Polish developer CD Projekt Red caused a sensation with the release of The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. With easily 100 hours of gameplay in the base game alone, its vast open world gave gamers the best incarnation of this popular series yet, which is a fitting conclusion to Geralt’s saga. CD Projekt released tons of free DLC, but they also planned a series of paid expansions, of which Hearts of Stone was the first.

Players who started playing The Witcher III when it was launched may have completed the game a long time before Hearts of Stone came out, so some tips and tricks are certainly in order. If you’ve been away from the game for a while, you will definitely need to get used to the controls again. The difficulty level has been bumped up quite a lot, so if you found that the base game got a bit too easy towards the end, even on the highest difficulty level, Hearts of Stone is going to either feel just right or kick your ass into submission.

It’s a standalone story, so you don’t need to complete the base game before starting Hearts of Stone. At about 10 hours long, it’s a perfect bite-size chunk to dip your toes into. CD Projekt Red provided new players with a ready-made leveled-up character to start playing right away.

It is definitely advisable to start the expansion with some side quests before rushing into the main quest. That way you can be sure to buff up your character before the going gets tough.

You also need to explore the world thoroughly. Hearts of Stone isn’t connected to the main game’s story, so you’ll be missing out on incredible loot if you make the mistake of thinking that you’ve found it all in the main game already.