The first expansion for The Witcher 3 is a fantastic ride. It starts out much like any other quest: you have a contract you must fulfil, a monster to kill. But that goes sideways when Geralt is captured, then freed and has to satisfy the three impossible wishes of the immortal nobleman Olgierd von Everec that takes you to participating in a bank heist to being possessed by a ghost, to jumping into the memories of a dead woman.
Hearts of Stone in a nutshell and without spoiling the storyline too much , is simply more Witcher 3. While it has a sidequest or two, the Olgierd questline, which is quite meaty in itself, should take you up to 10 hours. The writing is excellent and melds most of the strengths of the game, although the moral dilemmas that the series is known for is more or less downplayed here. The narrative weaves the seriousness and humourous aspects of the main game deftly, with the bank heist being set up much like heist films or the hilarity that comes with being possessed by a rowdy ghost. The narrative is a joy that like the main game, pulls from folklore, genre fiction and cinema to provide an excellent adventure.
In terms of new mechanics, the game doesn’t overhaul itself although it adds one feature where your runes can be crafted together to create new abilities onto the sword. Additionally, there is no new landmass of the game, but it does take place primarily in the north-east corner of the Velen/Novigrad map, which before this expansion one was unlikely to have explored all too much, so in part the area should feel pretty fresh, especially if one hadn’t played the game since they completed it before the expansions were released like myself.
As far as DLC goes, this is one of the better ones; the closest thing I could compare it to it the Knights of the Nine expansion for Oblivion and in terms of scale, it’s about the same more or less. It’s also only about $12 AUD so it’s not too badly priced. So if you have The Witcher 3 and liked it, then this should be a no brainer as it is consistent with the quality of the base game. Definitely worth picking up.