Table of Contents
- Gameplay Basics
- Combat Techniques
- Magical Signs
- Alchemy, Potions, Oils and Bombs
- Advanced Combat Tips
- Managing Bars: Health, Stamina, Adrenaline and Toxicity
- Witcher Sense
- Gathering Experience and Levelling Up
- What's new in Hearts of Stone?
- Campaign Walkthrough
- Evil's Soft First Touches
- Dead Man's Party
- Open Sesame! - Part 1
- Open Sesame: Witcher Seasonings
- Open Sesame: The Safecracker
- Open Sesame: Breaking and Entering
- Open Sesame! - Part 2
- Scenes From a Marriage
- Whatsoever a Man Soweth...
- Hearts of Stone Secondary Quests
- A Midnight Clear
- Avid Collector
- Enchanting: Start-up Costs
- Enchanting: Quality Has its Price
- From Ofier's Distant Shores
- Races: Swift as the Western Wind
- Rose on a Red Field
- Without a Trace
- Hidden Treasure: A Surprise Inheritance
- Hidden Treasure: The Cursed Chapel
- Hidden Treasure: The Drakenborg Redemption
- Hidden Treasure: The Royal Air Force
- Hidden Treasure: The Secret Life of Count Romilly
- Hidden Treasure: The Sword, Famine and Perfidy
- Hidden Treasure: Tinker, Hunter, Soldier, Spy
- Gwent Guide
- How to Play
- Card Types and Special Abilities
- Constructing a Deck
- General Hints and Tips
- Hearts of Stone Gwent Cards
- Achievement/Trophy Guide
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Note: This is a guide for the expansion pack Hearts of Stone only! If you are looking for a guide for the main game, you can find my complete guide here: http://www.gamefaqs.com/xboxone/702759-the-witcher-3-wild-hunt/faqs/71896.
Why hello there! Welcome to my guide to CD Projekt Red's latest expansion pack for their open world RPG title The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. Hearts of Stone is the first of the two planned expansions to the Witcher III and it continues the traditions of the main game in featuring a proper open world and once again focuses on leading man Geralt as he explores a new region that expands the Novigrad area further to the north and to the east. Whilst its gameplay is quite reminiscent of the previous games in the Witcher series, Wild Hunt puts some new and interesting spins on the formula to create something unique and entertaining and Hearts of Stone continues this trend.
This guide will provide you with a walkthrough from beginning to end helping with strategies to get you through all the tricky combat areas, detail each enemy type and how best to confront them, help you to find and complete each of the Witcher Contracts, side-quests and optional objectives, master Gwent, unlock all of those achievements/trophies and collect all of the games Gwent cards to boot.
Note: This is guide a work in progress. My current aim is to complete each mission, whilst attempting to highlight all available options and outcomes and am currently on my third playthrough trying to pick up differences once again.
As this is such an enormous game, it will take quite a while to write for! As such, I'll be working on filling out the Witcher Contracts, side-missions, places of interest, enemies guide and a bunch of other good stuff once I have finished the story.
At this stage, the guide currently contains:
- A completed story walkthrough from beginning to end!
- Started a Secondary quest guide.
If you see any errors, have a question, a tip or an alternate strategy for a section of the guide please head to the contact section and flick me an email to let me know!
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Melee attacks are where Geralt will be spending most of his time in combat and is your largest single source of damage. Subsequently players will be focusing more on melee than any other form of combat.
Geralt comes equipped with a pair of swords with which he can dish out DPS – a Silver Sword for fighting monsters and a Steel Sword for fighting humanoid opponents. Players can switch between swords at any point, but Geralt usually pulls out the relevant sword as he enters combat, so in most circumstances won't need to worry about it.
Geralt starts off with a standard light and heavy attack but can unlock additional, more powerful melee abilities if you spend skill points in the combat tree. The attacks include:
Fast/Heavy Attacks – Geralt can perform a light attack or a heavy attack. Light attacks are slightly faster, but do reduced damage. Heavy attacks on the other hand take longer but will dish out significantly more damage. As Geralt's wind-up animation for the fast/heavy attacks leaves him open to counterattacks in the interim it is recommended to only use heavy attacks on stunned enemies or those unaware of your presence.
These can be further enhanced for bonus critical strike %, bleeding effects and damage by sticking points into the respective Fast Attack and Heavy Attack tabs in the Combat skill Tree.
Additional melee-based abilities are unlocked once you start investing some points in the melee portion of the Combat Skill Tree. These abilities include:
- Whirl – This is a spinning attack that will do area of effect damage to any enemy within the immediate vicinity.
- Rend – This is a nasty overhead slash that will ignore armour and shields and do an enormous amount of damage.
Near the start of the game, Geralt is also gifted with a crossbow which can be used to perform ranged attacks against enemies. Whilst pulling out the crossbow to aim, time will slow a little giving you a slightly larger window in which to aim and fire.
Whilst crossbows remain your source of ranged damage during standard combat, their attack effects can be altered somewhat by the ammo that you choose to use with them. Different bolts can be crafted by armourers and will have different effects and damage bonuses.
Crossbow attacks can be further enhanced to slow time further whist aiming, increase critical hit damage/% and disable enemy special abilities for a brief time by investing points into the Marksmanship portion of the Combat Skill Tree.
Once you have dealt enough damage to an enemy, a button prompt will appear above their heads. Hitting the button signified when in close proximity will trigger a stylish execution attack that will kill the enemy during a canned animation. On the lower difficulties Geralt is invincible during these animations, so if you are low on health it is possible to exploit a finisher to avoid taking damage.
