CD Projekt unceremoniously announced this week that there are three – no, four – no, five? – new Witcher games in development, alongside a sequel to Cyberpunk 2077. Big Geralt is back.
Or at least witching is. We don’t know if any of CD Projekt’s upcoming games will star or guest-star Geralt of Rivia, although the company has said its next big role-playing game won’t be Geralt’s story. We now know this game, which we tentatively call The witcher 4, will be the beginning of a “new triple-A RPG trilogy”. CD Projekt codenamed this game Polaris. Will there be Ciri or a whole new cast of characters? We do not know it.
It seems more likely that Geralt will appear in one of the planned spin-offs that CD Projekt codenamed this week: There’s Canis Majoris, a “full-fledged Witcher game separate from the new Witcher saga, starting with Polaris.” ‘, and also Sirius, a Witcher game from former indie studio Molasses Flood that will feature some multiplayer.
These aren’t the only rumors in the Witcherverse. The third season of the Netflix Witcher series is coming out next year, and the prequel spin-off The Witcher: Blood Origin, starring Michelle Yeoh, will debut in December 2022. Netflix has announced that it will release another anime film and a “family-friendly one.” “ Animated series gives the way too.
That’s a lot of Witcher. But is it too much Witcher? Is CD Projekt just out to placate investors, or is the series finally getting the attention it deserves? Our team is split between skepticism and excitement, so we argued about it.
Can CD Projekt really release three RPGs in six years?
Wes Fenlon, Editor-in-Chief: If you think CD Projekt will actually manage three new RPGs over a period of six years, I have a bridge in Novigrad that I can sell you. 10 years sounds much more realistic. Six years (!?) seems like an impossible timeline for a studio that has had to delay The Witcher 3 twice and Cyberpunk 2077 three times. And it’s not just because these games take years to develop: CD Projekt also has a long history of supporting its games after release, with months of patches and updates polishing them up. Cyberpunk desperately needed that time to feel like a finished game, but in the case of The Witcher 3, CD Projekt has only made a great game better – yet that crucial post-release time seems unrealistic when two sequels need to be finished in six years . On the plus side, since I assume each sequel is a year or two longer than expected, I worry less about burning out on Witcher games than I would otherwise.
Lauren Aitken, Guides Editor: Three games delivered over a period of six years is absolutely doable! After the first game is released, it can take three or four years to wait for the next game before the final chapter comes out two years later. It’s ambitious, and CDPR definitely did a 180 from the “We’ll never give specific timescales again!” Mood since Cyberpunk 2077 came out. It makes me think these games will be smaller in scope and much further along in production than has been claimed. Or they build it up as one big game that when they’re almost done they split it into three games and fire off a trilogy. Blood and Wine and Hearts of Stone added 30-40 more hours to Witcher 3, and both came out within a year of Witcher 3’s release, so the expectation that it can work is already set.
A trilogy released over a short period of time worked with Mass Effect, so it can work here! Anyway, stick it in my veins.
Will consecutive Witcher RPGs feel the same?
We s: That’s the bigger concern for me. I’ve played all three Witcher RPGs and enjoyed them all, but they all have very strong, very different identities. If CD Projekt creates three more in quick succession, I imagine that the necessary reuse of assets and design insights will make them much more similar. Maybe the developers will overcome that with the sheer quality of the writing and quest design – that would be amazing. But assuming they’re all open-world RPGs that follow the same characters – which is likely if they’re planning a standalone trilogy – I have trouble imagining them feeling as different as the first ones three witchers or improve so dramatically between games.
Announcing three games from the start seems like just a business decision to me, not one pushed by game developers with so many plans and ambitions that a single game just wouldn’t make it. But hey, if they’re aiming to do something like the Mass Effect trilogy with story decisions that carry over between games, I’m curious to see how it goes.
Lauren: There’s a lot more happening than just a trilogy! Project Sirius is created by The Molasses Flood and is therefore a separate development by the in-house Witcher team. If you look at their previous games (The Flame in the Flood, Drake Hollow) it will likely be unlike any Witcher game currently in existence, including Gwent and standalones and spin-offs like Thronebreaker.
