The recent release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt‘s next-gen update has given many fans the perfect reason to dive back into the game, including the plethora of unique quests it has to offer. While this RPG isn’t on the scale of something like FromSoftware’s Souls-like games in terms of nail biting challenges, the nature of several of The Witcher 3‘s quests and the difficulty options available can make them tense affairs.
That can mean anything from tough boss fights to difficult story decisions to make and everything in between. The Bloody Baron’s portion of the story is an excellent example of the latter, while the DLC expansions have some characteristically tough monsters to beat.
10/10 Collect ‘Em All
Having fun, addictive minigames within the greater game itself has long since become common practice in this medium. In the case of The Witcher 3, it’s the surprisingly engaging card game Gwent. But in a similar vein to player shunting down riddles and trophies in the Batman: Arkham series, the side quest “Collect ’em All” is easily one of the toughest and biggest stressors in the game.
As the name implies, it tasks players to hunt down every Gwent card in the game. That alone is enough to incite the ire of completionists, but things get even more grueling considering that there’s no in-game way to check which cards Geralt does and doesn’t have.
9/10 Jenny O’ The Woods
The Witcher 3 begins to truly open up to the player when Geralt of Rivia arrives in Velen. And while there are many compelling main quests to progress through, there are some equally captivating side stories, including the DLC quest The Witcher 3‘s next-gen update includes.
“Jenny o’ the Woods” is an early-game side quest that tests players’ early mettle, tasking Geralt to quell a wraith from ruining a village’s fields. The titular wraith herself deals some heavy damage for such an early quest, heavily incentivizing players to learn how to properly use the Yrden sign to exploit these monsters’ natural weaknesses instead of brute-forcing their way to a kill.
8/10 A Towerful Of Mice
For as grim as it is, “A Towerful of Mice” is one of the best side quests in The Witcher 3. It perfectly fits into the dark fantasy world of The Continent and plays with supernatural European folklore. This quest’s stress comes twofold: a rather tough boss fight and a brutal decision to make at the end of it.
As with any wraith, these can be dangerous for newcomers – and those playing on high difficulty – as these monsters can easily sap Geralt’s health. Likewise, as with many compelling quests in the game, it requires making an imperfect choice when deciding to accept the wraith’s deal or reject her – along with the fallout it results in.
7/10 Carnal Sins
In the world of The Continent, Geralt of Rivia effectively functions as a detective in his duties as a witcher, as well as a tracker. And in “Carnal Sins,” players must be at their sleuthing best to uncover the identity of a serial killer running around the medieval urban jungle that is Novigrad.
It’s not stressful in the conventional sense, but where that factor certainly kicks in is in what choices Geralt makes along the way. Someone attempted to murder Priscilla, though she was not the first victim. If certain wrong choices are made, the killer’s identity will never be discovered and can prematurely end the quest.
6/10 For The Advancement Of Learning
Following up on “A Towerful of Mice” is the side quest “For the Advancement of Learning.” This is another one of the side quests in The Witcher 3 that injects stress through tough decision-making. After joining Keira Metz on the former quest to uncover the secrets of Fyke Island and what led to its demise, she reveals that she was always after the sadistic mage Alexander’s experiments to try to buy her immunity from the mad witch-hunting King Radovid.
There, Geralt is faced with the choice of trying to stop her or be lenient with her. One path leads to the monster hunter having to fight and kill Keira, while the other would make her an ally at Kaer Morhen for the greater fight ahead. It’s another shining example of how The Witcher 3 is an RPG with some of the best side quests available.
5/10 The Whispering Hillock
Phillip Strenger – better known as the Bloody Baron – is far from being the most likable of The Witcher 3‘s cast of characters, but he’s certainly one of the most tragic and well-written. In “The Whispering Hillock,” Geralt finds a mysterious tree spirit hidden in a cave that’s been driven there by the Crones of Crookback Bog.
Decision-making is another key component in this story’s tension, as whether Geralt chooses to help or kill the spirit can result in several gruesome ways. An incredibly high-stakes affair, this will indirectly decide the fate of the orphans in the bog, the woman who cares for them, the residents of Downwarren, and the Baron himself. What’s more, the outcome of the Baron’s side story also depends on when players take on this quest.
4/10 Return To Crookback Bog
Naturally, after the main questline moves on from the Bloody Baron’s bleak corner of Velen, Geralt can still see through the finale of his and his estranged family’s story in the side quest “Return to Crookback Bog.”
Once again, having Geralt make the right call in this story makes this an intense development from start to finish, and depending on what players chose in “Whispering Hillock,” they’re already locked into certain events transpiring. In one of the darker outcomes, Geralt and co. discover that the Baron’s wife has been turned into a water hag and the witcher must choose the right doll that’s possessing Anna to free her.
3/10 On Thin Ice
In the second-to-last quest in The Witcher 3‘s main questline, players will need to deal with two difficult boss fights back-to-back. The aftermath of the Battle of Kaer Morhen left the band of heroes devasted and physically exhausted, and “On Thin Ice” throws the two highest-ranking members of the prophetic Wild Hunt.
First, players need to power through Caranthir – the second in command – and almost immediately follow up with Eredin, the final antagonist himself. It’s a mentally draining but immensely cathartic fight, especially for those that challenge themselves by playing this quest on Blood and Broken Bones or Death March difficulty.
2/10 Evil’s Soft First Touches
Among several other things, The Witcher 3 was widely acclaimed for its DLC expansions. Both Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine were so rich with content that they arguably could’ve been their own standalone games. And as such, it brought a new batch of pulse-pounding quests.
Evil’s Soft First Touches is the first quest to kick off the former expansion, and once it takes Geralt to its main area, it will pit players against a variety of tough enemies. The Toad Prince is one, with the massive frog constantly evading Geralt and dealing out poisonous gas, along with a mage that deals powerful ranged magic.
1/10 Scenes From A Marriage
Later in the same DLC expansion, Geralt of Rivia is given the final challenge from Olgierd von Everec — one of the main characters of Hearts of Stone. He needs to find the violet rose Olgierd gave to his wife Iris the last time he saw her.
It’s a true final test, as “Scenes from a Marriage” imposes a high level of grit that will demand players to prove their stamina. This has Geralt fighting against a series of difficult beasts, namely the demonic Caretaker and the Wraith from the Painting; Iris herself. The regenerative abilities of both are enough to get the heart racing.