Note: Automatic finishers are enabled by default when you start a new game and as such you will not see the button prompts appear. They can be toggled on or off in the menu. This should be deactivated in the higher difficulty modes to avoid frustration!
Geralt has several ways in which he can avoid incoming enemy attacks or to limit or mitigate damage taken. Each of these techniques has its own benefits and drawbacks and experimenting with each in different situations will help figure out the right tactic for your gameplay style. Additional bonuses and abilities can be unlocked by investing points in the Defence portion of the Combat Skill Tree.
The default abilities include:
- Blocking – by blocking, in most circumstances Geralt can pretty much nullify the majority of standard melee attacks coming his way. Unfortunately, although it can reduce damage, it is not quite as effective when attempting to block incoming poison, fire or magical damage.
- Staggering – Geralt receives the ability to stagger most melee enemies near the start of the game. By timing your press of the block button to immediately before an enemy attack, Geralt can deflect and quickly counter with a hit that will also stun the recipient temporarily. This will leave them open for an additional follow up attack. Note that deflect/staggering will only work against melee attacks.
- Dodging – Geralt has the ability to do perform a quick side/back step to move out of danger quickly, but still maintain a short distance from a foe. This is incredibly useful for dodging incoming, unblockable enemy attacks during melee combat or during boss fights where blocking is not always an option. Pulling off a successful dodge will also give you a perfect opportunity to immediately follow up with a counterattack.
- Rolling – Rolling is similar to dodging in that it can get you out of a pinch fairly quickly. Unfortunately, it is somewhat less useful than the dodge as it will put more distance between Geralt and the enemy. This is much less useful against human enemies, but can be a lifesaver against larger boss monsters with unstoppable charging or area of effect knock back attacks.
Additional defensive abilities are unlocked once you start investing some points in the Defensive portion of the Combat Skill Tree. These abilities include:
- Deflect Arrows - By timing your press of the block button to immediately before an enemy arrow/bolt hits, Geralt can deflect it to avoid taking damage.
In addition to utilising ranged and melee combat abilities, Geralt is also privy to using magical signs. These signs have a range of functions with some causing nasty area of effect attacks, others buffing Geralt and others being useful both in and out of combat. These sign attacks will consume Geralt'sStamina Bar which is the circular bar located below the health bar in the top left of the screen.
After a brief introduction, all five of Geralt's Sign abilities are available from the start of the game, however additional bonus effects and alternate modes can be purchased from the Sign Skill Tree. All abilities within the tree can be upgraded multiple times to increase their effectiveness.
These Signs Abilities include:
- AARD – The AARD sign has many uses. Its base form acts as a kind of Jedi-style force push which can knock down enemies or cause them to stagger temporarily. Outside of combat, it can be used to knock down weak walls.
- AXII – In its base form, AXII allows Geralt to temporarily stun individual human/monster/beast enemies. This can also be used out of combat during conversations, usually to get your way or to calm animals (you can tame and ride horses doing this).
- IGNI – As a starting ability, IGNI is your major damage sign. When used it sends out a wave of fire immediately in front of Geralt. This will damage enemies and has a chance to light them on fire briefly stunning them and causing damage over time. This can be used out of combat to light torches and to complete several quests.
- QUEN – This sign is a mostly defensive one. In its base form, the sign creates a protective magical barrier around Geralt that will drastically improving his defence against incoming attacks. Once activated, the ability will slowly drain the Stamina Bar until it is completely depleted.
- YRDEN – The YRDEN sign creates a magical trap on the ground. When stepped in by an enemy, certain effects can occur, in its base form, the YRDEN trap will slightly slow enemy movement and pull ghostly creatures into a physical form.
As a Witcher, Geralt is well versed in how to find reagents and concoct a range of alchemical-themed items which can provide him with a range of buffs and grant him advantage in battle. Recipes can be purchased from vendors, given as the occasional reward during a quest or found in chests or other lootable objects.
These recipes, once acquired can be crafted from the Alchemy tab of the menu. Fortunately, after they have been crafter for the first time, Geralt will remember how to make them (he's good like that) and as long as you have sufficient alcohol in your possession, will automatically create a fresh batch every time you meditate.
The different types of alchemy formulae include:
- Bombs – There are a range of bombs that Geralt can craft with numerous effects. They can be equipped and are utilised like grenades.
- Potions – A wide range of different potions can be used to assist Geralt both in and out of combat. Potions offer up a wide ranging assortment of effects that can to mention but a few: allow breathing in poisoned areas, to regenerating health and increasing damage output. sing potions will increase Geralt's Toxicity Bar (filling this too much will result in a loss of health).
- Oils – Oils are used to enhance Geralt's weapons temporarily. For the most part these are used to increase attack damage or efficiency during combat and are often related to fighting against specific enemy types.
- Decoctions – similar to oils, decoctions are special potions that give bonus attributes, perks or qualities when fighting against specific enemy types. Typically decoctions are found in the environment and in my experience you'll locate them near where you fight new enemy types for the first time.
- Alchemy Reagents – For some of the more advanced recipes, players are able to craft some reagents themselves. These include Mutagens (which can be used to enhance Geralt's abilities) and other more hard to find constructed reagents.
Whilst the standard attacks that Geralt uses to dish out damage are all well and good, there are a number of abilities or items that can when used in conjunction can give you a little extra edge in combat.
In addition to the standard arsenal of attacks that Geralt has at his disposal, he can also utilise various elements of the environment in conjunction with his sign magic to help during combat. These include:
- High points and AARD – Geralt can use his AARD force push attack to launch enemies to their deaths from cliffs, buildings or from other high locations.
