As we find ourselves bombarded by a barrage of shared-world shooters, battle royales, live-service titles, and MMOs, it's a breath of fresh air to dive into a world that's exclusive to ours. In that regard, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a masterpiece, beautifully reminding us of the power and allure of the single-player experience. It doesn't merely champion the single-player genre but exemplifies why, even in this age of social interactivity and connectivity, spending some time alone in a virtual world still has a place - and a significant one at that.
The Witcher 3, which launched in 2015, has sold over 50 million copies, as per the latest report from CD Projekt RED.
To add some perspective, this staggering figure exceeds even the sales of other multi-platform single-player RPGs, namely The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which had sold more than 30 million copies by 2016.
However, the success of The Witcher 3 goes beyond the numbers.
Trends are everything in the gaming industry. The current inclination is multiplayer and shared experiences, preferably live-service games that can be updated, expanded on, and improved after their launch. Titans like Fortnite, Destiny 2, and even Grand Theft Auto V, offer a mix of story campaigns with online multiplayer modes. But, The Witcher 3 deviates from this. It does the exact opposite of the multiplayer trend, instead focusing on delivering a solid, engaging, and immersive single-player experience.
And, while it doesn't consistently make headlines for having a fresh rotation of content, The Witcher 3 succeeded in giving players the opportunity to lose themselves in a rich and expansive world on their own.
The world of The Witcher 3, as well as the franchise as a whole, is home to nuanced characters with an engrossing storyline that encompasses the entire narrative. These are elements that, due to the lack of other players, allow one to truly engage with the game on a much deeper level.
Critics and gamers alike have highlighted the importance and attraction of solitary gaming experiences. These experiences provide an escape, a chance to exist as the ruler of your own universe and to explore vast terrains as well as compelling narratives on your own. The Witcher 3, and more recently, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, have received plenty of praise for satisfying this need.
But, why does this experience resonate so powerfully with players? For most, it's the depth and immersion. The engaging experience is good for hundreds of hours of enjoyment. Many gamers, after two playthroughs, continue to find themselves coming back to this world, ready to invest yet another 150-200 hours in the story, characters, and the world they've grown familiar with.
The Witcher 3 isn't just one of the best-selling PS4 games, it's arguably the best single-player, story-driven experience. This speaks volumes about the game's success and highlights the continued desire from the gaming community for AAA single-player experiences, contrary to what developers might believe.
The Witcher series is a testament to the impact and endurance of a well-crafted single-player game. It's fitting to commend CD Projekt RED, the game's publisher, for their dedication and commitment to the single-player genre. It's more amazing that CDPR took this massive leap at a time when the majority of the industry was against single-player titles. Its long and continued success sends a resounding message to the gaming industry - single-player games are far from extinct. In fact, they may just be getting started.
It's clear that The Witcher 3 offers more than just a solitary escape. It showcases the undeniable potential of single-player games, a beacon that reminds us that these games can succeed and become a powerhouse in the gaming world.
Indeed, if most fans would choose one game to play in their lifetime, The Witcher III would certainly be a contender.