Alchemy is something you'll find in many fantasy RPG titles, but in the world of The Witcher it is of particular importance. All Witchers are trained experts in alchemy, and are mutated so they can gain resistance to the toxicity present in the potions they conjure (that would also be fatal to most humans).
This element of alchemy was already very important in the saga written by Andrzej Sapkowski, and was naturally adapted by CD Projekt Red and added to the games. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt sports some differences in the mechanics compared to what we saw in The Witcher 2, but alchemy's relevance remains.
On lower difficulties you can mostly make do without alchemy if you don't want to be bothered with it, but if you want to increase the challenge and play on a higher difficulty, you will need alchemy to get that extra edge during combat.
You can create potions, oils for weapons, bombs and Mutagens, in a process that has been simplified since it first appeared in the previous games, but that can still be a bit overwhelming for beginners. If that is the case, enjoy this little guide on the alchemy in The Witcher 3, so that you can have a clearer idea of how you can take advantage of this part of the game.
Crafts of Alchemy
The most obvious product when practising alchemy is potions, which grant several effects on Geralt, like fast stamina regeneration or dark vision. You can also create special oils to apply on your weapons, increasing the damage done to certain types of creatures or guaranteeing peculiar effects. Less conventional is the use of alchemy to create bombs, which should be saved for moments when you find yourself in real danger, since they can most certainly turn a battle in your favour. Finally, you can create Mutagens, used to improve the skills of your character. Alternatively, Mutagens can also be transformed into powerful potions.
Tools of the Trade
Unlike the gear Geralt can equip that requires specialised blacksmiths, you can create alchemic products at any time and place in the game. Geralt is, after all, a master alchemist. You will however need materials to create the various items available to you.
The overwhelming majority of potions and oils require different types of plants, and these are scattered around the game world, but there are other materials you may need, like a monster's brain or a certain creature's saliva. While playing you will collect many resources, but some specific ingredients may prove hard to find. If that's the case, you can visit one of the many herbalists that exist in the world of The Witcher. The ingredients are not cheap (especially at first), but it is a viable alternative if you need something fast.
Recipes and Formulas
When you begin the game, Geralt will already have access to several potions and oils, but to produce new products you will need to find formulas and recipes in the game world. You can acquire formulas through vendors, or you can find them among the spoils of enemies or in the chests dotted around the world. Once you learn to create a potion or oil, you will be able to produce this item as often as you wish, provided you have the necessary ingredients.
One big difference between Witcher 3 and Witcher 2, is that Geralt can refill the potions he creates without the original ingredients needed to create the potion. As long as you have the empty remains of a potion and alcohol in your inventory, Geralt will automatically refill all empty potions when he meditates. Just an hour's meditation is enough to refill all potions. This change implemented by CD Projekt Red has greatly enhanced most players access to potions, making them much more practical and usable.
Witchers in general, and Geralt in particular, have a large inherent resistance to the toxic effects of potions, but they're not completely immune to them. Under the health bar you can see a small bar with a skull, that indicates Geralt's level of toxicity. When it reaches 100% Geralt dies. This means you cannot drink all the potions you want at once, you must choose the best course of action for each situation and control Geralt's level of toxicity. After meditating or waiting for a short while, the toxicity levels will begin to wear off. Alternatively you can use some natural products to quickly clear the toxic effects of potions.
Use your Bestiary
The Witcher 3 includes a vast bestiary crammed full of detail regarding the creatures that you'll meet during your adventure. If you're thinking about cranking up the difficulty and you're wanting to use alchemy as an aid during your adventure, then this bestiary will be your best friend. Its here that you'll find information regarding the specific weaknesses of each type of creature, or which are the most potent oils that increase damage, or what bombs can stun or deny the effects of the creatures. Not all fights require potions, oils and bombs, but if you think you are about to face a more powerful enemy, learn their weaknesses and get ready with the respective potions, oils and bombs.
Expect the Unexpected
Before the most dangerous battles you should always try to take advantage of the bestiary of Witcher 3 if you're to properly prepare for the fight, but this is not always possible. At any time during your adventure you may find creatures for which there is no time to research, and in these situations it's always good to have a selection of potions on hand to improve your chances of survival. At the very least make sure that you're always carrying at least Swallow (regenerates vitality) and Tawny Owl (regenerates energy), since both are unlocked from the get go. This way you can always ensure some backup during a dire situation.
We hope this guide has helped you understand a little better how the Witcher 3's alchemy system works. We will continue to publish more articles and guides on this massive open-world RPG, but until then, check out our review and beginner's guide.