- Beehives and AARD – Whilst wandering in the wilderness you will come across beehives on trees. These can be shot with the crossbow for Honeycomb, destroyed with IGNI and can be exploited to damage enemies by utilising AARD. Using AARD will destroy the nest and the bees will then attack anything that comes close.
- Swamp Gas and IGNI – Whilst venturing in swamps, or sewers, or ancient ruins or a combination of the aforementioned locales, you'll occasionally come across swamp gas. Standing in this will damage Geralt, so it's a good idea to avoid getting too close to it. However, it also happens to be highly flammable. Using IGNI to ignite the gas will cause an explosion damaging or killing anything within a close proximity.
- Barrels and IGNI – When you come across bandit camps, guarded estates or abandoned settlements with hostile enemies, you'll often see barrels scattered around the area. Most barrels standing by themselves contain material that causes them to explode within a short time of being exposed to IGNI. As with swamp gas, these can be exploited to damage or kill enemies.
Geralt has a number of bars that you will need to manage to keep on top of a range of issues affecting Geralt's performance both in combat and out. There are four gauge indicators that appear in the top left corner of the screen and each is associated with a different aspect of gameplay. They include:
The large red bar in the top left of the screen represents Geralt's current health. If this bar is entirely depleted, Geralt will fall and you'll need to reload your previous checkpoint. Health can be restored by eating Food or by consuming Swallow Potions. On the easier difficulties, meditating will fully restore your health but this will not work on
The amount of hit points in the health bar can be further increased by investing skill points into abilities related to boosting Geralt's total health pool (Survival Instinct). It is also possible to allow regeneration of health over time (Sun and Stars) which can be found in the General Skill Tree.
Depending on the armour equipped, the amount of damage received, and thus the health loss associated can be reduced.
The Stamina bar refers to the yellow semi-circular bar located on the far left of the screen directly below the health bar. This bar is associated with both Geralt's ability to sprint and the use of Geralt's sign abilities.
Signs can only be used when the Stamina bar is full. The Stamina meter is depleted upon using a sign and afterwards will slowly fill over time to allow you to use another – it is, in essence a cooldown for your sign abilities to prevent spamming.
There are special abilities such as Whirl and Rend in the Heavy/Quick Attack portions of the Combat Skill Tree that will consume Stamina to perform a special attack.
The adrenaline meter is located below the Health Bar and just to the left of the Stamina Bar. It is comprised of three small semicircles that will gradually fill whilst dishing out damage during combat and reduce when Geralt sustains damage. At the end of combat, the bar will drain to empty.
In its most basic form, the Adrenaline meter will give Geralt a slight boost to his damage – the fuller the bar is, the more bonus damage Geralt will be able to dish out. Along with the obvious health-related benefits, the bonus damage provided by Adrenaline encourages players to learn to properly use the roll and dodge moves Geralt has at his disposal.
There are several interesting Adrenaline-related skills on offer in the General Skill Tree. They include:
- Focus will further scale damage that you do to the amount of Adrenaline available, essentially improving the base form.
- Adrenaline Burst will increase the rate of Adrenaline generation by 5%. You'll also generate Adrenaline when using Signs.
- Rage Management enables you to utilise Adrenaline to cast Sign attacks if the Stamina bar is not sufficiently full enough.
Investing points in the Combat Skill Tree will have a passive effect of increasing % of Adrenaline generation.
The Toxicity meter can be located directly beneath the Health Bar. There is a Skull icon at its left hand side. It will fill as you use potions and decoctions and slowly drain over time. When your Toxicity level reaches 95% you will reach an unsafe level – Geralt will immediately lose a chunk of health and continue to lose health over time until the Toxicity level returns below 95%.
There are several interesting Toxicity-related skills on offer in the Alchemy Skill Tree. They include:
- Heightened Tolerance will allow you to add 1% per point invested towards your safe Toxicity threshold (95%) until it reaches 100%.
- Acquired Tolerance will provide a bonus increase to your Toxicity level for every alchemy potion that you learn.
- Fast Metabolism will greatly speed up the drain-out of the Toxicity meter.
- Delayed Recovery will increase your potion duration as long as you can maintain Toxicity levels above 90% of the safe threshold.
- Metabolism Control will increase your maximum Toxicity by 30.
Investing points in the Alchemy Skill Tree will have a passive effect of increasing % Toxicity Tolerance.
Witcher Sense is a vision mode that we will be using extensively throughout the game. Similar to the special ‘Detective modes' in the Batman: Arkham games or the most recent Tomb Raider, Witcher Sense will highlight objects and areas of interest in the environment. In general the following are observable with Witcher Sense active:
- Orange - Chests, plants and other lootable containers/objects will be highlighted in orange.
- Red - Quest-related lootable objects or points of interest to be investigated are highlighted in red.
- Ripples – Enemies can be identified by ripples in the environment, allowing you to monitor their locations.
In addition to the visual advantage, Witcher Sense will also enhance Geralt's hearing, allowing him to eavesdrop on conversations. This comes in handy occasionally when trying to garner information during a quest or two.
The game's world is broken down into five maps – one for Kaer Morhan, Vizima, Velen, White Orchard and Skellige. On the maps, areas of interest are marked with a ‘?' until Geralt investigates to determine what it is. These then change to icons that include: Side-missions, fast travel points, dungeon entrances,vendors and side-tasks.
There are a few cool things you can do with the world maps to increase your efficiency at travelling around in-game:
During quests you'll receive objective markers that act as waypoints showing you exactly where you need to go to continue your quest. On the world map you can also set your own custom waypoint which will appear on the mini-map when you return to regular gameplay. You can then follow said waypoint to any destination of your choice.
