The 10 Side Quests in The Witcher 3 You Absolutely Can’t Skip
“The Witcher 3” earned its reputation as one of the best RPGs ever made, thanks in no small part to its memorable side quests that take up just as much space in our brains as the main story.
That main story involves you — legendary monster hunter, Geralt of Rivia — searching for your long-lost adopted daughter Ciri, who’s the key to stopping an ancient Elven prophecy about the end of the world. Together with Yennefer (who’s voiced in the game by “Andor”s Dedra Meero), Jaskier, Triss, and fellow witchers Vesemir, Eskel, and Lambert, Geralt must traverse the Continent to reunite his family and save the world from an ancient curse and the abominable Wild Hunt.
With “The Witcher 3” next-gen update coming out this week, we’ve rounded up all the best side quests you can play in between saving the world. These are the ones you shouldn’t skip under any circumstances, even if you’re not concerned with 100 percent-ing the game. Some of them are funny, others are essential for romancing certain characters, and some are simply so memorable that they’ll sweeten your experience of the rest of the game. If any of them seem simple or insignificant, rest assured that they’ll grow into something big, complex, and surprising by the end. Most will present you with a choice, which can drastically change the outcome of the quest and even the fates of the characters involved.
Since the next-gen update contains the Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine story expansions, this list includes a few side quests from both of them. And because the update is a great way to play the game for the first time, or for the first time in a long while, this list is major-spoiler free.
On Death’s Bed
This early-game side quest is one of the best examples of “The Witcher”s moral ambiguity, where even doing the right thing can have disastrous consequences. Geralt meets a herbalist in White Orchard who’s trying to make a dying woman’s last hours more comfortable. You can choose to give the woman one of the potions that witchers use to heal themselves after fights, but she might not survive the intensive medicine. Is it better to do nothing in the face of impossible odds, or to do the right thing even if you know it won’t matter in the end?
A Towerful Of Mice
The sorceress Keira Metz asks Geralt to help lift a curse that’s been killing fools who wander into the fog on Fyke Island. Your investigation leads you to the tower in the middle of the island, which was once inhabited by a mage who used it to study a deadly plague by infecting mice with it and studying their reactions. What begins as a simple contract for Geralt turns into a tragic tale that can end in a number of ways depending on your choices — though none of them particularly good.
The Last Wish
This is a particularly rewarding side quest for fans of the books and the Netflix show. Geralt and Yennefer hunt a djinn to remove the spell that bound them together in the season 1 episode “Bottled Appetites”. With the spell lifted, they can finally define their relationship on their own terms. The Last Wish is essential if you want to romance Yennefer — but even if your heart lies elsewhere, there’s a big emotional payoff from closing this chapter of Geralt’s life.
A Matter Of Life And Death
A Matter of Life and Death is the equivalent of The Last Wish for anyone who wants to romance Triss. Set against the backdrop of the violent witch hunts in Novigrad, Triss and Geralt attend a masquerade ball to smuggle a high-ranking lady’s son out of the city. Despite the dire situation, there’s lots of fun to be had at the ball — including a gwent tournament — and Geralt and Triss can end the night with a kiss under fireworks.
Speaking of gwent, High Stakes sees Geralt enter a lucrative tournament at the Passiflora in Novigrad. You’ll need a good deck to stand a chance at winning, but it’s your only chance to collect certain rare cards. As well as providing some of the game’s most challenging gwent competitors, the quest involves a robbery, subterfuge, and a one-night stand for Geralt.
During the main story in Skellige, Geralt can help Cerys an Craite complete a task that will make her worthy of becoming the region’s new queen. Possession steers “The Witcher” into horror territory, with Geralt forced to make an impossible choice to defeat a monster that feeds off people’s guilt. It’s one of the game’s most memorable side quests and also helps ensure a peaceful future for Skellige.
Take a break from slaying monsters to help catch a serial killer who’s been terrorising the streets of Novigrad. Geralt will rely on his Witcher senses a lot during this quest, including to assist during an autopsy to uncover the killer’s identity. The beauty of this quest is that it’s entirely possible to get it wrong — the killer will still be out there and more dead bodies will be found if you pin it on the wrong suspect.
This side quest from the Blood and Wine expansion involves a demon and hallucinogenic mushrooms, but all of that is just an excuse for Geralt to talk to his loyal horse Roach. After drinking a potion brewed from the mushrooms, Geralt can communicate with animals, a discovery that leads to him asking Roach a lot of fan service questions like, “How come you magically appear whenever I whistle?”
Return to Crookback Bog
During the game’s first act, Geralt is roped into helping the menacing Bloody Baron in exchange for information about Ciri’s whereabouts. Your decisions during these main story missions come to a head in Return to Crookback Bog, which serves as an epilogue to one of the game’s best storylines. It’s essential playing for that alone.
A Portrait of the Witcher as an Old Man
Unlike the other side quests in this list, A Portrait of the Witcher as an Old Man has zero consequence for the rest of the story. It’s still unwise to skip it, simply because it’s so delightful. While in Beauclair during the Blood and Wine expansion, Geralt meets an artist who offers to paint your portrait. You have a choice between three poses: Geralt on horseback, standing with a sword, or lying down — but he’ll be naked in all of them. Perfect! No notes.
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