The Witcher 3 Preview

At Gfinity, we primarily promote multiplayer gaming. Whether you find yourself sat amongst friends in the living room or competing against the rest of the world online, we’ll always be your first point of call.

But we acknowledge gamers of all types here. We know that, sometimes, all you want to do is curl up on the sofa, switch off from the connected world and immerse yourself in a glorious fictional realm, for hours on end.

On May 19th, CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has the ability to drag you away from your comfort zone kicking and screaming. In fact, it may just consume your life completely.

We recently spent some time with the game and got to chat with the development team to see how this amazing high-fantasy world is coming together.

As you may expect, The Witcher 3 features a significantly larger world than either of the previous Witcher games. Now, that’s a daunting prospect.

And yet, as compelling as that may sound, equally we wondered whether the large amounts of content will eventually become stale and cause the momentum of the game to fatigue. For instance, will the mission structure remain diverse throughout? Will they always have narrative significance? Will players still be encountering new mechanics and ways to play fifteen hours in? We approached CD Projekt RED for their thoughts on these queries and this is what they came back with. 

"We try to inject soul and substance to everything that surrounds you. NPCs have backstories you might choose to discover, places have local legends, and monsters live in their natural habitats, and are not just randomly spawned to populate the world. There’s always somewhere to go and something to do. The world is your playground and it’s all in the hands of the players how they want to do things -- when to follow the main storyline and when to set out questing and hunting beasts."

One thing that’s abundantly clear with The Witcher 3 is that it is on track to be more successful than any Witcher project before it. Wild Hunt is on course to crack the mass-market as games such as The Elder Scrolls and Mass Effect already have.

The team, however, remain composed despite the arduous acclaim their blockbuster title has already received.

"We’re super hyped that the game is so popular right now. We’ve won over 160 awards already and I think that this shows we’re on the right track. I think people new to the series will really like how we enable players to feel like this bounty hunter set loose within an open world. You’re a professional, you get hired and get the job done, and the whole world is your playground."

But what about fans who’ve been invested in the series since day one? Are they being forgotten about this time?

"For long time fans of the series this will be getting back to the roots of who witchers really are so I think this is super exciting for them as well!"

Geralt of Rivia has various tricks at his disposal, whether he chooses to go into battle swinging his sword, cast different types of signs for varied purposes or even fire off a few rounds with a crossbow. He is a true hunter, and this open world filled with various creatures, soldiers and pitfalls will take him to his absolute limits.

The imagination that has gone into the creation of this world and its inhabitants is clear for all to see, but equally CD Projekt RED have used various influences to bring their project to life. In addition to Scottish culture, and the settings of previous Witcher titles, there’s plenty of other similarities to draw from the real world.

"We’ve got a distinct Slavic feel in the game, but there’re also the Anglo-Saxon or Nordic inspirations -- both in architecture and plot-wise. This touches almost every aspect of the game, from the color palette to references to folklore. And all this is glued together by this universal concept of a bounty hunter for hire in a fantasy world gone wrong everybody can relate to. I think you’ll be able to find something for yourself in the game and it doesn’t matter where you’re from."

You’d be mistaken for thinking that Geralt merely spends his days hunting monsters. Even Witchers need some down-time, and fortunately, CD Projekt RED are well aware of that. During our demonstration of the game, we got the chance to play Gwent, a tactical card game, similar in style to Hearthstone, which rewards the player for gaining the most points at the end of each round. Each card has a points system and those points reduce when under attack.

Similarities aside, we asked CD Projekt RED where the influences for Gwent came from.

"There are some avid card-game fans here in the studio and we thought it would be awesome if we could include some of their ideas into the game. Gwent is a fully fledged card game that’s really embedded in the universe of the game -- you’ll find cards while exploring the world, you’ll win them playing, or take them off dead opponents."

And here’s the good news. Gwent doesn’t sound like it will be the only game-within-a-game in The Witcher 3.

"As for other things players can do, there’s lots -- you’ll win money while horse racing or fist-fight with locals, but most importantly you’ll hunt a variety of monsters and get bounty to upgrade your gear!"

With all these possibilities however, it makes us wonder whether there was any consideration given to expanding The Witcher 3 experience.

We asked the development team if they looked at the possibility of adding multiplayer, whether that means you can play Gwent with a friend or explore this massive universe together. It worked for Dragon Age Inquisition and Mass Effect. It even worked for The Elder Scrolls in the form of a massively multiplayer open world RPG. The developers, however, have their own view on that, simply stating...

"The Witcher was always a single player experience and we never intended it to be anything else."

The Witcher 3 is expected to last at least 80 hours with all the side-content available, in addition to the main campaign, but as if that’s not enough the developers have already told us there will be even more content to arrive once the game ships.

What it will contain, however, remains a bit of a mystery.

"We’re keeping this a secret for now. What I can say at this point is that we will give gamers all sorts of stuff to try and cover all the bases."

The Witcher 3 has all the makings of a Game of the Year contender. It feels mechanically tight, it looks drop-dead gorgeous, and best of all, there will be plenty of it.

CD Projekt RED are set to take every other RPG developer to school with this masterclass in design. You won’t want to miss it!

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