The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Previews, Interviews

We have rounded up a number of hands-on previews and interviews for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the third title in CD Projekt RED's dark fantasy RPG series based on Andrzej Sapkowski's novels.

We start with a preview from VG247, that argues the game surpasses Skyrim in some ways:

I like to kvetch about my journal filling up with side quests, but do you remember the first time you played Skyrim and as soon as you hit your first major hub you found dozens of leads waiting for you? Whether you pursued the main quest or not, there was always something meaningful to do something that felt like more than filler.
This questing model is one of Bethesda and the RPG genre in general's greatest strengths, and CD Projekt RED was absolutely right to pick it up and run with it, building on its efforts in earlier games. Now that Geralt has that glorious open world to explore, I predict you'll have a heck of a time remembering that you're supposed to be finding Yennefer, battling the Wild Hunt, securing the succession of a throne, tracking down a murderer, becoming a master card player, crafting a new coat, banishing a gh- what was I doing, again?
But in The Witcher 3, you feel less like you're following a set storyline than in Skyrim; your actions and choices make a more significant difference to the world than which soldiers are standing at the end of one battle. Even just within main quests, you make choices that dramatically alter your experience.


The world is vast and objectives aren't all that close to one another. So horse riding is an important component to The Witcher 3, with Geralt able to call his trusty horse, Roach, at any time. Roach can move quickly, with enough stamina to get him across fields in seconds. The only obstacle is the occasional wild animal attack. At one point, a trio of wild wolves launched an unprovoked attack, which frightened Roach and sent him scurrying away, leaving Geralt to fight them off. The world is filled with wildlife, some of which are hostile like the wolves, and others that can simply be wiped out for the heck of it. At one point, a group of deer wouldn't get out of my path, so I fileted them with fire magic and scooped the raw meat up for my inventory.

After dispatching the wolves, I headed over to the well to see another of The Witcher 3's main draws in action. Because Geralt is a knowledgeable Witcher, he fully scans the area with his Witcher senses and makes keen observations, not unlike forensics investigations. Geralt will make note of anything that seems out of place, while also making note of any strange behaviors. His investigation eventually leads him to the conclusion that a Noonwraith (a ghostly bride murdered on her wedding day) was haunting the area, which leaves instructions for how to prepare for the eventual battle. One of the best ways to do so is to scan The Witcher 3's Bestiary menu, which will offer lore on any creature (living or dead) that Geralt encounters. It'll also outline any creature weaknesses, indicating which magic spell Geralt should have equipped. In the case of the Noonwraith, Yrden magic is required to even expose the creature, otherwise it remains intangible.


The game is fairly open right from the start. After getting to the first small village I was almost immediately inundated with optional side quests. You can pick up quests by talking to NPCs, visiting a local job board, or by opening up the map and heading to one of the many "?" marks dotting the map. It's not all busywork either. One quest, for example, had me using my Witcher Senses to track down the arsonist who burned down a local blacksmith's shop. In this one instance I tracked the culprit's footprints back to his home and confronted the arsonist. By completing the quest I gained access to the Blacksmith's goods and services and also learned a bit about the state of racial tensions in the world of The Witcher.

As I moved through the side quests and a few of the main quests I was surprised how many adventure game elements the game contains. More often than not I felt like I was a strange hybrid of a monster hunter for hire and a hard-boiled noir detective. For example, in that arson side quest I mentioned above, I had to use my Witcher Senses, this game's version of Arkham Aslyum's detective vision, to follow a trail of clues to the culprit. Once I found him, I used my Axii magic spell to put him into a sort of Jedi Mind Trick trance so that I could safely transport him to the blacksmith for punishment. I found that a lot of quests could be resolved though talking, smart use of magical abilities, and through careful investigation. It really makes the game feel less straightforward and the times when combat has to occur more meaningful. Another quest much further into the game had me investigating how it was possible that three large bears were able to enter a Jarl's banquet hall and massacre several of the guests. After carefully investigating the scene and following the clues I was able to uncover the truth behind the assassination plot. Really, Geralt's dark sense of humor, nuanced morality, and penchant for monologuing to himself lends itself nicely to his role as a fantasy detective.

Geek Bomb chatted with quest designer Philip Weber:

Has there been any huge changes in the gameplay or the mechanics from the previous titles?

(The biggest change for us is that we now have an open world, so many of the quests actually work differently. You won't have the case anymore where people talk about a monster roaming the forest and it's like ten metres away from you that will not happen in this game. In general, and as an example, the combat system is a very refined version of The Witcher 2. Its combat system wasn't perfect. There were some complaints and we listened to them. I personally think that gameplay wise this is my favourite [of the series] and it works very well. I have a lot of fun with the combat system, which I always like to compare to a dance. You move a lot and there's a rhythm it's pretty cool.)