Whilst waypoints are active, a white dotted trail will appear on the world map, giving you the quickest route to your destination. A small footprint icon will also appear by the mini-map with a number indicating your distance from the waypoint and arrows beside it telling you if it above or below your current position.
As you explore the world you'll find fast travel signposts. As you ride or walk past them, they will be added to your wold map. By approaching one of these and interacting with it, you are able instantly select and travel to any previously discovered destination on the map where you have unlocked a fast travel point.
You can summon Geralt's faithful horse, Roach at any time on the world map. Riding him around is much faster than Geralt's standard walking pace! If you get bored with him, you can use Geralt's AXII sign on wild horses to temporarily tame and ride them around!
The horse has three speeds:
- Walking – The slowest speed, but the most manoeuvrable.
- Canter – Hold down the run button and the horse will canter at a faster pace.
- Gallop – tap and then hold down the run button to gallop. This is the fastest setting.
A useful, yet unexplained feature of the horses is autopilot. If you hold the run button down to canter whilst on a road and do not touch the directional sticks, your horse will automatically run along the road you are on as if it were stuck there with glue – it may not always take the route you want at crossroads or forks though!
Whilst riding a horse, a Stamina meter will appear at the bottom of the screen. By tapping and then holding the run button, the horse will break into a gallop which will slowly consume the stamina bar. Once the bar is empty, the horse will revert to a walk until some of the Stamina is recharged.
Note: Finding and equipping different saddles can increase Roach's total Stamina.
In addition to stamina, the horses also have a spook meter. If you get too close to enemies whilst on horseback and cannot escape the area quickly enough, the horse will get spooked, rear back and Geralt will fall to the ground. So avoid enemies!
You'll find numerous sailboats scattered about the waterways of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. These can be used to quickly traverse bodies of water in a much quicker fashion than Geralt's normal swimming pace. To sail a boat, Geralt needs to hop on board and interact with the rear of the vessel.
In general boats have three speeds:
- Slow – The slowest speed, but the most manoeuvrable.
- Fast – Hold down the run button and the boat will accelerate.
Once in a boat, you'll be able to make out a silhouette of the boat located on the left side of the screen beneath Geralt's health bar (and other gauges, meters and bars of course). This starts off as white, indicating that there is no damage. Bumping into rocks or having enemies hit you can damage the boat. Damaged portions of the boat will be shown in red. If the boat takes too much damage it will sink and you'll be left with no option but to swim to shore.
As per your standard RPG experience players will earn experience points (XP) which can be accumulated to earn levels. Upon levelling, Geralt will be given a small boost to his base attributes and unlock a skill point. Skill points can then be invested in one of dour skill trees to unlock enhanced abilities, alternate attack types and some general stat bonuses.
In the Witcher 3 you'll gain XP via the following:
- Killing enemies,
- Progressing through story events
- Completing secondary-quests and Witcher Contracts.
- Completing side-tasks such as: Abandoned Settlements.
- Using AXII during conversations.
- Bribe people during conversations.
When you gain a level, you can use the opportunity to enhance Geralt's abilities. Within the character menu, you have the ability to peruse four skill trees and are able to purchase abilities (or ranks of abilities) by investing Skill Points. As is to be expected, the XP required to reach subsequent levels will increase as Geralt moves through the levels. The breakdown of XP required for certain levels is as such:
- Level 1 to Level 10 – 1,000XP per level.
- Level 11 – Level 20 – 1,500XP per level.
- Level 21 and onwards – 2,000XP per level.
At this point, the level cap for Geralt is level 70. This is only obtainable after completing the game and importing your save into New Game Plus mode.
The majority of Skill Points will be earned as a reward for when Geralt earns sufficient XP to level up, however you'll also be able to obtain a single Skill Point each time you discover and using a Place of Power for the first time – so stay on the lookout for those as you explore the world!
As most RPG gamers might have guessed, these Skill Points can then be invested to unlock new abilities for Geralt in one of four Skill Trees. There are three main Skill Trees available to Geralt in The Witcher III: Wild Hunt and a fourth more broadly focused ‘General Skills' Skill Tree. The Skill Trees include:
- Combat Skills – This Skill Tree is dedicated to improving Geralt's melee and ranged combat by adding additional maneuvers and increasing damage. It also helps his general hardiness in combat with abilities to increase armor and health. Abilities in this Skill Tree will provide a passive bonus towards Adrenaline Point gain.
- Signs – The Signs Skill Tree focuses on signs and investing points in here will increase the effectiveness, improve duration or add additional functionality to each of Geralt's five signs: AARD, AXII, IGNI, QUEN and YRDEN. Abilities in this Skill Tree will provide a passive bonus towards Stamina regeneration in combat.
- Alchemy – The Alchemy Skill Tree focuses on improving the effectiveness of Bombs, Potions and Oils. It also features abilities to reduce the Toxicity levels of Potions and allows Geralt increased Toxicity tolerance, whilst also allowing him to reduce Toxicity quicker. Abilities in this Skill Tree will provide a passive bonus towards Potion Duration time.
- General Skills – The General Skill Tree is half the size of the other three Skill Trees and offers an assortment of useful abilities. These include boosts to Health/Armour, a minor health regeneration perk as well as bonuses to the crossbow and Adrenaline generation.
Mutagens are a special form of equippable item that is dropped by monsters you kill. There are three main levels of Mutagens:
- Lesser Mutagens – These are dropped by the standard, common monster enemies.
- Mutagens – These can be crafted using Alchemy by combining three Mutagens of a specific type.
- Greater Mutagens - Dropped by more unique creatures or challenging boss monsters (almost all Witcher Contracts will net you specific Greater Mutagen types).
