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Some of the best games ever made have met not just with enviable market success but have also won the hearts of the gamers who played them. From full-fledged immersion into the worlds that RPG (role-playing) games encourage to finding smart and unique ways to ‘beating the system,’ the line between gamer and fan is not too far from each other. Much praise can be poured on the vaunted third installment of the Witcher franchise.

Like Meryl Streep either being nominated or winning every Oscar-year, Witcher III – according to Game Revolution’s statistics – holds the pedigree as the most awarded game in the Game Of The Year category, with a tally of 251 GOTY awards to its name.

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These and sundry other accolades have added to the gilded glamour of a game that has transcended the definition of ‘computer entertainment,’ and don’t get me started on the musical score (kudos to Germany’s Brandenburg State Orchestra and composer Marcin Przybyłowicz).

The game is also renowned for its rich characterization (Geralt, Yennefer, Dandelion, Triss, and more than should be named here without a proper intro for each). I adored the exquisite attention to the environment and creature detail (both graphically and lore-wise). This masterpiece from CD Projekt Red has yet to stop gathering attention since its release on May 19, 2015. It came out ready to play for those three giants in the gaming-platform industry – Windows, Playstation4, and Xbox One – and has sold 6 million copies in just six weeks.

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If you haven’t gotten too far into the game, the following secrets can be considered tiny spoilers to help point you in the right direction.

Slices of secrets

Boasting an open-world map that’s 20 percent bigger than Skyrim’s – which itself is an accomplishment – there will be little wonder if players unwittingly miss or skip select questlines and points of interest while striving to survive the Witcher III: #Wild Hunt world. Another article needs to be dedicated just to exploring the less-known nooks of the Northern Realms. Let’s leap into the first secret – more like an idea, really – on our list that a goodly number of players (me included) had no idea about even well into the game.

Idea one: Meditating heals

Aside from the Zen undertone of that heading, it is a shockingly little-known fact that fast-forwarding time via the Meditation tab in Geralt’s character menu can actually restore your vitality (or life points). This is even more useful when you lack the proper foods or ingredients to heal normally; to say nothing of what Swallow potions can do for a witcher low on health.

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It feels shameful to admit that it took me in excess of 37 hours before I accidentally discovered the Jesus-like powers of Geralt’s meditation skill, which is unavailable in the game’s toughest play-mode (i.e., Death March).

Idea two: When in doubt, always read the manual

Divided neatly into apt categories – a veritable collection of data that only a witcher can fully understand and apply – more than half your losses, repeat-from-previous-saves, and fatalities can be prevented if you spend those annoying few minutes reading up on some of the stuff in this menu. The list from left to right: Glossary, Alchemy, Inventory, World Map, Quests, Character, Meditation. Most of your workload and tension while exploring and battling as Geralt can be alleviated via the Glossary’s supreme and selective content comprising the bestiary, tutorials, character sketches, and crafting guide. Here’s a thought: you are at some time or other going to rely on fan guides and YouTube to help you figure your way through the Northern Realms. The in-game menu actually contains tips and tricks that you need to know to make things work to Geralt’s advantage. You’re going to spend, on average, the same amount of time on either, so go figure. To be perfectly candid, I chose YouTube.

Idea three: Roll your way to victory

Most of us are sure to have attempted the most ridiculous repetitions while immersed in various games if it meant winning a match or getting your character to the next stage or area. Something similar can be said of Geralt’s heavily underestimated ability to roll during combat. I don’t know about you, but when I felt too lazy or lost to upgrade Geralt by a few notches before pitting him against a bloodthirsty monster, I just used an apt sign (after a couple of survival experiments), drank a cheap potion, and rolled as often as I could while fighting. This applies to both a single monster and hordes of heavily armed goons rushing you from several directions. Choose smart, and keep on rollin’. Before long, you’re sure to have used your attacks and defenses to reduce the enemy’s numbers and/or vitality to manageable proportions. I even managed to get a temporarily weakened Geralt past the frustratingly accurate attacks of the Archgriffin in Snidhall Isle this way. Conveniently enough, you can also reduce fall damage by rolling off select high-vantages (survival not guaranteed).

Idea four: Oils and repair during combat

This is a fairly straightforward design element in a game as realistic and complex as Witcher 3 – when you fight with a blade, the blade is going to need maintenance afterward. What I mean to share with this idea is the fact that you can actually repair heavily damaged gear during combat. This is brilliant if for no other reason than because it keeps you alive during hectic face-offs. Imagine a soldier reloading his weapon. Why then can’t Geralt repair his blades while waiting to press his attack on an especially difficult opponent? In keeping with the realism, let’s talk oil usage. Oils can be used on your blade to efficiently counter specific types of enemies, but since these need careful preparation and application, it’s only reasonable that Geralt cannot coat his blades with oils during combat. I will face my humiliation head-on and confess that I never knew about this particular idea until long after I finished playing Witcher 3.

Idea five: Money, money, money

You will obviously lose some money on repairs and gear crafting, as well as buy the next best thing for Geralt – including ridiculous court attire to meet aristocrats and kings whom he despises rubbing shoulders with. Currency (and there are several: crowns, ducats, farthings, Florens, lintars, orens, and whatnot) had therefore been sparse for me during the early parts of the game. I loved the old-world experience so much that I began to collect and hoard curios and knick-knacks, especially books– don’t judge, you’ve done it too. But how do I financially compensate for such unrelenting materialism?

By making gear and selling the useless ones to the right buyers in the game, which actually earned me profits. Weapons and armor go to blacksmiths, potion ingredients to herbalists and alchemists (this is especially true of honey, sell it after you find it, don’t eat it), and so on – give the innkeepers your junk. It was such dumb logic, I will admit to feeling terribly imbecilic even as I watched the gold accumulate in my bag; this was yet another method I didn't realize could prove profitable. This certainly helped me craft prime School of the Bear gear for our #White Wolf. As you might have guessed, I aimed to bite off more than I could chew with monsters and so needed the extra defensive capabilities that the Bear School Gear brings to my gameplay style (I might be mistaken, but hey I liked the way the gear looked).

Idea six: Super-interesting location for fans

The developers have set up shop at the peak of Toussaint’s most distant mountain (this area is available in the Blood & Wine expansion). Once you use the game’s debug-free camera and teleport Geralt to the top, you will find a photo of the Witcher development team on an easel between a pair of pillars. The view, needless to mention, is as breathtaking as it comes.

There you have it, six secret slices that double as valuable ideas. You can certainly use them and use them often while enjoying one of the best games ever made. The next time you unsheathe Geralt’s blade, know that an actual swordsman’s dance-like movements went through motion-capture to make the White Wolf move as nimbly and cleverly as feasible. The next time you think ‘Meh, I’ll fight this monster naked and stream the whole bloody scene live on Twitch,’ there’s no stopping you from having your fun – except, what would Geralt do if he decided to come find you later? Have fun, Witcher fans, and don’t forget to oil those silver blades. #Geralt Of Rivia