Ever since its reveal, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has won over 55 awards, so it comes as a no surprise that CD Projekt RED’s upcoming role-playing-game is one of the most anticipated next generation titles of this year, and certainly the most anticipated RPG in a long time.
Analog Addiction has caught up with the studio behind Wild Hunt, in order to talk more about the game’s objectives, back-story, gameplay, and more. Let’s get started.
First of all, let’s take a more general approach to the game.
It only took a trailer and a few details to make The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt one of the most anticipated games of 2014; almost every RPG on the horizon is being compared to it. How do you feel about being the standard for RPGs at the moment?
Are we the standard? Thank you for the compliment, it’s really flattering.
Andrzej Sapkowski is the brilliant mind that has created Geralt in the first place. Was he ever involved in creating any of the Witcher games?
Mr. Sapkowski created Geralt and the world that he lives in, but it’s CD Projekt RED who created the games. We treat his books as a reference point, an anchor of sorts. There’s a whole lot of places and concepts that Mr. Sapkowski left untouched or vaguely described and this is where our creativity kicks in.
These days, many RPGs seem to “hand everything on a dish” to the players, telling them what to do, where to go, with exploration and free-play being more of an option. That said, the Witcher games have traditionally been more player-dependent, and much less “hand-holdy.” Can we expect a transition to the more current-style in The Witcher 3, or are you sticking to the original recipe?
I wouldn’t call that “hand-holding” but we have to introduce some sort of a system that helps us push players in the right direction. I know the concept of “the place is called XYZ, go find it” might seem appealing but in such a big world it would cause frustration, rather than enjoyment. Having that said, we’re not planning on showing you a giant neon arrow saying “go here” either. The game will balance out the challenge of exploration and subtle hints in a way that everyone should be OK with.
Let’s now talk about the tale of the witcher Geralt, and his friends.
Firstly, is the story of The Witcher 3 hard to follow for newcomers?
Definitely not. We’ve managed to write the story in such a way so that players new to the universe can jump right in and those who are with us since The Witcher 1 or 2 will treat what is happening as a natural continuation of events. Nilfgaard is attacking the North and Geralt is untangled from the political turmoil and unleashed upon the world. Then there’s the Wild Hunt, an ominous force that has him in their sights…
Let’s assume I’m a PlayStation 4 gamer who hasn’t touched any of the previous Witcher games. Since you have a partnership with Dark Horse Comic, does The Witcher 3 feature some kind of interactive comic in its beginning, which would retell the story from the past two games, and maybe even let players choose how the bigger events play out?
Let me reassure you, you don’t need to play the previous games to understand what’s happening in The Witcher 3 right from the start. Having that said, we’ll definitely prepare some sort of a recap for the players who want to know what happened in the previous parts. Regarding our partnership with Dark Horse Comics, the story in The Witcher House of Glass is standalone. The comic itself is a really good way to familiarize yourself with the universe if you don’t know anything about Geralt of what he does for a living.
We know that Geralt’s saga ends with The Witcher 3, but is this entry also the end of the whole series? If not, have you thought about where could the franchise go?
Yes, this will be the final installment of the series. We decided that one of the key elements of a good story is for the story to have a clear cut ending. No cliffhangers, no milking the community for yet-another-game-in-the-franchise. A beginning, a middle and an end, that’s our vision of how proper storytelling should look like.
Who are some of the more popular franchise-characters among the development team?
Oh boy, there’s roughly 230 people working in the studio. We all have our favorites! I remember a time in the studio when we were collectively divided between Iorveth and Roche. They’re both so cool!
What can you tell us about the story? How balanced are the events of the outside world (the invasion of the emperor, for example) compared to Geralt’s personal quest of finding his beloved Yennefer? Also, how jealous will Triss be?
I can’t talk about the plot at this point, sorry. All I can tell is that everything will be interconnected and one event will influence another.
Going on, let’s turn our attention to gameplay.
Has the team’s approach to the series evolved or changed at all over the course of these three titles?
Yes, definitely. The game has evolved since the first installment in almost every regard – ranging from the combat mechanics to the intensity of the story and the size of the world, the third Witcher will be something really unique.