Mutagens can be used in a couple of different ways, either by providing passive bonuses to increase Geralts base stats for particular elements of gameplay, or as the core ingredient in the game's powerful Decoctions.
In the Character Development section of the main menu, in addition to Skill Trees to spend your hard-earned Skill Points on, you can also apply Mutagens to Geralt for some passive bonuses.
Mutagens come in three different colours, each of which is associated with one of Geralt's more common gameplay attributes. Equipped Mutagens will provide a bonus towards the attribute which will increase with the level of Mutagen used, essentially the bonuses for Greater Mutagens are larger than those of Lesser Mutagens. The colours of Mutagens and their effects when equipped include:
- Red Mutagens increase attack power by +5% (Lesser), +7% (Normal) or +10% (Greater).
- Green Mutagens increase Vitality by +50 (Lesser), +100 (Normal) or +150 (Greater).
- Blue Mutagens increase Sign intensity by +5% (Lesser), +7% (Normal) or +10% (Greater).
There are four Mutagen slots in total with one unlocking after every seven character levels. The fourth and final slot is unlocked once Geralt reaches character level 28.
Note: Inserting a Mutagen into all four slots will unlock the achievement/trophy ‘Mutant'.
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt's Decoctions are very powerful versions of potions with much more potent effects. Their recipes often call for specific Greater Mutagens, which will only drop from specific unique or powerful monsters (usually from bosses or Witcher Contracts) once they have been killed.
Hearts of Stone expands the northern end of the Novigrad/Velen map. Additional villages and points of interest have been placed into the game world in a vaguely crescent moon-shaped section of new land stretching from north of Novigrad to further east of the city of Oxenfurt. This is where the majority of new quests will take place and in addition to the story content, the expansion will also treat you to some new and exciting enemy and boss encounters, a series of side-quests and new sets of armor for your armor-wearing pleasure.
Below you'll find a brief summary of the additions included in the Hearts of Stone expansion.
Hearts of Stone includes eight new quests in its main storyline which should last anywhere between 8-10 hours to complete. In addition, the expansion also includes 15 side-quests which include story driven missions, romance opportunities and treasure hunts among others.
The expansion also expands world activities as well with new locations for Abandoned Settlements to liberate, Bandit Camps to deal with and Monster Nests to hunt down and destroy. Its basically The Witcher III: Wild Hunt on a smaller scale!
The Hearts of Stone expansion also enables players to find and pick up crafting diagrams for a couple of interesting and powerful new armor sets. These include
- Ofieri Gear: The Ofieri Gear is a unique looking set of armor which offers some interesting bonuses. In addition to this set of armor for Geralt (we'll need to complete the ‘From Ofier's Distant Shores' side-quest to get it all), the Ofieri horse gear provides the best Saddle, Saddlebags and Blinders in the game to date.
- Viper Gear: The Hearts of Stone expansion also give players access to a new set of powerful, high level Witcher Gear – the Viper School Gear. The elements of this set are spread in specific locations throughout the story mission, often in places where you'll be unable to return. As such, make sure you follow the guide below to grab it all as you go through the new content!
Depending on your choices at the end of the expansion, you'll also have the opportunity to earn even more impressive items which include an even better Saddle (with the ability to allow Roach to stun enemies) alongside uniwque items allowing for unlimited Alcohol for crafting and food for health recovery.
The Runewright can be found by the ‘Upper Mill' fast travel marker beneath a windmill. Completing the first side-quest for the runewright ‘Enchanting: Start-up Costs' will unlock the ability for him to enchant your armor using a range of Glyphs and Runes to create some interesting passive bonuses. Completing his second side-quest ‘Enchanting: Quality has its Price' will extend his ability to craft enchantments. Doing so will increase his mastery level and the enchantments he can offer will be much better.
The Glyphwords offered by the Runewright include:
|Deflection||1||Armor can deflect all arrows.||1x Lesser Glyph of AARD, 1x Lesser Glyph of Warding, 1x Lesser Glyph of Reinforcement.|
|Depletion||1||Hitting enemies with AARD reduces their Stamina by 50%.||1x Lesser Glyph of AARD, 1x Lesser Glyph of AXII, 1x Lesser Glyph of Reinforcement.|
|Heft||1||All equipped armor is treated as heavy.||1x Lesser Glyph of QUEN, 1x Lesser Glyph of Mending, 1x Lesser Glyph of Reinforcement.|
|IGNItion||1||Enemies set alight by IGNI have a 25% chance to set other nearby enemies on fire.||1x Lesser Glyph of IGNI, 1x Lesser Glyph of YRDEN, 1x Lesser Glyph of Warding.|
|Usurpation||1||When an enemy affected by AXII dies, the effect transfers to another.||1x Lesser Glyph of Binding, 1x Lesser Glyph of AXII, 1x Lesser Glyph of Reinforcement.|
|Balance||2||All equipped armor is treated as Medium armor.||1x Glyph of AXII, 1x Glyph of Mending, 1x Glyph of Reinforcement.|
|Beguilement||2||Duration of enemies effected by AXII increases for a further 2s for every hit they land on other enemies.||1x Glyph of AXII, 1x Glyph of IGNI, 1x Glyph of Mending.|
|Entanglement||2||When a YRDEN trap hits an enemy, a YRDEN glyph is placed there.||1x Glyph of YRDEN, 1x Glyph of AXII, 1x Glyph of Binding.|
|Protection||2||When entering combat, QUEN will automaticvally trigger without using stamina.||1x Glyph of QUEN, 1x Glyph of YRDEN, 1x Glyph of Warding.|
