How The Witcher 3's Best Quest Was Made

PC Gamer's Andy Kelly has talked with some of the people involved in the making of the Family Matters quest for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a quest that has received an overwhelming amount of praise and is often cited as a highlight of the game, to the point where it overshadows practically every other moment in the title, which is impressive given it can last more than 100 hours. The result is a three-page piece that examines the quest from its starting concept all the way to the final voice acting recording.

The focus is mostly on the character of the Bloody Baron, who was inspired by designer Paweł Sasko's childhood memories:

(We needed a character that personified Velen, with all of its beauty and troubles,) Paweł Sasko, designer of the quest, tells me. (The Baron is a soldier, much like we have today, who comes back from war with PTSD and alcohol issues. He's unstable and unpleasant, but he also has positive traits. He loves his family and would do anything for them.)

The roots of Family Matters can be traced back to Sasko's childhood, growing up in a poor village in the Polish mountains. (I saw families destroyed by alcoholism and violence,) he says. (I saw parents fighting with each other and beating their kids, but they were also in love and loyal to their family.) Fascinated by this complexity, Sasko went to university and took a PhD in psychology to help him understand people better.

The Baron knows where to find Ciri, but won't tell Geralt until he helps him find his missing wife and daughter. (The Baron was created as a parallel to Geralt,) says Sasko. (They're two fathers who have lost their loved ones; two men with blood on their hands; they both have personality issues; they'd do anything for their families.)

It's clear they don't entirely trust each other, and their relationship is uneasy, but these similarities mean Geralt connects with the Baron on a personal level whether he likes to admit it or not. On the surface the Baron is charismatic, likeable, and quick to make a joke, but there's a dark side to him that slowly unravels. You find yourself sympathising with him one moment, and cursing him the next.