I was half asleep as I was ushered into my last presentation of E3 2014. It had been one hell of a show and I was heading back home via an eleven-hour flight later that day.
The presentation was for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and as the game demo started I suddenly snapped to attention.
With its jaw-dropping visuals The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was easily one of the stand out titles of the show. The game’s developer CD Projekt RED, has built upon the sublime experience of The Witcher 2 to offer players the opportunity to freely explore Geralt of Rivia’s world for the first time.
After the show I put some questions to The Witcher 3’s senior art producer, Michal Krzeminski.
How has going open world affected the way you tell the game’s story?
It didn’t affect the way we tell the story in a sense of directly altering the narrative, if that’s what you’re asking. Everything you liked about how we told stories in the previous game is still here, we just had to tie in the extra elements connected to the open world part of the game.
Let me give you an example. The inhabitants of Novigrad or No Man’s Land aren’t oblivious to what’s going on with the world. They too know that the Wild Hunt poses a grave threat and that Nilfgaard is invading the north.
You, as the player, are in the center but you always have the option to see what’s going on from another angle by taking on some quests that aren’t directly connected to the main story arc to get some extra information.
Just how big is the world of The Witcher 3 and how long will the average playthrough last?
It’s 35 times bigger than The Witcher 2, which translates to over 100 hours of gameplay. 50 hours of side quests and 50 hours of the main story arc. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a pretty long game.
What changes have been made to the combat since the last game?
We’ve changed a lot. First off, there’s no QTE in the game, so players will now have total control over Geralt and what he’s doing during combat.
Another significant change is the way Geralt can now dodge and parry attacks–no more rolling back to avoid damage, you can now fluidly change from opponent to opponent and chain combos as you please.
Additionally, Geralt now has a crossbow he can use to dispatch flying opponents, which you could have seen an example of how it will be used in the game during our E3 griffin presentation.
The Witcher 3 is a new-gen/PC only game. Was this always the intention and how does the game capitalise on the additional power of the new hardware?
When we first approached the concept of an open world game we knew we needed the horsepower to back up the ideas we had in our heads. So we’ve waited. Then the next-gen consoles came and we knew we could do what we wanted. We were finally able to give gamers the same intense story of the previous Witcher games, but set in a world they could explore as they wanted. And to make everything look and feel truly next-gen.
Can we expect the same unparalleled level of support for the game as you have with the amazing additions to The Witcher 2?
What are you plans for releasing DLC expansions?
Currently we’re focused on making the game, let’s not go into DLCs.
What games have influenced the development of The Witcher 3 and what have you drawn from them?
I think that everyone in the studio has his or her own inspirations. Mine are the Fallout series (the general mood, I love how they do post-apocalyptic) and GTA V for its great narrative (mainly character creation, i.e. how Rockstar managed to build and develop the characters throughout the game) and high gameplay value.
What’s the development team’s favourite thing about the The Witcher 3?
It’s hard to say for the whole studio, because there’s over 230 of us working on the game. My favorite part is the overall mood of the locations in the game. Some of them are really dark, you feel like something bad happened there, but you don’t see any tangible evidence. It can give you the chills.
And finally, can you tell me something about the game that you’ve not told anyone else?
Things are not as they seem!
Thank you very much, Michal. I looking forward to playing the game when it comes out February next year.