Polish your silver sword and grab your Gwent deck, because the first of two promised expansions to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been slated to arrive on October 13, 2015. Hearts of Stone, heralded by this first teaser trailer, adds over 10 more hours of adventures to pursue, monsters to slay, sorceresses to seduce, and challenging ethical quandaries to untangle.
Geralt of Rivia, professional monster slayer, has been hired to bring down a ruthless and notorious bandit captain, Olgierd von Everec, who is apparently immortal (we’ll see about that). From the trailer, it appears that things are not off to a great start for Geralt, who has found himself imprisoned again, though it’s not exactly clear by whom. Geralt also looks to have some sort of magical brand on his face.
Related: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt review
The action will mostly be set in the wilds of No Man’s Land between Novigrad and Oxenfurt. Although the quests from Hearts of Stone will be available at any time throughout The Witcher 3‘s main campaign, it is designed for characters level 30 or higher, which is roughly where Geralt would be at the end of the game if he pursued some, but not all, of the optional quests. It will also scale up accordingly if accessed from a New Game Plus save file, as the developer confirmed to me on Twitter.
@thewillennium It scales up for NG+ if you load up a NG+ save.
— Marcin Momot (@Marcin360) September 8, 2015
The expansion also introduces a new mechanic, Runewords, that will “significantly” impact gameplay, according to the press release. “Each Runeword will impact a different aspect of in-game mechanics and will allow players to experiment with various strategies and tactics.” The Witcher 3‘s skills and mutagens already offer a deep range of customization options, so another layer will be a welcome addition, especially to players who have already completed the main game once and are looking to try new builds in New Game Plus.
Hearts of Stone can be purchased by itself for $10, or as part of an Expansion Pass for $25 that will also net you the second, larger expansion, Blood & Wine, which is set to come out in early 2016 and will cost $20 alone. You can also purchase a special, limited boxed edition of the expansion for $20 that includes two physical Gwent decks (from the Monster and Scoia’tael factions, respectively). If you just want to purchase the Gwent cards because you already have the Expansion Pass, CD Projekt Red has set up a site here so you can do so.