|Rotation||2||IGNI can strike in a 360 radius but won't light enemies on fire any more.||1x Glyph of IGNI, 1x Glyph of Binding, 1x Glyph of Reinforcement.|
|Eruption||3||Enemies on fire as a side-effect of IGNI will explode upon death and set fire to others.||1x Greater Glyph of IGNI, 1x Greater Glyph of QUEN, 1x Greater Glyph of Reinforcement.|
|Levity||3||All equipped armor counts as Light armor.||1x Greater Glyph of AARD, 1x Greater Glyph of Mending, 1x Greater Glyph of Reinforcement.|
|Possession||3||When an opponent under AXII dies, the effect transfers onto nearest target. Duration increases for a further 2s for every hit they land on other enemies.||1x Greater Glyph of AXII, 1x Greater Glyph of AARD, 1x Greater Glyph of Binding.|
|Retribution||3||Gives 30% chance of reflecting some damage back to an attacker.||1x Greater Glyph of QUEN, 1x Greater Glyph of IGNI, 1x Greater Glyph of Reinforcement.|
The Runewords offered by the Runewright include:
|Dumplings||1||Consumed food restores 100% more vitality.||2x Pyerog Runestones, 1x Tvarog Runestone.|
|Placation||1||Once Adrenaline points reach max, they slowly decline. At this time, vitality, stamina and toxicity regenerate faster.||1x Lesser Stribog Runestone, 1x Lesser Devana Runestone, 1x Lesser Morana Runestone.|
|Preservation||1||Bonus buffs from Armorer's tables and grindstones never expire.||1x Lesser Svarog Runestone, 1x Lesser Devana Runestone, 1x Lesser Morana Runestone.|
|Elation||2||Striking fatal blows give a boost of 0.1 to 0.25 Adrenaline points.||1x Dazhbog Runestone, 1x Veles Runestone, 1x Devana Runestone.|
|Rejuvenation||2||Striking a fatal blow will restore 25% of your stamina.||1x Perun Runestone, 1x Svarog Runestone, 1x Stribog Runestone.|
|Severance||2||Increases the range of both Whirl and Rend.||1x Zoria Runestone, 1x Veles Runestone, 1x Perun Runestone.|
|Invigoration||3||When at full health, excess health regeneration becomes added damage on next hit.||1x Greater Devana Runestone, 1x Greater Zoria Runestone, 1x Greater Perun Runestone.|
|Prolongation||3||Unblocked blows increases potion duration by 0.5s.||1x Greater Morana Runestone, 1x Greater Perun Runestone, 1x Greater Svarog Runestone.|
|Replenishment||3||After casting a sign, your next melee attack will damage an enemy with effects of that sign.||1x Greater Triglav Runestone, 1x Greater Morana Runestone, 1x Greater Dazhbog Runestone.|
Whilst Hearts of Stone continues the use of many of the enemies encountered in The Witcher III: Wild Hunt's main questline, it also offers up a few new enemies to encounter and fight. Some are making a comeback from previous Witcher titles whilst others are brand new to the series. Either way, there is a good chance that you'll find yourself acquainted with these new monsters during Geralt's travels through the expansion. They include:
- Arachnomorph –Fast moving and hairy spider-like monsters that often appear in groups.
- Ethereal – These enemies are shadowy versions of enemis found in-game such as Bandits, Werewolves and Leshens.
- Wild Boar - Slightly slower and more powerful than Wolves, but faster and less powerful than Bears. Often appear in small groups.
Hearts of Stone does not feature wholescale changes to Gwent as we know it on the scale of what the second expansion, Blood and Wine does (you should totally check out Blood and Wine BTW!). It does however include a number of new cards to be collected. These include a new card for both the Monsters and Scoia'tael decks to go along with several powerful neutral cards which provide an excellent addition to any deck. Each faction will also receive a new leader card with a new special ability.
These new cards can be found by either challenging some of the new DLC's characters to games of Gwent or by purchasing them from merchants located near the new zones. Check out the Gwent guide below for a complete rundown of the locations.
This walkthrough will provide you with the easiest, fastest route from beginning to the end of the campaign quest line, mentioning places to visit, times at which you need to complete various side-quests and contracts and will *gulp* attempt to cover all variations in storyline and gameplay caused by decisions made in-game.
Note: Due to the size and complexity of the game and the numerous points at which decisions can be made, it may not be possible for me to capture every alteration that occurs. If you find something missing, please let me know!
To fast travel to a chapter, go to the table of contents over to the right and use the hyperlinks to jump down to where you want to go in a flash. A complete list of each side-mission, Witcher Contract and their locations as well as a complete Gwent and card locations guide and achievement/trophy guide can also be located in the relevant spots below the walkthrough in the guide below.
Please note, this guide will most likely contain some very,very, very minor spoilers if you read too far ahead, but I have done my utmost to keep things as vague as possible.
This quest will show up in your quest log as a main quest as soon as you have installed the new ‘Hearts of Stone' expansion.
The quest requires that we ride over to the Seven Cat's Inn to the east of Novigrad and visit the Notice Board highlighted by the objective marker. This will trigger a scene and a conversation after which your objectives will be updated.
Ride over to the fresh objective marker located at the ‘Garin Estate' in the northeast corner of the world map. Enter the estate grounds and as you arrive at the manor a scene will play. During the conversation you'll be presented with a pair of options:
- “Bunch of idiots” – This will start a fight in which you'll need to beat up the group to continue.
- “Amusing, but I'm here on business”- You'll be permitted to continue.
After the scene, follow the Wild One up the stairs and go through the door to speak with Olgierd about the contract. After speaking about the contract, you'll be given the opportunity to accept it. Do so to update your objectives.
