The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, especially combined with its two excellent expansions, is one of the greatest games on PC or console. It may have got beaten as Game of the Year 2015 by our anarchic writing staff choosing Cities: Skylines but I praised it back and forth in my review. So while we eagerly wait for CD Projekt Red’s next game Cyberpunk 2077 we keep our eyes peeled, ears open and noses ripened for any sign that the developer is considering making The Witcher 4.
And then we got it. Sort of. In an interview with Polish TV, CEO of CD Projekt Red Adam Kicinski was quoted as saying the following when asked about a possible fourth game: “It would be unfair to fans not to make one. We have been working in this universe for more than a decade now and I do not think it’s going to be the end of it. It is still early to talk about it, but we have not forgotten this series.”
While the interview came out just after The Witcher 3 was released in 2015, every other interview claimed that the game would be an end to Geralt of Rivia’s story. Seriously, how did we miss this? Now that this new information has been dug up, we think it’s high time we gave our opinion thusly: The Witcher 4 – What To Expect and What We Want to See! We’ll do 5 points each way, shall we?
The Witcher 4 - What To Expect
1. Geralt Will Not Be The Star
What Do You Mean?: The Witcher 3 was the last story of Geralt of Rivia. The next game in the series will star a different protagonist, most likely his adopted daughter Ciri.
Why This Will Definitely Happen: Talking to IGN, CD Projekt’s senior writer had this to say: “The Witcher universe is a very big place with a lot of NPCs, a lot of characters, a lot of places we haven't shown yet. So, we might return to it at some point…but we think that this is a good place to let Geralt enjoy his retirement and try something new." In other words CD Projekt wanted to make The Witcher 3 their big send-off for Geralt, the series star since the original books and someone we’ve levelled up three damn times. But who could fill his shoes?
Pretty obvious really: the only other player-controlled character in the entire franchise. Ciri, the Lion Cub of Cintra. She’s learned from and looked up to Geralt all her life, she fights like him but with the added bonus of different time-warping magic powers, and she’s the only “young” Witcher after all the schools stopped teaching. Every time we took control of her in Witcher 3 it felt like CD Projekt were prepping her for stardom and preparing us for the change. Count on it.
2. A Proper Open-World
What Do You Mean?: Wait, wasn’t Witcher 3 already open-world? Yes it was… to a point. While Geralt has full freedom over where he can explore, there are still barriers and warp areas dividing up the map so that we can’t sail from Kaer Morhen to the Skellige Isles. The open world isn’t just one big area, unlike Skyrim, GTA5 or Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and it feels a bit of a cheat. Witcher 4 will correct this.
Why This Will Definitely Happen: The Witcher 4 will undoubtedly follow the open-world template set by 3 as it would be madness to go back to the confined area of past Witcher games, but remember that Witcher 3 was CD Projekt’s first open-world game. In all the excitement and the build-up many people, including ourselves, were surprised when they discovered the Skellige Isles and other places were entirely separate (if gigantic) locations. And that’s just not as satisfying as a full, uninterrupted open world scenario.
Undoubtedly CD Projekt know this and will be raising the stakes for the next entry, with a complete proper open-world game. What location though? Well…
3. It’ll Be Set In Nilfgaard
What Do You Mean?: The Empire of Nilfgaard has played a crucial “villain” role in most of the Witcher games and books, with the Emperor himself played by Charles Dance, the most famous actor in the game. Yet apart from a brief visit to Vizima Palace we never actually got to set foot inside the Empire itself. We smell a sequel.
Why This Will Definitely Happen: Granted, this is a prediction rather than a definite thing to expect, but we have numerous reasons for thinking it. 1: The whole of the Witcher trilogy is played from within all the countries that oppose Nilfgaard, so there’s nowhere else to go. 2: CD Projekt made a point in Witcher 2 & 3 of saying that Nilfgaard was expanding, making it perfect for that aforementioned “proper” open world in the next game. 3: It’s fun to play around in the villain’s domain. See Shadow of Mordor or Batman: Arkham Asylum. 4: Despite generally being portrayed as “the bad guys” like everyone in the Witcher universe they’re all actually shades of grey, so it’ll be good to see the human side of the evil empire. 5: If Ciri’s the lead, remember she’s the daughter of Emperor Emhyr var Emreis, so she’ll be a lot more welcome there than Geralt or any of the sorceresses. 6: It’ll be there, trust us.
4. The Missions Will Be Even More Interesting
What Do You Mean?: With one exception, open-world game missions regularly fall into repetition or just silly “collect 10 doodads and you’ll get a doohickey” filler quests. That exception, however, is The Witcher 3. A sequel will go even further.
Why This Will Definitely Happen: CD Projekt are clever folks, and one thing they definitely do is listen. They’ve released massive Enhanced Editions for free all based on feedback. And the one thing praised above every other open-world game about The Witcher 3? The quality of the missions. The variety, the unpredictability, and the lack of filler. The two DLC packs went even further, boasting imaginative, story-driven, epic quests all day every day. Imagine a whole game with the mission quality of Hearts of Stone? We’re drooling already, and we bet CD Projekt are in the planning stages right now.
