Part of the joy of being a long-time fan of the Witcher franchise is recognizing some references or elements that would have been obscure to non-fans. In The Witcher III: Wild Hunt such elements take on the form of narrative choices, character appearances, design decisions, and gameplay aspects. Many of these ought to put a smile on your face, especially when memories of the first and second Witcher games are still fresh.
Needless to say, playing The Witcher 3 after having played the first two games first can be a more enjoyable experience. Apart from the fact that you'll be less confused with the plot and the characters, you also get to enjoy some tidbits of information that any other player doesn't have a historical connection with. So, here are 10 things that make The Witcher 3 more meaningful for longtime fans.
10 TEMERIA'S EMPTY THRONE
Upon reaching Nilfgaard-occupied Vizima for the first time in The Witcher 3, you'd expect its conqueror, Emperor Emhyr, to be sitting on the throne room where King Foltest usually sat. However, to the players' surprise, the throne was empty and Emhyr was holed up in his study as opposed to how we see him perched all high and mighty on the throne in the trailers. Apart from Emhyr's secrecy, there might be another reason for that.
Those who have played the first two Witcher games might have an idea of why CD Projekt RED chose this symbolism. Temeria's tumultuous throne doesn't exactly have the most stable line of succession, thanks to King Foltest's odd romantic appetite. Princess Adda, his oldest child was married off to Redania while his only remaining logical heir is also a princess named Anais after the only male heir was assassinated as a kid. This leaves Temeria with no available ruler.
9 THE LADY OF THE LAKE'S 'UNEVENTFUL' GOODBYE
The Lady of the Lake in the Wine and Blood expansion was one of the noteworthy callbacks to the first Witcher game. Anyone who has played the first one will know that it was the mythical Lady who gave Geralt the Aerondight - the best silver sword in the games.
Funny enough, she was a one-night stand option in the first Witcher game. Sadly, the Lady seemed to be in a hurry in the third Witcher game and left immediately afterward. It was truly a sad day for Geralt as the Lady didn't seem to want to at least recall the tryst she had with the Witcher in the first game.
8 AERONDIGHT'S RUNES
Just as the Lady of the Lake got a visual and behavioral update, so too did the Aerondight change. The form and the general appearance of Aerondight still remains but when the Lady handed it over to Geralt, it now had runes all over the length of the blade where it had none before, particularly back in the first game.
Additionally, the Lady of the Lake compelled Geralt not to lose it again, seemingly as a nod to how the Aerondight only costs 17 Orens when you sell it back in The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.
7 NO DICE?
Gwent might have been the mini-game of the decade but before The Witcher 3, there was a simpler way to earn some Orens in your journey apart from Witchering. For Geralt, it would be gambling, specifically with a dice mini-game or Dice Poker as the game developers called it.
It's a chance-based game which can help you earn some quick gold to help you on your Witcher quests and is present in the first and second games. Too bad Gwent went ahead and killed Dice Poker in the third game and it's nowhere to be found. Even some of the lowly and downtrodden peasants are more fixated on a trading card game than gambling, which is hilarious.
6 KAER MORHEN'S BATTERED WALLS
Kaer Morhen was the fortress of the Witcher School of the Wolf where Geralt hailed from and has seen many rough assaults both from the occasional angry mob to even armies wanting to take it. Thanks to Vesemir's guidance and teachings, Kaer Morhen's walls have withstood any attack.
However, it became notably damaged back in the first Witcher game after the private faction Salamandra attacked the School of the Wolf. They destroyed some walls and platforms and also managed to take a newbie Witcher down before retreating. It was the most recent attack to Kaer Morhen and if you look closely, you can still see some of the unrepaired damage Salamandra did in the third game.
5 MANTICORE ARMOR'S HOMAGE
The Manticore Armor's appearance might not hold a candle to the sleekness of the Viper Armor or the brutishness of the Bear Armor, but it still holds a special place in the hearts of longtime fans of the franchise. You see, that's because the Manticore armor was made to look like Geralt's traditional Witcher garb from the books and the first game.
The Manticore Armor shares the exact same appearance as Geralt's basic Witcher armor back in the first game. However, it wasn't called the Manticore armor back then, it was a mere "leather jacket," nor did the School of the Manticore was mentioned back then - it was probably a retcon from the developers and writers of The Witcher 3.
4 GERALT'S DO
In each and every Witcher game, Geralt's hairdo kept changing. Still, his most eyecatching look remains the grungy unkempt long and loose silver locks; it gives Geralt a gothic and wilder appearance. While the new hairstyle does well to make him look more mature and experienced, some fans of the Witcher might simply prefer the more untamed hairstyle.
Luckily, you're able to alter Geralt's hair (and even beards) via in-game barber but the closest to the Witcher 1 hairstyle was the "long and loose" option. Sadly, the developers forgot to include the classic "cool vampire" look for Geralt.
3 GERALT'S TEMERIAN TATTOO
Despite needing more alcohol than normal to get drunk, Geralt still manages to get himself wasted every now and then. In the quest "Hung Over" back in the first game, Geralt gets a little too rowdy with the Blue Stripes, the commando unit of Temeria. He wakes up the morning after with a strange tattoo on his neck.
Turns out the tattoo had a fun story attached to it. If you didn't choose to remove the tattoo and export your Witcher 2 savegame to Witcher 3, then you'll see Geralt again with the very same tattoo as he's bathing in Vizima. It'll only be there if you've played the second game and chose to extract a save file where the tattoo wasn't removed, of course.
2 LETHO OF GULET
Seeing Letho of Gulet again in The Witcher 3 was one of the most awesome Easter Eggs from the third game; the man was the catalyst for pretty much all the major political events in the series. You can choose to have Letho killed in the dialogue with Morvran Voorhis in Vizima, but that would bar you from such a fateful encounter.
For many fans, Letho was a character who probably even deserved his own spinoff. He was a surprisingly deep character and equal to Geralt of Rivia. Moreover, Letho was also responsible for saving Geralt and Yennefer; if asked, he'll even fight for Ciri at Kaer Morhen being a cool standup dude.
1 THE BREAKUP WITH TRISS
Oddly enough, CD Projekt RED made a bizarre decision of trying to replace Yennefer with Triss in the first game. As such, Triss became Geralt's main love interest in the first game up to the second game where their romance was at its most intense. So, when CD Projekt RED decided to bring back Yennefer, poor Triss got sidetracked.
Fans of the first two games will surely notice this right from the start of the third game. That's because the third game doesn't tell you right away what became of your relationship with Triss until only you're a quarter of the way into the main quest. CD Projekt RED chose not to show the breakup; good thing too, seeing Triss brokenhearted was the last thing half the Witcher fans want.