Note: For accepting the Witcher Contract you'll earn 150XP.
Upon exiting the manor, you'll be engaged in conversation by a woman just outside of the door who'll hand you a new story quest.
Note: The ‘Rose on a Red Field' side-quest is now available.
To continue with ‘Evil's Soft First Touches' we'll need to make our way to Oxenfurt. Head over to the objective marker here to find a ladder leading down a well into the sewers below. Climb down.
When you reach the floor, follow the passage a short distance to the right and you'll find a chest.
Return to the ladder and bang on your Witcher Sense. Examine the trail of footprints on the floor and follow them into the next room. You'll encounter a Drowner in here. Eliminate it and then use Witcher Sense to examine the other Drowner corpse here. Loot the chest in the alcove on the right-hand wall.
Continue through the gate and move forward for a scene.
When you are free to move again, move up to the warped grating in front and use Witcher Sense to detect a section of weak wall to the right. Use AARD to knock it down. Go through the new entrance and approach the yellow search area on the mini-map.
After another brief chat, drop down the hole in the floor. There is a group of six Drowners lurking about down here. Fight them all off for another scene and a chat during which we should examine the body to learn more about the monster lurking in the sewers.
After the conversation has run its course, another pair of Drowners will attack from an adjacent room. Kill them before proceeding through the large gate at the southern end of the room. Another pair of Drowners await in the room beyond the gate. Check out the dead end to the south for a chest and proceed through the door to the right of the gate to continue.
Proceed through this tunnel until you reach a larger, open room. A scene will play and after it comes to an end, you'll find yourself in the monster's lair. A boss fight will commence.
The Toad prince is a tough fight as not only does the boss have a large pool of health that you'll need to whittle away, but it also has a large number of damaging abilities which make it a tricky opponent.
The Toad Prince favors his tongue for attacks – he can use a long-range tongue poke as well as a short range horizontal tongue swipe if you get in close. The boss will often hop in the air if you get to close to him. If you stay put and he lands nearby, Geralt will take damage and be knocked back briefly. The Toad can also spit between one and three green projectiles which can throw gunk up onto your screen to obscure your view of the fight if you take a hit from one. These projectiles when they land, will also produce a poisonous gas which can cause damage over time if you step in them.
As the Toad's poison projectiles and their gas is nasty, you are going to want to try and stay mid-range to the boss so that you can stay out of the gas, but also be able to read and avoid his tongue attacks. The best tactic is to run in, hit him once or twice and then roll backwards as the boss will almost certainly jump after taking damage so you'll want to avoid the knockback effect that comes with his landing.
Upon defeating the boss, a scene will play.
Note: For defeating the boss, you'll earn 600XP.
Note: For defeating the Toad Prince, you'll earn the Achievement/Trophy ‘I'm Not kissing That'.
After defeating the Toad Prince and a lengthy scene and conversation aboard a ship, said ship will sink. We'll be back in control of Geralt on a beach surrounded by Ofieri soldiers and a mage. You guessed it, it's another boss fight.
This fight is fortunately, much easier that the Toad Price, even though you are severely outnumbered. There will be a group of six Ofieri soldiers armed with a combination of sabers and polearms along with a fellow bearing a shield and the Mage himself who will stay at a distance and fire of magical attacks at you from range.
The Mage has a few moves at his disposal including a sand wave attack, which will usually be fired in a straight line from the caster directly in front and at Geralt. He also commonly utilizes a circular area of effect attack during which you'll see a circle of sand appear and shrink quickly. When it reaches the centre, it will explode, causing area of effect damage you are standing too closely. The Mage can also transform into a tornado and follow you around for a brief time, remaining invulnerable to attack and damaging Geralt if you attempt to attack. He can also perform a short-range teleport by sinking into the ground and re-emerging elsewhere. The Mage, despite his age is also no slouch when it comes to melee combat with his staff as he'll be able to rattle off significant combos which can be tricky to avoid if you get hit.
The best tactic during this fight is to keep an eye on the Mage from a distance and avoiding his attacks when you see them coming, whilst first eliminating the melee enemies. AARD and QUEN are useful here for pushing back enemies if things get a little crowded or for some additional armor to guard against attacks from both the melee enemies as well as the Mage.
After dispatching the melee enemies, it's time to focus on the Mage. With the Mage, it's a good idea to keep an eye on the sand that appears as most of his magic will be telegraphed by a little sand movement. Try to close the gap to him as quickly as possible to stay at close range to take his magic out of the equation. Hit him a couple of times and when he teleports away, again acoid his magic as you approach before engaging him in melee combat. Continue to do this and keep an eye out for the tornado attack – if you see it, stop what you are doing and run, you can't damage him and he will wreck Geralt if it hits him.
Keep up the same chase down and melee attack tactics until the Mage falls.
Once you have damaged the Mage enough, a scene will play to end the fight.
Note: For defeating the Ofieri Mage, you'll earn 200XP.
With the Mage dealt with, we'll be free to head off once again. Loot the chest on the beach and the remnants of the ship before calling Roach. We'll now need to make our way to the town of Yantra to the east.
When you arrive in Yantra, locate the objective marker here. We'll need to meet our buddy Gaunter O'Dimm here at midnight, so if needed meditate to the appointed hour. When you are at the right spot at the right time, a scene will play and you'll learn a little bit more about what we'll be doing for the remainder of the expansion pack.
Agree to help Gaunter O'Dimm with his problem to progress with the quest.
Note: At this point, you'll earn 250XP.
At this point, we'll need to return to the ‘Garin Estate' fast travel marker and head into the estate proper to catch up with Olgierd once again. Upon arrival at the estate however, you'll find the place is ablaze.
