At E3 last we, we had the opportunity to sit in on an hour-long hands-off gameplay demonstration of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Afterwards, we talked to lead producer Piotr Krzywonosiuk about a variety of things, including the game and the possibility of CD Projekt Red becoming the face of Poland. Seriously, the country's flag needs to be changed to CD Projekt RED's logo.
GZ: Is there going to be any spin-off from The Witcher 3 since this is Geralt's last game?
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: This is the closure of the series. This is the final adventure of Geralt. We're closing the plot here. It's a great story because, where we left with Witcher 2 this big war is about to start, and Wild Hunt starts six months after and it's all about Geralt and his personal story this time. It's going to be really interesting.
Do you mean end of The Witcher series or the trilogy?
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: Both really…
Aw that's sad…
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: On one hand it's sad, but we think that every great story has a beginning, middle, and end. And this is it. It feels a bit nostalgic, but also we are really happy that we can tell this final chapter of the story.
So looking towards the future, how's Cyberpunk coming along?
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: Great. We're focusing on The Witcher 3 right now, but Cyberpunk is fine.
Is it the same team working on it?
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: Yes.
So do we get a timeframe on it, or when we can expect more?
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: Sadly, can't talk about it yet.
Okay so back on The Witcher. Are you going to be able to just jump right in with Wild Hunt and understand where we are with the story or should you play the first two?
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: You don't need to play the previous games. It's not required at all. The Witcher 1 is a standalone story. Sure it's the same universe and it's still Geralt but it does not require prior knowledge. We will make sure — it's very important to us — that new players will be introduced slowly to the game. They'll understand with the prologue what it is to be witcher, the monster hunter, what he does and how he does it. And we'll gradually introduce characters that matter in the story so that players won't feel lost or confused at all.
Oh cool, so should I stop playing The Witcher 2? JOKING! So we actually had a few hearing-impaired readers ask some questions. Are you going to be changing the size of your subtitles or making them customizable?
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: I wish I could answer this question, but I don't know honestly. I think we are doing some stuff. We are certainly doing things for color blind. Definitely, something for deaf users. But I don't know.
How does the change in scope affect the storytelling?
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: Well, the size of the world is 40 times bigger than the original. It's enormous. It's huge. This is it guys. This is the game. It's really big and on one hand it's scary because there's so much to do. As a lead producer who has to oversee the entire thing sometimes it's like 'whoa, so many things.' But on the other hand, this is the ultimate RPG — something we've always wanted to make. We've crafted our storytelling skills with Witcher 1 and 2. We think we tell really good, immersive stories. And now, with the new consoles, we actually have the possibility to take storytelling and put it into the open world. This is something we've always been dreaming of and now the dream is coming true. So it's amazing.
Are you concerned with players getting away from the story?
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: No, not really. First of all, this is it. Open world is about freedom. Free to do what you want. If you want to get immersed in the main story line, there you go. 50 hours of that waiting for you. If you want to do side quests, exploration, meet NPCs, get some monster hunter quests, there's another 50 hours for you. You can do both. You can do one thing. But I think story is really a strong element of The Witcher and if any players get sidetracked they will definitely come back. And we have ways to remind them with what happened in the last couple hours of the game.
Are you guys fans of the Demon Souls/Dark Souls franchise…?
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: F**k yea…
…and have those games influenced changes in Wild Hunt?
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: You know, we play lots of games. RPGs. Other games too. There's people in the studio who love Dark Souls and finished it on the insane difficulty level. There's people who play action games, shooters, any games really. And, you know, there's always inspiration coming from watching other games, even indirectly. Having said that, Witcher is very well defined. There's folks in the studio who have been working on the game for over a decade so they know exactly what they want and they have a clear vision.
Well, speaking of difficulty… that werewolf fight that we saw in the demo. I thought it was over…
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: Well, the demo has been balanced for demo purposes. We have a limited time so we have to take that into consideration. But fear not, we're certainly not going in the Dark Souls direction. We want to make the game accessible for all players. If you're a hardcore gamer and want challenge, you'll get it. If you just want to get immersed in the story and play the way you want it without breaking a sweat, sure, no problem.
Would you guys consider a remake of the first two games for Xbox One or PS4?
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: I don't think so.
Really!? Can I ask why?
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: All of our focus is our on Wild Hunt and then we have some other things going on, one of them being Cyberpunk. So I don't think it's in the plans.
Since this is the last part of the trilogy — as far as post-launch content, do you have a DLC plan? A continuation of the story through those means?
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: Continuation? No. I can't talk about DLC, but I can assure you we are preparing some really cool stuff.
Well, the game's long enough. They shouldn't even be worrying about that stuff…
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: It's about 100 hours of gameplay. It has multiple endings. I think a lot of players are going to want to play it again.
Last question, I promise, but it's more about CD Projekt Red as a company. I feel like in the past few years, you guys have exploded into stardom. You guys are like the face of Poland. How does that feel?
Piotr Krzywonosiuk: It feels f**king awesome to be honest. I mean, look, we are living our dream. We are all very dedicated and passionate about our work. We get to make a living out of making a game. What is better than that? I'm not sure there is anything better than that. Being the face of Poland? I don't know — hopefully with Wild Hunt we will be. It feels good. We definitely feel proud.