You Can Play ‘The Witcher 3’ Without Playing the First Two Games & Here’s Why

Witcher 3 characters 1

A lot of players new to the Witcher series are considering picking up the game and trying it out. If you’re not familiar with the series at all and if you’re first taste of the universe was a Netflix series you might wonder how connected all three games in the series are. And how are those games in turn connected to the book series that preceded them? Fear not, we’re here to answer all your questions regarding the Witcher game universe, let’s see can you play the Witcher 3 without playing the first two games in the series.

  • Article Breakdown:
  • You absolutely can play Witcher 3 without playing Witcher 1 and Witcher 2.
  • All three games are directly connected, Witcher 2 serves as a direct sequel to Witcher 1, and Witcher 3 in turn serves as a direct sequel to Witcher 2.
  • However, it’s important to note that it’s not necessary to play the previous games in order to understand the objectives, quests, and goals of the game.
  • You can always make use of the extensive in-game journal and tutorials that serve to familiarize you with the mechanics and universe of the games in general.

How are Witcher games connected to the books?

Before we can explain the connection between the individual games we need to explain their connection to the book series written by Andrzej Sapkowski. The Witcher series of books consists of six fantasy novels and 15 short stories and sets the universe as a whole in which the games are set. The books follow the Witcher, a specialized mutated monster hunter on his adventures. The Witcher in question is Geralt of Rivia, the main character of all three games.

The games are however not adaptations of the books, they are actually sequels to the books. The first game in the Witcher series follows the events that transpired during the last book in the series called The Lady of the Lake.

If you wish to enjoy the game series to the fullest I highly recommend you read all the books, if you however are not interested in the lore all that much, that’s fine as well. The game explains fully and wholly the characters, the world, the creatures, and the magic system. It explains everything just enough to be an immersive and enjoyable experience.

Witcher 1 sets the stage for the following games

During the events of the first game You (Geralt) wake up at Kaer Morhen, an ancient seat of the Witcher School of the Wolf, you wake up with amnesia and you don’t really know who you are. The keep is attacked by a zealous group that aims to create an army of mutants, and to that, they need to steal mutagens with which new witchers are created.

King Foltest 1
Witcher 1 ends with the assassination of King Foltest, at the beginning of the second game you are accused of assassinating him

The first game sets the stage for the rest of the games in the sense that it introduces you to the world and characters that will appear throughout the rest of the series. However, it’s not important to play the first game in the series in order to understand the world in general.


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Do you need to play Witcher 1 to understand Witcher 2?

Even though Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is a direct sequel to the first game, you don’t need to play it to enjoy and understand the sequel. The second game starts exactly where the first game left off. During the epilogue of the first game, King Foltest of Temeria is murdered, and you are held in dungeons to answer for the crimes you did not commit. As the second game progresses you will either ally yourself with Roche or Iorveth and you will uncover a grand scheme set up against the northern kingdoms and the upcoming invasion of Nilgaard.

Even if you’ve skipped the first installment in the series, the tutorial in the game as well as the codex explain the characters and the events that happened well enough you will be able to pick up who’s who and what happened. Understanding the context might be a bit more difficult, but luckily for you, we’ve made a recap of the first two games.

Is Witcher 3 a standalone story?

Witcher 3 is not a standalone story, it directly follows the events that happened during the Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. Near the end of the second game, Geralt learns about the upcoming invasion of Nilfgaard, he also starts to remember Ciri, his adopted daughter, and Yennefer, the love of his life. This is where the Wild Hunt begins. The first quest leads you through White Orchard. White Orchard was the first settlement that Nilfgaard conquered, you learned during The Witcher 2 that Triss is held by Nilfgaard so you try to reach the nearby Nilfgaardian outpost in order to locate her. Both you and Yennefer will then desperately try to find Ciri, who is being chased by the Wild Hunt.

The biggest difference when it comes to stories between all three games is the fact that Wild Hunt is somewhat more of a personal story. In the previous games, Geralt was involved in the affairs of Kings much larger than he is. The third game leads you toward the goal of finding Ciri, there are powerful forces at work, yes, but it’s your journey to take.

Geralt and Ciri

Characters that made an appearance in the first two games are present in the Wild Hunt as well, such as Triss, Dandelion, Shani, Roche, Wess, and King Radovid. But even if you’re not aware of who they are, the game’s journal will happily provide the backstory.


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Do you need to play Witcher 1 and 2 before you play Witcher 3?

Even though the stories are directly connected it’s not necessary to play the first two games to enjoy The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. You will be able to catch up on the story pretty quickly if you don’t skip the dialogue options, and if you read the books in the game and codex entries. However, for maximum enjoyment of the story I recommend, that you both play the previous games and read the books.

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