author: Karol Laska
What We Know About 'The Witcher 4'
The whole Internet is abuzz with the announcement of CD Projekt RED, confirming the creation of the next Witcher game. But what can we be sure about when it comes to the game at this point, without looking at the rumors? And what seems almost certain? We decided to analyze it.
Ready, go! The project sometimes dubbed as The Witcher 4, or simply the latest game from The Witcher series, was announced by CD Projekt RED on social media and sparked many theories and speculations (more about them here) due to the image that teased the game. Although the evolution of The Witcher was certain and announced already in the studio's transformation program called RED 2.0, no official confirmation was received until March 21, 2022.
Probably each of us some image of the next The Witcher their mind and what it could be. Some hope for the return of Geralt, others expect a different protagonist, some are interested in the more erotic aspect of the game, while others care about the exploration of the open world and areas of the universe not yet explored in any of the games. There is still time for predictions and theorizing - but in this text let's focus on what is one hundred percent certain or highly probable. Let's focus on the facts and see what kind of project emerges from them.
So let's start with confirmed information.
What do we know 100%?
- 'The Witcher 4' will offer an open world game, following in the footsteps of Wild Hunt. It seems obvious, but the lack of '4' in the official announcement could suggest that the creators are planning some kind of reboot, perhaps fitting into some other genre framework (the lack of '4' is also understandable if you take into account that before the release of the third part it was suggested that this is the finale of Geralt's adventures - he may appear in the upcoming part, but not necessarily as the main character). We know about the open world concept mainly from the announcement, in which their strategic cooperation with Epic Games was announced. This was confirmed by the CEO of the company, Tim Sweeney, who loudly and clearly indicated his desire to create dynamic open worlds in cooperation with CD Projekt RED (source: CDPR).
- 'The Witcher 4' will be powered by the engine developed by Epic Games, that is Unreal Engine, specifically on its newest version - bearing the number 5. This will be another major open world game developed on UE5 and coming in the next few years. Thus, CD Projekt RED is partially moving away from the in-house engine used in the previous parts of The Witcher, although the team does not intend to give it up completely, because it is needed in the context of further development of Cyberpunk 2077. 'The Witcher 4' will not be the first game by the team, in which they used a different engine. Gwent and Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales were powered by Unity. And why UE5 and not REDengine? Because it's a tool that will save the studio time, money, provide a next-gen feel to the game and support from Epic (source: CDPR).
- 'The Witcher 4' has been in development for at least 3-4 years now, but it's unclear at what specific stage of work it is now. Some of the activities are probably mainly pure planning that is part of the pre-production process, although the plot of the game has already been created since 2018. It is the responsibility of an experienced employee of CD Projekt RED - Marcin Blacha, working for the company successively as a producer and scriptwriter. He has written stories for both the previous installments of The Witcher as well as Cyberpunk 2077 (source: own).
- We have known for a long time from inside sources that the first story concepts assumed focusing on the character of Ciri as the playable protagonist. (The initial codename of the project was even 'Princess', which could confirm this theory. That scenario is still possible, but the Reds' artistic vision may have changed over the years. How would Ciri fit into the already known story? It's very simple - the new game was supposed to be simply a prequel to the third game, and Ciri wouldn't be as strong as in Wild Hunt. It is possible that we would see the already known events from a different perspective, after all, it would be Ciri who would be looking for a way to contact Geralt (source: own).
- 'The Witcher 4' director is Jason Slama, who has been working for CD Projekt RED for 8 years now. He started as a programmer during the work on The Witcher 3 and eventually rose to the role of director of Gwent (a separate game, not the minigame in Wild Hunt), although he wasn't the one who laid the groundwork for the game - he didn't become its director until later. Before that he worked for Ubisoft, participating in such projects as Assassins Creed 3, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time or Might & Magic: Duel of Champions. Slama announced the recruitment of new employees, and that he will not tolerate crunch under his authority (source: twitter account of Jason Slama).
- Not only Slama has moved on from working on Gwent to 'The Witcher 4'. A group of other developers previously creating this card game was also delegated to the new project. It is not known whether this will somehow affect the further support of a slightly smaller project. Part of the team was transferred even before the release of Cyberpunk 2077 - since then, it could have gained more people. What's more, CDPR has enough people to easily cover several projects simultaneously. As of June 2021, there were over 700 developers alone, and it's not impossible that there are many more now. (source: own).
- 'The Witcher 4' will not be an Epic Games exclusive (source: CDPR).
After the facts, it's time for a series of fairly obvious conclusions.
What do we know for 90%?
- The contract under which the strategic cooperation between CD Projekt RED and Epic Games began, is to be valid for 15 years. We are talking about something more than just lending the Unreal Engine 5 in order to power some games. The next The Witcher is to help both companies in unleashing the full potential of UE5 in the context of creating open worlds. This probably involves a number of tests, constant exchange of information and the desire to constantly improve the code (source: CDPR).
- The game may launch much sooner than we all think. As you can read above, work on it has been going on for at least several years, and after the premature announcement of Cyberpunk 2077 CD Projekt RED rather does not want to repeat the mistake and keep its flagship project in a protracted development process and bombarded with numerous delays. So we're hoping that 'The Witcher 4' will appear in the first half of the current decade - perhaps even in 2024 (source: own).
- An important role in the storyline will be played by either the witcher school of the Cat or a new school which did not exist in the universe before. Fans quite accurately noticed that the teaser image of the new Witcher presents a medallion with the likeness of a lynx (Marcin Momot, community director at CD Projekt RED, confirmed this on his twitter account). Lynx, however, belongs to the Felidae family, in short, technically it's a cat. This medallion, strangely enough, was worn in Wild Hunt by Ciri, which only would indicate that the creators still plan to use her in the role of the main character (source: Twitter, CDPR).
- It is also worth recalling the content of CD Projekt RED's business report from 2021, in which it was announced, that the next game set in The Witcher universe will use some, yet unspecified, online features, although Adam Kicinski emphasized that the studio still intends to rely on creating story-driven single-player action RPGs. However, we don't know how up-to-date this information is and whether the team is still sticking to it (source: CDPR).
- In connection with such a long duration of cooperation, as well as the promotional slogan "A New Saga Begins" one can deduce, that there will be even more parts of The Witcher and all of them will use the system offered by Unreal Engine 5 (source: own).
Apart from the aforementioned certainties and "semi certainties" there are of course a lot of understatements and unknowns along the way. An example? Geralt hasn't been mentioned at all so far, and the game, if it were to use his character, would probably advertise ths fact from the very beginning. Will he appear in 'The Witcher 4'? And if so, as a playable character or an NPC? No one knows that yet, but fans agree - he will not play the first fiddle in the upcoming instalment.
However, for now, let's just enjoy the fact that the next Witcher is coming. We knew that it will come sooner or later, but it's good to hear the confirmation that team has actually been working on it for some time and we can expect it sooner rather than later, though of course not in a while. And what do you guys expect from this game? Does what we know so far makes a certain picture come to your mind? Let us know, let us discuss, maybe not jump into the hype train yet, but let us certainly rejoice that CDPR is going back to its roots.