The Witcher 3 is a sprawling single-player RPG with so much to do it can be overwhelming. The game world is huge. Points of interest litter the map. Dialogue trees mean you can play through pivotal scenes in different ways. I can think of far worse games to be stuck on a desert island with for the rest of my life. Still, I can’t imagine spending over 1,800 hours in the game like Bruno Printz-Påhlson has.
Two weeks ago Printz-Påhlson posted on the Witcher subreddit saying he had no regrets about reaching over 1,700 hours played in The Witcher 3. Over the course of emailing with him to find out how something like this could happen, he added another 100 hours, bringing his current total up to 1,851. By the time you read this he’ll no doubt have surpassed it, closing in on 2,000. And after that? Who knows.
“The quality of the story and the freedom to play your own way sets it apart from many games and those are my favorite parts, the way that the game gives you freedom without the story suffering for it,” he said in an email. Printz-Påhlson has a penchant for putting lots of hours into only a handful of big, open world games. He told me he spent 200 hours with The Witcher 2, 500 in Grand Theft Auto 5, and 600 in Fallout 4. Skyrim was the only game that came close to his current Witcher 3 obsession, with around 1,500 hours logged.
A student going to school in Malmo, Sweden, to study computers, Printz-Påhlson spends pretty much all his free time playing The Witcher 3. To put it in perspective, 1,851 hours is just over 77 days straight, or more than an hour a day every day since the game came out in May of 2015. And get this: he still hasn’t 100% completed the game. Years later, he’s still chasing a few achievements, his progress scattered across a dozen or more playthroughs, with no one of them containing the sum total of his work. You might think that someone who has played the game that much does so with a larger project in mind, but Printz-Påhlson is content just to catch the light coming over the mountains at dusk in unique way or maybe run into a tight-lipped NPC he’s never seen before.
“I’m mostly trying to get achievements and find things I might have missed like encounters on the road where I never traveled before,” he said. “I also made a new game plus but it didn’t feel as fun as a regular new game because there you had to earn money and gear, whereas on new game plus you can just buy anything and start out sort of like a god.” Currently he’s trying to destroy every monster nest in the game’s world, something he’s never done across a single save file, even after hours upon hours of blowing up monster nests.