Has player feedback played a big part in development decisions (e.g.: difficulty, character design etc.), or has the development team followed a more rigid and previously-conceptualised route?
As a studio we’re known to listen to what gamers say. We value their opinion and feedback and try to cater to their taste. This, however, does not mean that we incorporate every suggestion into the game. We have our vision of The Witcher and it constitutes the core of the game and its mechanics.
Does The Witcher 3 feature specific classes (e.g.: mage, warrior etc.) or will gamers be able to freely customise Geralt, like in the previous entries?
I can’t go into details right now but we’re sticking with a similar system to the one we used in The Witcher 2. It’s going to be greatly enhanced but the core mechanic should be similar.
How much room for customisation does The Witcher 3 allow? If I remember correctly, The Witcher 1 doesn’t have any customisation options, and #2 only lets you change Geralt’s hair style. What can we expect in #3?
You’ll get to fiddle around with Geralt’s armors and weapons but, at this point, my lips are sealed!
How does the combat system compare to that of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings? Is dual-handling in? Also, will Geralt learn new signs (a.k.a. magic powers)?
Yes, Geralt will expand his Sign pool – every Sign will now have an alternative form. For example, AARD can be both a directional attack and an area of effect attack that can hit multiple opponents. The combat system is way more fluid and responsive now – each sword swing equals one button press, so you can chain combos the way you like and develop your own tactics for various monsters and enemies.
Besides hunting all manner of beasts, what other (side) activities can Geralt participate in?
Adventures! There’s so much exploration in the game that players will never find themselves bored or not knowing what to do. We’ve got over 100 hours of gameplay (50 hours of the main story arc and about 50 hours’ worth of side quests), we’ve got sailing, you can fistfight in taverns…
How long does it take to traverse the entire map? Also, speaking of traversing – does The Witcher 3 feature different types of horses and boats? Are there other modes of transportation? Maybe teleporting?
The Witcher 3 is 35 times bigger than The Witcher 2 – it’s a lot of ground to cover, really. As for different types of boats or horses, we’ll definitely introduce some diversity here so don’t worry.
Let’s talk about a few things outside the game, but still connected to it.
This may be an obvious question, but, does The Witcher 3 feature trophies and achievements, respectively?
Sure it does!
Will PC gamers be able to import their previous saves? What about Xbox 360 ones?
At this point in time I can confirm that PC gamers will be able to import their saved games. As for the consoles, we’re still exploring possibilities so stay tuned.
Does The Witcher 3 feature a companion app for smartphones and tablets?
Currently we’re focusing on the game itself, but everything’s possible.
Going on, let’s see about the past, the present, and the future.
Have you considered bringing the other two Witcher games to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One?
Currently we’re focusing on The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077. For now, the answer is no, we’re not planning to bring the previous parts on the PS4 and Xbox One.
How have the new consoles been treating you? Is there any difference in developing between them?
Nah, both consoles are tremendous pieces of hardware that allow us to go crazy with the visuals.
How would you feel about expanding The Witcher to the big screen? Or maybe as TV series. Could it be possible, now that Geralt’s adventures are getting more and more popular?
We’re a company that makes games, not movies, so it’s hard to say. Yeah it would be awesome to see Geralt on the big screen, but, as a studio, we don’t have the expertise to push The Witcher into that direction.
After shipping The Witcher 3, will the team turn its attention to Cyberpunk 2077, or do you already have something else in mind?
It’s not like Cyberpunk 2077 lost our attention, you know. After we launch The Witcher 3, we will definitely support the game for a long time – you know us, we like to give gamers extra stuff so expect a lot of that.
Finally, is there anything you’d like to share about Cyberpunk 2077?
Thank you very much for taking your time to answer our questions. I am eagerly awaiting to see how Geralt’s story ends (I sincerely hope there is a “good” ending among those 36, because after all his past misfortunes, Geralt truly deserves it).
So there you have it, folks. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is scheduled for launch sometime this year, on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. For all your latest news on witchers and such, keep it locked to Analog Addiction.
In addition to being a PC editor, Vlad Pintea is also a chief of news and reviews here at Analog Addiction. You can contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, on Skype (vlad94pintea), Steam, Facebook, and Twitter.