The most endearing thing about the knights of old is not their chivalry, their boldness or their devotion to beauty. Rather, it’s how enthusiastically they use those three qualities to justify behaving like total idiots. Take Sir Lancelot in Chrétien De Troyes’ The Knight of the Cart, for instance. In one passage, Lancelot watches from the highest window of a tower as the queen rides past, gazing “attentively and with pleasure at her.” Then, “when he could no longer see her, he wanted to throw himself from the window and shatter his body on the ground below.” He tries it too, just like that; the anguish of having a pretty lady break his line of sight is enough for this valiant knight to throw a whopping, potentially fatal tantrum. It delights me to say that the knights of Toussaint, the new region on offer in The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine, are no less sincere. Or stupid.
In the second and final expansion for The Witcher 3, Geralt is whisked off to an opulent region of bold knights and boastful deeds; one that might just be the most beautiful open world ever seen in a video game. The Temeria of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was often a grave and unforgiving place where pockets of colour fought for their place in the world. Toussaint, meanwhile, is all bravado; a rich colour palette bursts from every corner, the armour is frilly and pompous, and the city guards issue warnings in rhyming couplets for crying out loud.
The vibrant, almost garish campness of Toussaint forms a pleasing contrast with Temeria that’s only improved by the addition of the surly, unkempt Geralt of Rivia. From the moment the first dandyish knights sashay into view, it’s clear CD Projekt Red is determined to have a bit of fun in its final outing with The Witcher – indeed, Geralt is such a predictably salty counterpoint to all this pomp and bluster that Blood and Wine’s opening section feels like one long, knowing wink. One of the first things Geralt does in this new adventure is find a handkerchief monogrammed DLC, and that’s just the beginning; he kills a giant, attends a gladiatorial battle in a tournament arena and is gifted his very own vineyard, all in little over an hour.