The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt Hearts of Stone Expansion is a brilliantly done DLC and sets a benchmark in how DLCs should be done. For many months The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt was supported with patches and free DLC, Hearts of Stone is the first paid DLC The Witcher 3 gets.
Hearts of Stone is mainly made up of 5 bulky chapters centered around a main story. Geralt is the protagonist here as well. Series of event lead to Geralt getting involved which begins his Grand Quest. The pacing of DLC is precise and conclusion is just masterful.
Hearts of Stone narrative is more focused than the main game and it takes place entirely within the region East of Novigrad and Oxenfurt. Some new regions are added, so existing areas had to be expanded. These new areas are filled with side quests. There are new contracts to tackle and a few tasks which will result in Geralt travelling the countryside, looting treasure and killing baddies. Hearts of Stone is 10 to 15 hours’ long, filled with mysterious characters and engrossing story with Geralt right in the middle of it.
There are various moments where player choice matters, deciding the fate of various characters and sometimes Geralt himself. Hearts of Stone is a tighter and more intense experience, as the impact of the decisions is fairly quick.
Plot is divided into several different smaller narratives which link to main quest. Each individual story has its own characters, twists and turns and they all come together by the end which makes you really appreciate the hard work CD Projekt Red have put into this DLC.
Hearts of Stone undoubtedly has some of the well written and most interesting characters seen in RPGs. Main characters like Guanter O’Dimm and Olgierd von Evrec are very well realised. Other characters including Shani, who is a possible love interest, are also very well written.
The DLC does not introduce many new enemies but it is the boss fights which are memorable and slow paced.
New Armor sets and swords are present and are very powerful. Runeword enchanting system is new but not quite as deep as others. Some useful effects can be applied to the gear just by filling slots with runestones.
The Soundtrack of this DLC is as brilliant as the core game, if not better. The Soundtrack adds to the tension of brawls, forms the atmosphere around the travels and takes the adventure to the next level.