I actually did find it to be a bit like that, and it was really fun! Speaking of combat, one of the things that I really enjoyed was that there was no level adjustment when it came to fighting monsters. You actually had to level up a little bit before taking on certain foes. What was the inspiration behind this move?

(We always liked that in old school games you always felt a sense of accomplishment after you overcame a certain monster that you maybe couldn't defeat in the beginning. In many games that have been released in the last few years, monsters are always exactly as strong as you are at the time. For me personally it defeats the purpose of a role playing game because you improve your own skills but you also improve your characters. As an example, if the wolves in the prologue level give you issues, it's a nice feeling that twenty hours later you can return, do that [he snaps his fingers] and they all fall down and die.)

Level designer Miles Tost fielded and VP of Global Marketing Tomasz Jarzbowski fielded some questions from PlayStation LifeStyle:

PSLS: Given the multiple endings, how does The Witcher 3 fall within the works of the original lore by Andrzej Sapkowski?

M: Well, the games take place after the books basically finish. So, we have a good amount of creative freedom when it comes to actually designing that stuff. In terms of how that ties into the lore. Well, at some point you have to think that we are making a game, which is interactive and completely yours. We are big on the choice and consequence, and consequences result in different things happening to you and your character. So, there is a sort of line that you have to draw to make it more appealing to the players. If you knew how it ended, it might be kind of bland.

T: As an example of what Miles said, Andrej Sapkowski fully believed in terms of what we were going to deliver. We own the space, but of course we are trying to keep things as close to the lore as possible. But, on the other hand, Sapkowski believes, and he has full confidence in us and how we are going to use that. He knows that we are not going to extend this world into nonsense, so with some balance we are trying to keep on a proper level actually. He's fine with that, consumers and fans are fine with that as well and I think that the things we are going to deliver to the game will be appreciated by everyone.

M: For the record, he is the writer of the books, not the game.

T: He's actually pretty far away from the game. He has said that he really admires what we did in that world actually. He's not played, he's not a gamer, but he does understand what is going on on our end. Just because of the game, he discovers something completely new, something completely unique in terms of The Witcher approach. It was only a book in the past, and now it is a game that is getting bigger and bigger just because we are trying to expand to other countries and continents as well. So, to him is a completely unique approach, through the game he is reaching a completely new audience.

M: They co-exist really nicely.

T: A lot of things are also happening from a marketing perspective as well. We are going to release the mobile game very very soon, which is set up in The Witcher world, but is a different type of game. We have a board game, we have merchandise, we are trying to do as much to appeal to people from different perspectives.

GamePressure chatted with CD Projekt CEO Adam Badowski:

Don't you think that AAA games are nowadays chasing their own tail? They have to have more content, the game world has to be bigger, everyone keeps counting the square miles, there has to be way more secrets and side missions in comparison to other games, and the budgets keep on growing.

A fall of consoles dependant on AAA titles was once foretold. The prophets were entirely wrong however, as consoles keep selling splendidly. Similarly to the often criticized Call of Duty which I personally like a lot the game keeps selling well. Therefore, nothing changes in this aspect.

The industry must adjust itself from within, and there isn't a textbook definition on how to do that. We won't move to smaller countries, to do cheaper games there I'm talking mainly about American developers, where the costs of hiring specialists are very high. We have a way better situation with Poland being a '˜cheaper' country, where we pay less to our employees than in the US that's a fact. We gain from that a little, and have a chance to make bigger games. Besides, RPG's are being released rarely we operate within a niche.

To recap, I wouldn't forecast a fall of AAA games. There have been talks about it two years ago, in regard to indie games, but that's an entirely different segment of the market.

On one hand, you have mentioned a niche, but on the other Witcher 3 is supposed to be a game more targeted at the mainstream audience.

I don't want to sound conjunctural, but The Witcher 3 is being made with two different groups in mind. We've simply maintained the richness of the world, the plot is complex, more characters were implemented, there are thousands of unique dialogue sequences, that give hundred thousands (counting overall) opportunities to configure the dialogues while expanding and making the game world extremely more believable.

That is essential for RPG fans, for the Witcher fans, and for those who have been supporting us from the beginning. Meanwhile, the prologue and some features we are developing for the newcomers. It's also very important to us. Quest objectives are clear and understandable, while a player familiar with the world won't even take notice of them.

Will there be a chance to disable hints?

Yes, and then embark on a journey of a classic RPG-like adventurer. No one can accuse us of dumbing down the game. We've simply focused on making the plot, the world and the mechanics clear. We explain everything from the start, and every single character is introduced with a particular plotline. To be honest, the plot starts to unwind faster later one, after we've finished introducing everything in the beginning.

Finally, TheAdventureBits has a video interview with senior environment artist Jonas Mattesson: