The Witcher 3: What is a Next-Gen RPG?

After visiting the CD Projekt RED headquarters in Poland, Eurogamer has taken advantage of the slow holiday weekend to wrangle up an extensive article-style, console-oriented interview that features plenty of new information about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and a slew of commentary from writer Jakub Szamalek, lead character artist Pawel Mielniczuk, environment artist Jonas Mattsson, lead engine programmer Balázs Török, and others. Definitely worth your time:

The importance of time-saving tools when building huge open-world games like The Witcher 3 cannot be understated. Jonas Mattsson told me about a forest-making tool that factors angle of terrain and likely rainfall location and then sprouts a forest. "You would get this natural-looking forest within seconds based upon the values of how rain would fall etc," he said.

Lighting, too, will react to the physical properties of an object, reflecting more realistically. All an artist need do is to pick a material and create the object - the engine computes the rest. "It's just another level of realism," said Pawel Mielniczuk. There's even next-gen fur.

"Physics-based rendering is certainly something that's making the game look much much better," concluded Jonas Mattsson. "We want to have the quality of The Witcher 2 but applied to a large scale. And it's a huge challenge."

More AI characters can be spawned now and they will move and behave more believably. Balázs Török was impressed by the big and believable crowds in Hitman: Absolution. "You didn't see puppets just standing there," he said. "More games will do things like this."

It all adds up to better immersion in a world sculpted by you. "RPG games are very similar to very good movies with good storylines which you remember after you exit from the cinema," said game director Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, "but with this difference: you're deciding what happens, and you are these characters and you feel what this character feels.

"I hope that's where all the next-gen RPGs will go, and give us these unique emotions we can achieve only playing the RPG games."