Canis Majoris is also developed by a separate team – a third party studio founded by Witcher veterans. It’s unclear if it’s a subsidiary of CDPR or an as yet unnamed team – they could even be part of the new Boston team (although it looks like that studio will be focusing on Cyberpunk 2077 and its sequel project, Orion Orion). I think the trilogy will be the most well-known – hate to say it – and Canis Majoris has the potential to feel very Geralt being led by a team that worked on The Witcher 3’s design and quests. Maybe Canis Majoris will be the Ciri game instead of a whole trilogy about her, or maybe it’s the dandelion RPG that Fraser might like to play.
If the trilogy focuses on a new school, which the Lynx medallion strongly suggests, then there must be a new way to recruit witchers, and maybe a new way to mutate them (could Keira & Lambert have something to do with it? ). This would take it in a “modern” direction of sorcery and alchemy, as the two alongside possibly Ciri, Geralt and co. could come up with new methods of monster hunting with new witchers. Or maybe they move away from monsters on this planet and can traverse time and space using portals? You must also be wondering which, if any, of these games will be based on the Ciri Becomes a Witcher canon ending. Or do we keep looking for new threats in the future? Who else lurks in the shadows that we need to consider, more creepy vampires than Detlaffe or the Invisible Elder? Use your imagination, Wes!
We s: I’m trying. I’m trying! Umm… The Witcher: Time Bandits?
Between games and TV, can we see too much of the Northern Realms?
We s: As much as I love The Witcher 3, I feel like the media has really pissed me off over the last few years. I’ve lived and breathed Star Wars through my teens and even into my twenties, and I’ve seen almost all of the MCU as well, but I’m feeling the weariness for both these days. They really made a movie about young Han Solo and I looked at it like a chump. I don’t want to play a game with young Geralt or Daddy Vesemir or watch a Netflix spin-off about Dandelion. I love these characters! But sometimes I love that I don’t know everything about them.
What I like most about The Witcher 3 is how certain quests see Geralt crossing paths with another witcher or an old acquaintance; CD Projekt did a brilliant job of writing dialogues that outlined their relationships and history without divulging their life stories. It made the world feel bigger and more real, and reinforced just how many adventures Geralt had had. You lose something when each of these characters has their own origin story and each piece of media connects together Marvel-style and starts prioritizing building the shared universe rather than making the individual pieces great.
Maybe that’ll never happen with The Witcher – since CD Projekt and Netflix are each doing their own thing, it’s not really an MCU situation. But a new trilogy and more spin-off games all being developed at the same time makes me nervous. And tired.
Lauren: However, there is so much of the world beyond the big cities to explore! Visiting Aretuza in-game would be great, as would exploring Mahakam, Lyria, and Rivia, but further afield than we’ve been able to. You can briefly visit these areas in Thronebreaker, but it’s not the same as a full worldbuilding. Sorcerers aren’t just limited to the Northern Realms or Novigrad, and it’s time to move on.
I would love to see more witchers in one place and not just have a token quest where they all get drunk in a fortress – this is sure to be one of my favorite quests in Witcher 3 but it was also great to see them in the Interact Wilderness. I’d like to see CD Projekt put a little more focus on the sorceresses and definitely more elves considering their plot from The Witcher 2 was tucked into The Witcher 3. And I want to play more of the cool stories from the books that have to do with golden dragons. But that’s because I’m a big nerd.
I’m also hesitant about The Witcher becoming a bit MCU. But to be honest, I enjoy the Witcher universe so much outside of the games that I don’t really care. It feels risky to suggest that so many Witcher projects are in development at the same time, alongside a sequel to CP2077 and more. I get it though – CD Projekt is looking to invest more, inject some mystery and hype for the fans, and prove that they are committed to making games despite CP2077’s “failure” to launch. The pursuit of a brand new studio in Boston is proof of that. It’s yet another exciting time for CDPR. Forget new games for now though – where’s the next-gen update for Witcher 3?
We s: As careful as I am about filling the Witcher world with side stories and origins, if they give me a Final Fantasy Tactics-style turn-based strategy game, I’ll be there in a second. If you can turn Metal Slug into a tactical game, Geralt will definitely make it work!