velen in game map

After you’re finished with your royal audience with the Emperor of Nilfgaard you’re going to travel to Velen – No Man’s Land. There’s a good reason why Velen is considered to be a “forsaken” region as it’s crawling with numerous dangers and horrors spawned by both black magics and the conjunction of spheres.

velen crookback bog

Velen is divided into other subregions such as Grayrocks, Crookback Bog, The Mire, and The Descent. Travel between those subregions is completely open. The zone’s hub is Crow’s Perch the biggest “city” (and I use that term loosely) in Velen.

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4. Novigrad

novigrad in game map 1300x581 1

Novigrad is one of the largest Northern cities, it is situated in Redania and thus not subjected to the rule of Niflgaard or Temeria. There is no fast travel between Velen and Novigrad however you do need to acquire a “pass” to travel between the two regions and thus can be considered “progress locked”. Novigrad is mostly an urban area with smaller patches of wilderness that can be explored.

novigrad streets

It is an economic capital and the biggest hub in the game. Even though Novigrad is also divided into separate regions most notably, I’ll mention Oxenfurt where the academy is situated.

5. Skellige

skelige in game map 1300x615 1

Skellige is an archipelago of six islands ruled by the High King (or Queen!) of Skellige. The capital and the largest city in this region is Kaer Trolde which is the first place you will visit as soon as you reach the islands. Skellige is quest-locked as well which means that you cannot travel to it freely until prerequisites have been met.

skelige islands

Skellige consists of smaller zones or islands such as Ard Skelling, Faroe, and Hindarsfjall. It is recommended to keep an eye on boats in this region as you will need to travel across patches of the open sea.

6. Kaer Morhen

kaer morhen in game map 1300x609 1

Kaer Morhen can be traveled to as soon as you finish the “Ugly Baby” quest which concludes the storyline of Velen. It is an ancient headquarters of the Witcher School of the Wolf. Kaer Morhen is a somewhat smaller zone and only a few quests take place here albeit important ones.

kaer morhen keep

7. Toussaint

toussaint in game map 1300x581 1

Duchy of Toussaint was added with the Blood and Wine expansion and can be traveled to as soon as the level prerequisites and entry quests have been finished. Toussaint is a wonderful region filled with vineyards, quaint hamlets, and fertile fields. The capital and largest city is Beauclair which houses many traders and places of interest important for the main storyline in general.

toussaint vineyard

Toussaint is a region where Corvo Bianco, the current home of Geralt of Rivia is situated, it was gifted to him by Duchess Anna Henrietta.

Is Witcher 3 free roam?

Witcher 3 is free roam to an extent. While you cannot “free roam” between the regions, separate regions are fully explorable and you can return to them at any point. This is a much-welcomed difference in comparison to Witcher 2 where this wasn’t possible at all.
Witcher 3 is the most open of all installments and features the biggest and most detailed world.

Have something to add? Let us know in the comments below!

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