The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was unveiled earlier this year to be in development for PC, PS4 and "other next-gen platforms" so the game will be with us soon enough. Some of the most notable things about the game is its use of the new RED Engine 3 (CD Projekt RED's 3rd iteration of their in-house engine tailor made for their games) and how it allows The Witcher 3 to maintain its strong narrative approach, but also open it up as an open-world experience. The implications are huge and the possibilities are hard to fully comprehend, but suffice it to say that this is shaping up to be one incredible RPG.
Jakub Rokosz, Senior Quest Designer for CD Projekt RED, was nice enough to answer some of my questions that I sent over to the team. This was an email Q&A, so it was not in real-time or anything like that. Check out all of the details down below!
David Jagneaux: Can you first tell me a bit about where Geralt is at both in terms of the story and just mentally as a character, near the start of The Witcher 3?
Jakub Rokosz: Geralt has grown up as the world changed around him. He has seen a lot in his days – he helped kingdoms rise and fall, killed many enemies. He was forced into a lot of these events, now he is just tired. He wants to return to his occupation as a “simple” monster slayer and find his lost love.
The war changed everything. Those once in power have lost it and are no longer interested in Geralt. New players, however, arrived on the scene and have plans for the Witcher. Such transitional times are really dangerous, but at the same time there is a much greater threat looming above all nations. A cavalcade of ghastly specters, the Wild Hunt, appears in the sky and will again cross its path with Geralt.
DJ: With only the second game on Xbox platforms and none on PlayStation previously, people will be entering the franchise from all different points on each platform. How does this game approach the experience for newcomers to the franchise?
JR: The Witcher 3 is a separate tale about Geralt so you don’t have to know what happened in the earlier titles to dive into this world. We prepared a great intro cinematic, which will explain what’s going on, but also the game itself will offer a smooth introduction to the game world. Veterans will see some references to previous titles, but this won’t interfere with the way newcomers will perceive the game.
Speaking about accessibility of the game, it will still be challenging, but not as difficult as the beginning of the Witcher 2. We heard the complaints from our fans about the learning curve of the Witcher 2, and put a lot of attention in developing a simple and understandable tutorial in the upcoming game, which will present all the game mechanics in a much easier way.
DJ: Can you tell me a bit more about RED Engine 3 and how it's allowing you to "merge" the gameplay designs of a narratively driven RPG with a more open-world experience? What does that mean for the development process?
JR: As with its previous versions the REDengine is tailor made for our studio. It is not a universal type of engine for any genre, but it has tools which allow an easy implementation of branching storylines and player decision based consequences.
DJ: Which elements do you think The Witcher 2 was missing that held it back from being the fully realized vision that you're planning for The Witcher 3 to ultimately live up to?
JR: From what I’ve already mentioned we changed the difficulty curve. It doesn’t mean we’ve dumbed the game down, but we adjusted the difficulty curve so that it increases at a gradual and more natural rate. The last game started pretty tough, but by the end there was little challenge at all.
Also we designed the user interface with every specific platform in mind. Many players complained about the inventory system, and this time it will not be problematic at all we hope.
But I feel like the most important change is with the open world. At last we can fully show what being a Witcher - the monster hunter - is all about.
DJ: Are you making any major changes to gameplay that you want to talk about? The jump from Witcher 1 to Witcher 2, in terms of combat specifically, was very large.
JR: The open world is definitely something new in the franchise, so this introduces new gameplay mechanics and activities.
The game will have no chapters and you will be able to go everywhere all the time, with no loading times in between. New means of exploration will be introduced. This doesn’t mean you should go everywhere all the time – some regions might be too dangerous when you start. But it means that if you want to check out new settings you don’t have to wait until a chapter is complete.
DJ: Do you plan to maintain the same mindset with DLC and additional content post release, or will you be changing your approach to DLC and DRM for The Witcher 3?
JR: We won’t do anything that tempers the experience of our fans. You can be sure that The Witcher 3 will have no DRM on PC, for example, thanks to GoG.com.
What do you think of this Q&A and what are your thoughts on the game so far? Let us know what you're thinking in the comments below!