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Witcher 3 – What To Know Before Playing… Again

If you’re here then you’ve probably watched The Witcher Netflix series and it inspired you to pick up the game. Either for the very first time or like me after starting and stopping intermittently for two years. The Witcher 3 is an amazing game and while the Netflix series is good, it’s just the tip of the iceberg for the amount of story and experience you’re going to get playing as Geralt. The Witcher 3 is an amazing open-world game that’s huge and chock full of things to do. It may get a little overwhelming but we’re about to toss a coin to you, Witcher.



I forgot all the controls for the game when I first started and kept accidentally eating my herbs before battle. Oh and I forgot how to run, so for those that are coming back, here’s a quick look at the controls. I’m playing it on PC but have a control hooked up, it’s preferential but I prefer playing this way.


Signs And Their Upgrades

Just a quick update on the signs you’re going to be using in battle. And its most useful upgrade. What you’re going to upgrade really depends on your playstyle but I highly recommend getting Quen to Exploding Shield level.

Aard: A directed blast of telekinetic energy that staggers opponents, leaving them open again for a subsequent attack.

  • Aard Sweep: The alternate sign mode works well when dealing with large groups of attackers allowing Geralt to knock back whole groups at once.

Yrden: Magic trap that slows enemies who enter its area of effect. Effect duration: 13 seconds.

  • Magic Trap: A important defensive alternate sign that will not only damage and slow enemies that enter the trap, but also destroys projectiles that fly through it. This is important when dealing with ranged attackers.

Quen: Protective shield that lasts until it has absorbed damage totalling 5% of maximum vitality.

  • Exploding Shield: In the early game, this ability allows the player to be more aggressive by damaging and knocking back any enemies that manage to break the shield. This gives the player additional time to recover should the fight be harder than initially thought.
  • Active Shield: This upgrade not only blocks all incoming damage as long as sufficient stamina exists, but it also gives Geralt the ability to heal rapidly in combat.

Axii: Charms an opponent’s mind, temporarily eliminating him from combat. Effect duration: 7 seconds.

  • Delusion: The first Axii ability is something you should seek to unlock first. It is used throughout the game to seek alternative solutions to problems via extra dialogue options. Spending three points here will guarantee the success of any alternate dialogue options that can be influenced by Axii.

Igni: A directed fiery blast that damages enemies. Damage scales with Sign intensity. Current damage: 128.

  • Melt Armor: This upgrade to Igni will weaken an enemy’s armour up to 75% when fully upgraded allowing Geralt to improve his damage-dealing potential in any fight. This is one of the easiest ways to increase damage-dealing capacity

The Importance Of Alchemy

Alchemy is going to be one of your main skills in The Witcher 3. Most of the loot you’ll gather during your travels will likely serve a purpose later on, and it’s advised to spend a few minutes in the alchemy tab and check for available recipes. From here you can create oils for your weapons, bombs, and potions. More recipes will become available for purchase from merchants and as loot, so always keep an eye for them. Swords and signs are important, sure, but never underestimate the use of potions prior to and during combat. Take note that if you drink too many potions at a time Geralt can poison himself and begin losing health. But don’t worry, you can always meditate or use White Honey to clear the poisoning.

Pro Tip: Brew basic potions as quickly as possible, especially the Swallow. As long as you have Alcohest in your equipment, your potions supply will replenish automatically each time you meditate. Alcohest is easily available, you can gather lots of it by looting chests.

On top of potions, you’ll also be able to make oils. Oils will give your weapons a temporary upgrade you can apply to weapons on top of their default stats. Each oil has a particular purpose. Most of them will increase the effectiveness of your swords towards a type of enemy. A Witcher never leaves home without a few oils in the inventory.


Dodge Rolls and Parrying

Let’s refresh the buttons in battle. X is a dodge roll. O is for parry (with direction) and hold L2 to block or counter if you timed it well. Whenever Geralt dodges, he makes a short and quick movement in the direction you press with the O button simultaneously. The rolling’s action is similar, but you cover more ground and the animation takes longer until he’s back on his feet. The basic rule is generally to roll away from monsters that usually have a larger attack. And parry human enemies or in close quarters combat.

Pro Tip: Time a good parry by waiting until an enemy’s name turns red. This is an indicator that they’re about to land an attack. Then hit your block button right before the strike lands. Just keep in mind that not everything can be parried, and that is best used with enemies from a similar or lower height as Geralt.


Switch Signs While Blocking

Depending on how much you like catching your breath in the midst of an intense duel, the super slo-mo inventory wheel that pops up can be a godsend or a pace-killing burden. Luckily, as CD Projekt are in the business of thinking of everything, you can flick between all five of your Signs with the D-pad, but only whilst holding the block button – otherwise you’ll forever be sheathing/un-sheathing your two swords instead. On PC the mouse wheel lets you do this regardless of blocking, but on consoles, you’ll have to hold down L2/LT.


Get A Saddlebag For Roach

Inventory management is crucial in The Witcher 3. When Geralt hits his max weight limit he starts walking painfully slow. It’s awful. The best thing you can do is to get some saddlebags for your buddy Roach. Saddlebags aren’t easy to find, but they’re worth the investment to increase your inventory limit early on. If you’re playing The Witcher 3 for the first time, look for a quest concerning horse races near to Crow’s Perch, in which you’ll obtain one as a reward.



Your health regenerates automatically when not in combat, and even then it only ticks up very slowly. Make sure you have at least one type of food item equipped to a consumables slot, so you can quickly use it during combat to recover some health – the longer the regeneration effect duration the better. Unless you’re playing on a higher difficulty level, you can also meditate to recover health, and you only need to move the clock on to the next hour to completely refill your meter.


Take Notice Of Boards

Whenever you reach a new village or town be sure to check out the local message boards. Not only for new contracts and side missions but also as a way to unlock new question marks to investigate on the map or even helpful bits of information on your current objectives. They’re also a good way to learn more about the politics of the land, persons of interest – some of whom you end up meeting – and occasionally the whereabouts of a specialist merchant or renowned card player.

Additionally, try and find many signposts as possible on your travels. If you see a village nearby, go there even if it’s not on your road, just to unlock a quick travel point. Later in the game, they will make travelling much easier.


The Witcher 3 has a lot more going on than just this little guide. But take your time and don’t worry it’s not all be all end all if you’ve put some ability points into something you don’t like. Just take your time and enjoy the game. The Witcher 3 is now available on the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.