The Witcher 3 expansion Hearts of Stone will be released 13th October, CD Projekt Red has announced. This is the first of two planned expansions; the second, Blood & Wine, arrives Q1 2016.
Hearts of Stone will introduce a new gameplay mechanic called Runewords that "significantly" affect gameplay, says the press release. "Each Runeword will impact a different aspect of in-game mechanics and will allow the players to experiment with various strategies and tactics." It also has new monsters, new characters and a new romance.
Hearts of Stone can be accessed any time throughout The Witcher 3 campaign but is designed for Geralt characters level 30 or higher. It takes place in the wilds of No Man's Land, near Novigrad and Oxenfurt, and involves a contract to kill a bandit captain who possesses the power of immortality. No pressure. Your path through the expansion is up to you. You can recruit break-in artists and party with a ghost, apparently. Judging by the below trailer, Geralt is also a prisoner for at least some of it.
Hearts of Stone lasts around 10 hours and costs $9.99 alone (around £7). Or you can buy a limited boxed edition of the expansion for $20/€20 that includes physical Gwent cards - Monster and Scoia'tael decks - as well as a code for the expansion itself. Or you can by Hearts of Stone as part of a two-pack Expansion Pass for £20. The second expansion, Blood & Wine, is bigger and more expensive, targeting a $20 price point.
If you already own the Expansion Pass but would also like to buy the physical Gwent cards (they are different packs to those in the Collector's Edition of the Xbox One Witcher 3 game), you can do so, separately. Head to a special mini-site for instructions how.
GOG is currently having a Witcher-related sale that ends tomorrow. In it, The Witcher 3 is 30 per cent off (£35), The Witcher 2 just £1.99, and The Witcher 99p.