The Witcher

My defense of the Empress ending.

Content of the article: "My defense of the Empress ending."

In my first playthrough, I didn’t take Ciri to see Emhyr because she seemed apprehensive, so I got the very fulfilling and happy Witcher ending. Then the second time, I followed a guide to get the empress ending and it was a lot more poignant, but I still think it has its merits. Both endings do, which is why you can’t declare either of them the “best” ending, but I personally prefer the Empress one for a number of reasons.

1) Apparently, people say that the Empress ending is out of character because Ciri always wanted to be a Witcher in the books. I haven’t read the books, so I can’t dismiss that, but here’s my two cents. Let’s look at the final quest. The Wild Hunt is defeated, Eredin is finally dead, and Ciri is freed from his grasp. She’s spent almost half her life running from him, leaving behind her family and her home. And instead of taking a minute to catch a breath and celebrate, she decides she needs to stop the White Frost right away. Because even if they’re safe from the Wild Hunt, a much wider-scope danger is still looming. Which is just something that, to me, suggests that, as a Witcher, there’ll always be a part of her that will be troubled by a greater threat, one she can’t control. That’s why, when, given the clarity to truly consider it, she realizes its better to always fight the bigger fight.

2) I always chose Cerys as the Skellige monarch because it’s difficult to just let Birna get away with mass murder. I think that Empress Ciri best complements her because they’re both pacifists. With Emhyr or a random usurper on the throne, Skellige under Cerys is basically bound to be fully conquered and colonized.

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3) Probably the saddest thing about the ending is the goodbye between Geralt and Ciri. But like she says, it doesn’t have to be goodbye and they can always meet again, as seen in Blood and Wine. In fact, they part ways after the Witcher ending too, but it just happens some time after the playable epilogue, so we don’t feel the impact of it.

That said, I still have some reservations about this ending. For one, Dandelion in the narration states she inherits Emhyr’s political wits, but that’s actually pretty faint praise. Emhyr basically couldn’t even beat a much smaller and poorer nation (under Radovid or Djikstra), neither could he prevent himself from getting usurped and assassinated by his own people. Also, I have a feeling that having her cooped up in a throne room all day for the rest of her life is a massive waste of her Elder Blood abilities and combat prowess (kind of like how being a Witcher is a waste of her royal lineage).

Anyway, I’d love to hear some thoughts about this.


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