The Witcher 3 turns three today, so what better time to remember why it's one of the games of the generation.
CD Projekt's epic fantasy role-playing game launched on 19 May 2015 on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and instantly wowed fans with its sweeping open world, wonderful quests and characters, and impressive visuals.
Fast forward three years, and The Witcher 3 remains a hugely popular game - at the time of publication, an impressive 16,599 people were playing on Steam.
So, what made The Witcher 3 so great? I thought I'd do through the Eurogamer archive to find out.
Let's start with Eurogamer's The Witcher 3 review, which awarded the game an essential badge. "A majestic, earthy open-world adventure with great integrity and personality, this is the best role-playing game in years," wrote Oli Welsh.
Oli's final paragraph is worth republishing, since it, for me, crystallises the appeal of the game:
"It is crass in some places and overreaching in others, but despite its grandeur and its fantastical setting, it is a game made by, for and about human beings. It's lewd and perverse and poetic and hot-blooded. It's huge yet crafted; its systems are purposeful and it doesn't have a whiff of design by committee. It will last you months, yet not waste your time. Above all, it has a vivid, enduring personality, something that is exceedingly rare among its breed of mega-budget open-world epics (and that will probably be rarer still once Hideo Kojima and Konami part ways later this year). For my money, it's the greatest role-playing game in years."
As people continued to play The Witcher 3 post-launch, so we continued to report on the game. Predictably, The Witcher 3 would end up one of Eurogamer's games of 2015. Here's our Robert Purchese and resident Poland correspondent writing eloquently about why it was special for him:
"I loved the Bloody Baron, that abusive brute who defied my early judgement. I loved Kiera Metz. I loved the jokes, the referential nods, the handmade camera angles, even the breasts in my face - they all added up to character, to soul."
In May 2016, expansion Blood and Wine brought The Witcher 3 to a fitting end, according to Johnny Chiodini's review. In awarding the expansion an essential, Chiodini wrote: "In the second and final expansion for The Witcher 3, Geralt is whisked off to an opulent region of bold knights and boastful deeds; one that might just be the most beautiful open world ever seen in a video game. The Temeria of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was often a grave and unforgiving place where pockets of colour fought for their place in the world. Toussaint, meanwhile, is all bravado; a rich colour palette bursts from every corner, the armour is frilly and pompous, and the city guards issue warnings in rhyming couplets for crying out loud."
Geralt's story was over, but we at Eurogamer were not done with The Witcher 3. Writing in August 2016, Eurogamer contributor Nathan Ditum declared The Witcher 3 one of the best war games there's ever been. Here's the setup:
"The thing that The Witcher 3 does best, better than most other games, is war. This doesn't sound remarkable until you consider the huge number of games that are specifically about war - that make you do war and be in it - and that war itself never appears in The Witcher, at least not directly. We see battlefields and garrisons, occupations and barricades, but never open conflict. War is in a constant state of passing through, enormous and unseen, always at some distant proximity, but written into the land of The Witcher 3 and the people on it, in magic and misery."
My final pick for this roundup a feature titled, The making of The Witcher 3's greatest villain, by Kirk McKeand (now of VG247). It's all about Gaunter O'Dimm, who, you guessed it, is The Witcher 3's greatest villain. Here's a snippet:
"O'Dimm blends in: with his everyman face, plain clothes and bald head, he could be any other NPC. Perhaps even one you'll save on the road later. You'd never guess you'd just met Geralt of Rivia's most dangerous foe."
Now, in early 2018, there's little new to say about the brilliance of The Witcher 3. But it is precisely because it was such a wonderful, memorable game that so many are so excited to see CD Projekt's next title, Cyberpunk, at E3 in June.
Until then, happy birthday The Witcher 3!