It has been more than four years ever since CDProjekt RED showed us what open-world gaming can be with The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. To this day, not many games have matched or surpassed that sort of ambition and execution for an open-world game. Suffice to say, The Witcher 3's open-world remains as among the most definitive medieval fantasy game worlds in the industry.
On the other hand, it's not without its flaws. There are many minuscule cracks and rough spots that the developers most likely forgot to buff out or fix. While they don't ruin the game in any way, certain locations tend to be generally avoided in by Geralt because of how tedious, annoying, or deadly they can be.
10 BEST: NOVIGRAD
By far, no other in-game fantasy city has been able to contest Novigrad's density and attention to detail. From the muddy gates and the town square which reeked of burnt sorceresses to the brothels and gangster hideouts, Novigrad is alive and brimming with activity, though not all of those activities are enjoyable for you as a Witcher.
It's basically the hub and the busiest place in The Witcher 3 and has the most quests and happenings per in-game square meter. As a result, you'll spend most of your time familiarizing yourself with every nook, cranny, and stinking sewer in Novigrad. The odd thing is, most players will likely never tire of walking around Novigrad despite spending half the game there. That's how you build a city in video games.
9 TERRIBLE: VELEN'S SWAMPS
One of the reasons why many players consider Novigrad as a haven despite the air of destitution and corruption is Velen. It's a vivid hellscape in the game full of hanged corpses, decapitated corpses, and corpses getting eaten by Necrophages. Just when you think you've seen the worst Velen has to offer, venture a bit down south and you'll happen upon the swamp area.
It's a fetid gloomy pool governed by three ugly witches who like to eat young people and every step you take in the water is an invitation to a drowner's lair or a water hag's hiding spot. Of course, that's to be expected since nobody likes swamp (unless your an ogre with a Scottish accent). No wonder they call Velen, "No Man's Land."
8 BEST: BEAUCLAIR
In stark contrast to Novigrad's gunk and grime, Beauclair is a radiant paradise. It's an elegant wine glass whereas Novigrad is but a moldy tankard of ale. Needless to say, entering the capital city of Toussaint is a magical experience-- something you thought The Witcher 3 will never let you experience again after finishing its main game.
For many people, Beauclair is also the closest thing you can get to visiting a medieval countryside town in France... without the plague and the rats, of course. What does give Beauclair more depth is the fact that underneath its lustrous surface is an underbelly full dark dealings and crime, often involving vampires. Nevertheless, it's a fitting final expansion for The Witcher 3 and a perfect place for Geralt to settle down.
7 TERRIBLE: VIZIMA PALACE
After graduating from White Orchard, the game's tutorial area, you most likely expected something grander and more urban. After all, Geralt said they were headed to Vizima next and any Witcher fan who has played the first game knows that Vizima is pretty much like Novigrad. Then you actually get there and find out that you're only allowed in the palace which was a wasted opportunity.
The game really could have exposed the geopolitics of the Northern kingdoms better had they included the whole city of Vizima instead of just the uneventful palace where everyone tells you what happened to the place only through dialog, it's more telling and less showing that way. Moreover, the place is just devoid of anything to do other than Gwent.
6 BEST: KAER MORHEN
Thankfully, the developers didn't pass up an opportunity to give homage to the first game by fully recreating Kaer Morhen with the new and improved graphics engine. It's a beautiful nod to how far both the players and the developers have come with The Witcher franchise. Everything that was in the first game is there, in glorious current-gen.
There are also a handful of many interactions and side quests to do in Kaer Morhen that serve as a better introduction to the other characters in The Witcher 3. Besides, some of the most dramatic and heartfelt moments happen within the battered walls of Kaer Morhen. Plus, that drinking quest with the Eskel and Lambert is quite unforgettable.
5 TERRIBLE: FYKE ISLE
Velen, being one of the largest areas in The Witcher 3 is home to quite a lot of horrific things happening all over the map. The worst of them all, aside from the witches of Crookback Bog, is Fyke Isle. It's that cursed island south of the map where you have to bring a boat the first time you access it only to be met by a squad of exploding rotfiends.
The rotten cherry on top of Fyke Isle is that damn tower where the most horrific exorcism quest in the game takes place. It's full of stairs and at least three floors, meaning you have no choice but to watch Geralt tumble down like an idiot while exiting the whole building. Beyond that, there's just nothing but bad memories associated with Fyke Isle, depending on your choices, that you never want to return there again.
4 BEST: OTHER DIMENSIONS
During your bro escapades with Avallach ("Through Time and Space"), the two of you end up in a strange and otherworldly place because of his portal shenanigans. They were unlike anything you've ever seen before and you've been to the worst backwater towns in Velen. Some of them even had unique creatures and interesting layouts that really could have contributed much to the gameplay variety.
Sadly, once you've exited the place, you're never given an opportunity to go back in there, not that it's an accessible place, really. However, the multiverse adventures were really something unique and should have been explored better by the developers at least as a Ciri expansion. It's way too late for that now.
3 TERRIBLE: CROW'S PERCH
Oh look, it's Velen again, what a horrible dunghole. It's understandable enough for the poor peasants to stay in there, not like they have any choice but only a madman would set up a fortress in Velen in hopes of becoming a lord of the swamps someday. That's the Red Baron for you. Even his palisade or fortress town, Crow's Perch, is a terrible place.
First off, the fast travel point in Crow's Perch is simply atrocious since it's situated outside the fortress walls. When you need something in the actual town, you'll either have to swim or climb or walk all the way to the top and sometimes even deal with the Red Baron's corrupt and cruel men. Again, it's not a place you'll want to revisit once you're done with it.
2 BEST: SKELLIGE ISLANDS
The timing of the introduction for the Skellige Islands could not have been any better. The game lets you set sail in the Scandinavian equivalent of The Witcher 3 around the same time you get tired of the mud and piss-filled streets of Novigrad. Once you get there, however, it's like a whole different game.
The atmosphere changes completely and everyone's more muscular and/or thick. It's a great way of giving the players a whole new playground just like how GTA San: Andreas did it with its two other cities. Moreover, exploring Skellige Isles is just a fun experience and a breath of fresh air.
1 TERRIBLE: SEAS
Of course, not everything in Skellige is favorable. The mountains are usually manageable but what's irritating to traverse are the seas. Your boats are a lot more brittle than Geralt's swords; if they break while you're in the middle of nowhere, you have no choice but to watch Geralt swim.
Oh, and don't forget to bring put bring decent ammunition for your crossbow as harpies and drowners will continuously harass your weak boat. Sometimes they'll also jump onboard prompting you to swing your blades violently until you reduce them to pieces... along with your poor boat.