Approach the burning building and a scene/conversation will ensue. The second conversation options will change the next part of the quest somewhat.
- “No need to be edgy.” – The manor lord will die.
- “Let him go, or face my wrath.” – You'll need to fight a boss but the manor lord will live.
- “Do what you will.” – The manor lord will die.
If you choose either of the first or third options, the conversation will continue and the quest will progress through dialogue. If you choose the second option however, a boss fight will ensue.
Olgierd is a tough customer to come up against and uses that sword of his to great effect. He'll move slowly around the boss arena, but can move lightning fast when it comes to attacking so you'll need to approach him carefully.
Approaching him front on will have him utilizing a series of attacks that can be chained together and can easily wipe out your entire health bar with a few hits if they land on Geralt. Staying from mid to long range from him will see Olgierd primarily use a teleport lunge attack which he'll link in with a short horizontal sword combo. He can also infuse his blade with glowing red magic and perform a lunging attack for massive damage, so if you see the sword start glowing, be prepared to dodge.
In general, he'll fight like many of the other heavily armed humanoid bosses have previously. You'll need to whittle down his health whilst avoiding his melee attacks and maintaining awareness on his location when he teleports to prevent taking an attack from an unexpected angle.
The boss is fast enough to avoid all of your offensive signs (IGNI, AARD, AXII) and is impervious to the effects of YRDEN. As such, you'll need to focus on attacking with your sword when you spot openings in his attacks (Waiting for a melee attack or lunge, dodging and then quickly following up with a melee attack of your own seems to be the best method here). Whilst doing this, it's advisable to keep QUEN active as much as possible to maintain a shield whenever you can.
Once you have dealt enough damage to Olgierd, a scene will play to end the fight.
Note: For completing the Witcher Contract you'll earn 325XP and 450XP.
Continue the conversation that occurs, the choices here don't seem to matter as you'll end up in the same place at the end. After one final chat with Gaunter O'Dimm, you'll receive the Vone Everec Blood quest item. Once the conversation is completed, the quest will be completed.
Upon completion of the quest, you'll be offered two additional quests to continue with the story – ‘Dead Man's Party' and ‘Open Sesame!'. I've opted to do the ‘Dead Man's Party' quest first in this guide as that was the quest that is automatically tracked when you receive them, although you can do the other if you so choose.
This quest will automatically be added to your quest log upon completing the ‘Evil's Soft First Touches' quest. To get started with it, we'll need to travel to Oxenfurt.
Once in Oxenfurt, make your way to Shani's Clinic which can be found roughly halfway between the ‘Oxenfurt Harbour' and ‘West Gate' fast travel markers. Upon arrival, enter the building and on the second floor you'll find Shani.
Speak with the guards first (dialogue options don't seem to change the outcome here, so feel free to choose what you like) before chatting with Shani herself to ask for her help. She'll let you know what you need to do next.
Note: At this point, you'll earn 150XP.
After chatting with Shani, we'll next need to head to the Von Everec family crypt, located at the southern end of the Von Everc Estate itself far to the east of Novigrad. As you arrive at the objective marker, you'll find Shani waiting for you.
Approach her and a conversation will kick off. Again, dialogue options don't seem to matter here so respond as you wish. Once the conversation ends, she'll hand over a Censer and we'll be ready to proceed.
Follow Shani through the first gate and she'll lead you to the crypt entrance.
Enter the crypt and follow the stairs all the way to the bottom to reach a small, circular chamber. As you enter, a series of Wraiths will spawn and attack. There are four of these in total, but they will only spawn in a staggered manner, meaning you'll only ever face two of them at a time. Beware of their teleportation move as 90% of the time, they will appear immediately behind you and attack, so dodge and give them an attack back.
With the Wraiths dealt with, we'll need to explore the crypt. We can use Geralt's Witcher Sense to examine a few items of interest including:
- The central altar in the circular room.
- Three Sarcophagi in the hallway to the left.
- Three Sarcophagi in the central, circular room.
- Blow down the weak wall in the circular room to find a corpse holding the Crypt Key.
- The Sword placed before the right-hand sarcophagi in the central room.
Once you have located Vlodimir's resting place, our objectives will be updated. At this point, we'll now need to Use the Censer that Shani gave us. Be sure to equip it as a quick item so that you can activate it. When you are ready to go, you'll need to use the Censer in the following locations:
- By the pedestal in the centre of the circular room.
- At three points in the side room with the three sarcophagi to the left on the circular room.
- At the end of the side tunnel on the eastern side of the circular room.
Once all of the rooms have been filled with smoke from the Censer, return to the central, circular room and approach the votive (the central altar) and use your IGNI to light a fire. This will trigger a scene.
When the scene ends, you'll find yourself in combat against five Ghosts armed with melee weapons and polearms. They act in a similar manner to the packs of bandits scattered around in the wilderness whom you would have encountered by now. They can be pushed back with AARD (useful when you get cornered) and stunned with AXII but should fall pretty quickly against your swords.
After defeating the Von Everec Ghosts, Vlodimir himself will grace you with his presence. After a brief conversation our objectives will update.
Note: At this point, you'll earn 100XP.
Before leaving the crypt, if you haven't already, blow down the weak wall in the central room and loot the corpse for the Crypt Key. Follow the cave here a short distance to come across some lootables (often containing crafting Diagrams, so are worth checking out). Further into this cave you'll find yourself in a web-covered area occupied by four Arachnomorphs. Clear them out and continue through the far end of the cave to reach another area with some sarcophagi waiting to be looted. Do so and use the Crypt Key on the gate to return to the main staircase leading to the exit.