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An open letter from Marcin Iwiński and the development team behind Gwent outlines CD Projekt's current plans for their The Witcher-themed CCG. In short, the developers acknowledge that the recent updates diluted their original vision for the game and because of that they're going to dedicate the upcoming six months to getting back to that vision, revamping some of Gwent's gameplay elements, and bringing back the darker aesthetic reminiscent of The Witcher games.
When this is done, the game will leave beta and see a full release alongside with the delayed Thronebreaker story campaign. Check it out:
I love GWENT — especially when I am winning. At times, I hate it — it’s when I get my ass kicked. GWENT is one of the very few games I play almost every day (I clocked close to 350 hours). Why am I telling you this? It’s because I want you to know that I’m invested and treat GWENT very personally.
I still remember the excitement of E3 2016 when we announced GWENT on PC and consoles. It was a blast! Well received by both you — gamers — and the media, I think we couldn't have had a better opening. And boy..., were we naive. Compared to the single player RPGs we had been creating so far, we didn’t realize how different it was to operate and develop a live game at the same time.
A year later, we took GWENT to Public Beta and — again — tons of gamers jumped in and checked it out. We still had a lot to learn. But, as always, we adapted. What we didn’t realize back then was that we also started slowly drifting away from our original vision for standalone GWENT. While fighting with the everyday reality of regular updates and content drops, we lost sight of what was unique and fun about the game. And you played a big role in making us realize that. Thank you for your sincere feedback!
We have never accepted ‘good enough’ at our company. We have always taken risks and made bold decisions if we believed they would result in a better game. And, you’ve guessed it, we’ve just made one now.
We call this project GWENT Homecoming.
We want GWENT to kick some serious ass and reignite your passion for our beloved CCG. We would like to ask you for your trust and patience. We need 6 months of fully-focused development to deliver what we’ve planned. Aside from standard season transitions and events like Faction Challenges or Warped Arena rulesets, we will release only two updates during this time. One in April — it will introduce the missing Premium Cards as well as faction specific board skins — and one in May, which will balance out the game (Wardancer included) with a new approach to “Create”. Six months is a long time, however, on the flip side, after Homecoming concludes, we will go out of beta and release Thronebreaker at the same time. Don’t worry about your progress, once Homecoming is complete, for a limited time, you will have the ability to mill all of your cards for their full value. Regarding our esports activities, for now, our calendar is not changing.
As for details on Homecoming, Kasia and Rafał, GWENT’s leads, have broken down the project into the following key pillars:
- Turning GWENT into a battlefield
When you play GWENT, you are a leader of an army from the world of The Witcher. We want to put more effort into reflecting that in in-game mechanics and visuals. As an example, we would like to introduce a preferred row for some cards that would grant them additional benefits when put on that row. Also, rows in the front and back would always grant a different buff when a unit is placed there.
- Upgrading the board
Currently, rows don’t have direct impact on gameplay. If we count the hands of both players, we are looking at 8 rows in total. Our greatest visual assets — card art and premium versions of cards — are too small to shine in the current view. What we’re aiming for is a complete overhaul of the visual experience. The redesign will leave no stone unturned. We are even considering cutting one of the rows and leaving only melee and range. It’s still something that requires extensive testing, but we’re that serious about making things work.
- Fixing the coin mechanic
Currently, going second can give players a significant advantage. We heard you — we will ‘fix the coin flip’ and are already testing possible solutions.
- Revamping player progression
We have a lot of things planned for new and returning players. We will be offering a proper tutorial to ease first time players into playing GWENT. There will also be a new leveling system, achievements and a revised ranked mode — all with suitable rewards.
- Focusing on skill and player agency
We heard you discussing the “Create” mechanic. At first, we thought it would be an interesting addition to the game, but — as time passed — we realized that this form of wide RNG is not something that fits our focus on player skill. We will be extra careful with these types of mechanics in the redesign process. That said, if we manage to find some cards interesting enough to include, but ‘too crazy for Ranked’, they will still have their place in Arena and Casual Mode.
- Re-focusing on core gamers
We want GWENT to remain a deep game, where each faction has its identity and offers distinctive gameplay archetypes. We want rows to really matter in terms of gameplay, and gameplay itself needs to be engaging and rewarding.
- Bringing back The Witcher
Homecoming will bring back a darker aesthetic and mood, more in sync with the original Witcher lore. We’ll change the main menus and in-game shop, as well as work on a consistent UI and UX throughout the entire game.
We saved the best for last. After Homecoming concludes, we will launch GWENT along with Thronebreaker — our single player campaign. A dedicated team has been hard at work to deliver you a great new story from the Witcher universe. Expect goodness!
Marcin Iwiński, co-founder / joint CEO
Katarzyna Redesiuk, Game Director
Rafał Jaki, Product Director