Who’s up for a new adventure in the Witcher universe? If that’s you, you’d better get interested in Thronebreaker, the first full-fledged story campaign for Gwent: The Witcher Card Game. While the fans of the original game trilogy may say that this is not how they imagined the return of their favourite characters, well… it’s better than nothing, right? The aforementioned single-player mode will be revealed before the end of this year, but we were able to take a look at its contents during gamescom in Cologne.
While the news that the campaign will focus on some less popular characters from the Witcher universe may sadden some people, the fan base in general should be satisfied. The developers have confirmed that the series’ most iconic characters will appear in Thronebreaker, and the story will reference the events depicted in the books. In short – yes, Geralt will make an appearance.
The single-player campaign for Gwent is not a particularly fresh topic, as CD Projekt Red promised it as early as June last year, during the first presentation of their card game. Nothing new on the subject emerged ever since; at least from our point of view, because the developers have been very busy working on that particular module. Theoretically, Thronebreaker is the first of several planned “expansions” for Gwent, and it will most certainly be a paid one. Its price, however, remains a mystery at the moment.
The fans of Andrzej Sapkowski’s work will surely be interested in the news that the first story campaign will not focus on the White Wolf. The main protagonist of Thronebreaker is Meve, the queen of Lyria and Rivia, the ruler responsible for knighting Geralt, providing a legal validation for his made-up title “of Rivia”. Meve has left her mark on the Witcher book series, and CD Projekt RED is eager to use that foothold. The adventure will follow her actions during the Second Nilfgaard-Nordling War. As you can expect, the action will take place before the events depicted in the first game.
As it was announced more than a year ago, the campaign will be vastly different from a typical, stand-alone Gwent gameplay. Thronebreaker will have us traverse a map in isometric view and complete various tasks, main and side quests alike, prepared by the developers. Exploration will yield unique items (including cards) but also… resources. The latter will be used in special camps, resembling the hamlet from Darkest Dungeon and cities from Heroes of Might and Magic. Each structure we build in the camp can be used to do different things, e.g. recruit new units or equip Meve’s men with better weapons. In addition to the essential resource that is gold, the developers have also introduced the number of available recruits, which determines how many units (represented by cards) we can buy.
Recruits for our army can be acquired in various situations, e.g. by completing the aforementioned missions, but also by choosing the right options in conversations. Yes, that’s right; not only will Thronebreaker offer us simple but charming cut-scenes with sound, but we will also be able to make a meaningful choice in some moments of the story. The choices are to encompass both dire and trivial matters; some of them may have no imminent consequences, revealing the results only later on. All this sounds rather intriguing, but the actual importance of our decisions will be known only after the game’s been thoroughly tested. For now, we can only have the developers’ word for it.
Although the presentation focused mostly on the story-related aspects of Thronebreaker, we need to remember that Gwent is a card game first and foremost. Each and every of our battles with NPCs will be resolved in a traditional card duel. What’s important, the rules can change throughout the campaign, and not always the one who wins the most rounds wins the whole match. The developers want to introduce special rules to some of the battles, which will certainly add some fun to the story mode. At the same time, the devs stress the mode’s independence from the multiplayer. We’ll be getting unique cards, e.g. heroes, and some of the old cards may work differently than what we are used to.
WHAT’S NEW IN MULTI?
The Gwent presentation at gamescom was mostly dedicated to the single-player mode, but the REDs haven’t forgotten the main course of their game. Multiplayer fans will soon be getting a large update, and there are plans to systematically expand the game, e.g. by adding a new faction. Which army will be the next to fight? That particular question was left unanswered.
Return to the world of The Witcher
The single campaign looks very promising and, as we’ve already said, it may provide an interesting alternative for gamers looking to return to the Witcher universe. You have to understand, though, that the scope of this project is vastly different than, e.g. the third game. The developers have promised us a story with moral choices, dialogues voiced by high-profile actors, and a large world ready to be explored, but the execution of the module resembles a typical indie game more than the famous third instalment. There’s nothing wrong with that, obviously, as we’ve seen on many occasions that small, independent titles can offer more than 3D sandboxes developed for hundreds of millions of dollars. Let’s hope that’s the case here as well.
Kristian Smoszna | Gamepressure.com