5. The Choices Will Be More Far-Reaching
What Do You Mean?: The best thing about The Witcher series is the choices and their consequences, but in Witcher 3 (at least the main game) they didn’t feel as epic as perhaps they could’ve been. Witcher 4’s though will blow us away.
Why This Will Definitely Happen: Everyone remembers the big epic choice in The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings that sent the second half of the game down two vastly different paths, with completely different areas, quests, characters, and faction alignments. We can’t remember a single choice we made in Witcher 3 that was anywhere near as far-reaching. We believe CD Projekt had planned to have Geralt’s actions in one town affect others, but nothing really came of it. Since the Witcher series is best known for its choices and harsh consequences expect some epic events in the fourth game, with big results that affect the entire game world.
Right, enough of this “expect” stuff, now let’s get into what we demand! Ha!
The Witcher 4 - WHAT WE WANT TO SEE!
1. Take Some Cues From Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
What Do You Mean?: When The Witcher 3 came out its only real competition came from Skyrim and maybe Grand Theft Auto IV. Since then we’ve had an explosion in open-world games and arguably the most original is Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. CD Projekt needs to take a look at what makes that game so fun to play.
Why This Has To Happen: One made-up word: explorability. The Witcher 3, Skyrim, Horizon: Zero Dawn and others pride themselves on giving players a world to explore at will, but we can tell you right now: Breath of the Wild does it better. Fast Travel? Done via unlockable Shrines and Towers which you’re encouraged to seek out rather than a straight double-click on a town icon. Horses? Found out in the wild, ridden, named, loved, and quickly formed an attachment to. Hit a wall or a mountain? Link will instantly just start climbing so you can literally go anywhere with no barriers, and the direct approach can always be made to work. Get to the top, jump off, hit a button and you open up a glider, so even getting down is fun. And I haven’t even mentioned all the physics, gathering, cooking, and other systems at work. Breath of the Wild gives full exploration of its map, and it’s gloriously fun to do so. The Witcher 4 needs to take this game’s design into account, as does Elder Scrolls VI or any other open-world fantasy game. Maybe not the weapon degradation nonsense, though.
2. Improve The Combat
What Do You Mean?: Combat needs to be improved, especially if Ciri and her special warpy powers come into the mix. Please do it, CD Projekt.
Why This Has To Happen: The Witcher series has a dirty secret, spoken of in hushed tones by those who refuse to otherwise accept anything bad about the series. Whisper it… the combat has never been that good. Yes, shocking I know. The first game’s was dull, but the second and third games seemed to be chasing Dark Souls without considering why Dark Souls’ combat worked. Geralt’s weedy magic powers and his ability as an Ultimate Monster Slayer to get pwned by even basic Drowners don’t help either. A big revamp of the combat to make it “fun” should be on CD Projekt’s to-do list. Ciri’s combat was even worse in Witcher 3, so if she’s taking over this definitely needs to happen.
3. Less Reliance on Witcher Senses
What Do You Mean?: Geralt’s ‘Detective Vision’ is familiar to anyone who’s played The Witcher 3, especially as every single quest required it. Tone it down for the next game, please.
Why This Has To Happen: While we loved the events and the stories that happened in Witcher 3’s questlines and the variety of things happening around them, even the staunchest supporter of the game (me) will admit that the actual gameplay of the quests regularly boiled down to “turn Witcher Senses on, follow the colour trail, kill something”. Witcher 3 could just about get away with it, but no one will let that s*** fly in the next game. You’ll need to find a better way to interpret the Witcher’s tracking senses in the next game, CD Projekt.
4. More Random Encounters
What Do You Mean?: The funnest moments in open-world games are usually when something unexpected happens or something distracts you from your urgent quest to gather 10 noisy crickets. More random encounters in Witcher 4 please.
Why This Has To Happen: The Witcher 3 is packed with brilliant things to see and do along with loads of surprises, but very few of those aren’t programmed to happen in a particular spot or a particular time. In Red Dead Redemption for example you might randomly find a bandit trap or people in trouble on the side of the road. In Witcher 3 though we can’t think of a single time this happened. We want to replay these games to within an inch of their lives, so please add a smorgasbord of exciting random encounters guys. No pressure.
5. Even More Sexy Sex
What Do You Mean?: What do people think of when they think of The Witcher? Geralt of Rivia? Hunting monsters? Choice and consequences? A vast open world? Dark, realistic fantasy with shades of grey? Awesome wolfs-head medallions? Nope, it’s sex. Lots of sex. Sex with as many different women as possible. Many partners, many positions, many satisfactions. In beds, by lakes, on the grass, in hot-tubs, and on the back of stuffed unicorns. Sex. Sexy sex. Sex.
Why This Has To Happen: It wouldn’t be The Witcher without lots of sexy sex. More promiscuity with as many different partners of all races and genders as CD Projekt can possibly fit in. Yes, even and especially werewolves. If we don’t get lots of sexy sex in The Witcher 4 we’re moving wholesale to Dragon Age, and you don’t want that do you?
Well there you go folks, 5 Things We’ll Definitely See In The Witcher 4 and 5 Things We Have To See In The Witcher 4! (Two features for the price of one, how generous we are!) We all know the game’s in development, but it might be a good long while before it gets actually announced, let alone released. For now though, we can dream can’t we? Sex.