5 things CD Projekt Red should do with the next Witcher game
A new Witcher game is in development, but to succeed it will need to be different than previous chapters. Here are five things CD Projekt Red should do with the next Witcher game.
After the Witcher 3, it’s surreal to now think that a sequel is on the way. It’s incredibly exciting, but after the troubled launch of CyberPunk 2077 and a long absence, many fans are likely to be nervous about what’s next for The Witcher.
The sands have shifted since Geralt’s last outing, and even though Wild Hunt is still celebrated today, open-world games have continued to evolve.
To succeed, the next title will need to take some bold new steps, as simply making another Witcher 3 won’t cut it. There’s also new hardware to consider and the fact that the most recent game in the series was positioned as a conclusion.
We’re likely to see a new beginning rather than a sequel for the sake of a sequel, but if the success of the franchise is to carry on, there are a few things that need to happen.
1. A new playable character
The Witcher 3 felt like the last hurrah for the ever-popular Geralt of Rivia, with the character settling down with Triss or Yennifer (or neither) at his vineyard, while taking on an occasional monster-hunting contract.
There was an air of finality to Geralt’s story, regardless of the ending we saw. This made many assume that another Witcher game would never happen. However, in 2015 CD Projekt Red CEO Adam Kicinski said, “We work within this universe for over a dozen years now and I don’t think it’s going to be the end of it,” meaning there was always hope.
Now that it’s happening, throwing Geralt back into the mix could feel like a betrayal of this ending, or to some, turning the series into a cash cow with an unnecessary sequel. Fortunately, the prospect of a new game has many fans hyped, the franchise is bigger than ever, and the world is ready for it. Though, if we’re to respect what’s come before, Geralt should probably sit this one out, at least for the most part.
While we fully expect Geralt to play some role, this time the titular ‘Witcher’ could refer to his protege and adopted daughter Ciri. A Witcher in her own right, Ciri was the secondary playable character in the previous title and the focus of Geralt’s quest. We could see the new Witcher game flipping this dynamic, giving the player control of Ciri on a mission to save, or find, Geralt.
Could Ciri be the playable character?
Ciri is a fan favorite and having her set out on a quest to find her mentor could conveniently explain Geralt’s absence, allowing her to take center stage in the next game. By the end of The Witcher 3, she is much more than just a Witcher and is closer to being a superhero. Therefore, it’s expected the character would need to be nerfed significantly to tone down her overpowered nature.
To achieve this, some catastrophe could befall her – something that could also connect to Geralt’s hypothetical disappearance. Ciri would then need to rely on her skills and Witcher training, rather than her powers. It would be fun to regain her powers one by one and use them in combat. That could really differentiate the new Witcher game from previous entries.
CD Projekt Red writer Jakub Szamalek has also expressed interest in using Ciri as the main playable character. In a 2020 interview with VG247, Szamalek expressed regret that Ciri didn’t have a bigger role in the Witcher 3, then saying, “But hey, maybe it’s something we’ll get back to in the future.”
Create your own Witcher
It could also go down the ‘create your own protagonist’ route. Think Skyrim, Fallout, or Elden Ring. If Ciri or Geralt are training a new generation of Witchers, then the protagonist could essentially be an avatar of the player.
This would open up the option to build your own Witcher, focusing on the skills you want. That way, you could create an all-rounder like Geralt, or a build who fights primarily with magic and potions.
Or why not be a ranged Witcher who only reaches for their silver sword to strike the killing blow on a monster? More customization options would be a big boost in terms of replayability and appeal to more play styles.
2. A compelling antagonist
The threat of the Wild Hunt loomed over the Witcher 3.
Not only was it a race against time to find Ciri before these spooky wraith-like creeps did, but their very nature and intentions were also shrouded in mystery until the end. The plot twist revealing who (or what) they really were somehow only made them scarier, more fearsome, and even somewhat sympathetic – if not tragic.
The next game will need to feature an antagonist that matches them, creating a threat level and intrigue. It also can’t be some two-dimensional ‘evil for evil’s sake’ villain either. Whoever we’re up against in the next Witcher game needs to tug on the heartstrings, and taking them down needs to be something that makes fans feel both relief and guilt. There needs to be repercussions to their defeat, but even more for failure.
How about multiple antagonists or factions to side with? Joining one could make an enemy of the other. It could simply be down to the player to decide who’s the lesser evil – and there always needs to be a cost to our decision, like in previous installments.
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A future antagonist could be a new invading army. One that threatens the uneasy peace that has now fallen over the land, or a dark supernatural force. There are multiple enemies still alive in the games to choose from, or the series could look to the books for inspiration.
Characters like Gaunter O’Dimm could be out for revenge against Geralt and Ciri. He’s essentially the Devil of the Witcher universe, so defeating him is not only difficult, it could come with unknown consequences. Do entities like Gaunter need to exist, even with their unsavory plots?
The character is still around after all, and let’s not forget the threat he made to Geralt upon his defeat. In an unknown language, Gaunter tells Geralt, “You are primitive. You think you’ve defeated me but you are wrong. I can’t be killed, I will be back.” This haunting line also implies that defeat by mortals is nothing more than a mild inconvenience to Gaunter.
3. Difficult moral choices
What makes this series so well suited to the medium of gaming is the tough, morally gray choices the player often needs to make. There’s never an objectively ‘good’ or ‘bad’ choice, it’s usually based on what you think as the player, and other players may disagree profoundly.
For example, in The Witcher 3, you’ll need to rescue a group of children from some cannibalistic witches. A powerful tree spirit offers to help you, but to do so, you will need to release him from his prison. If you do, he shall keep his word and help you rescue the captive children, but he’ll also then massacre a nearby town full of people in retribution for his imprisonment.
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Without the spirit’s help, the witches will kill the children, so you’re essentially choosing between them and the town. Most games would give you a way to save everyone, but not The Witcher. So whatever path you pick, you’ll always be wondering if you did the right thing.
This system needs to come back and CD Projekt Red should double down on it. These agonizing choices also need to influence the world and its population’s perception of you over time. While this will inevitably lead to some doors being closed in your face, others will be open elsewhere as a result, contributing to a more immersive world.
4. Learn from Breath of the Wild and Elden Ring
Games like Zelda Breath of the Wild and Elden Ring (largely) did away with traditional waypoints and the ‘go here, do that’ approach to open-world game design. While The Witcher 3 was a far cry from games like, well, Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed in terms of waypoint placement, the next entry could benefit from a more minimalistic approach.
When exploring a new region of the world, an emphasis should be placed on exploration over linear missions. The Witcher 3 was one of the biggest and best open worlds ever built, but there was room for improvement when it came to discovery.
The developers should just drop players into the world and let them forge their own path. This could be achieved by having several towns near the beginning point, each offering various low-level quests to get you started. Having multiple hub areas, rather than just one, in the early hours of the game will mean no two players’ experiences will be the same.
5. Satisfying and varied combat
While there was nothing especially wrong with The Witcher 3’s combat, it will need to be shaken up if the next game is to differentiate itself from its predecessor – incorporating new mechanics, weapons, and styles of play.
Witchers usually fight with two swords: A silver one for monsters and an iron one for humans. This makes play tactical and varied, but with the introduction of new Witcher schools, such as the school of the Lynx, there is a golden opportunity to explore new styles of monster slaying. For example, what if the player used silver arrows, rapiers, or large broadswords to take down kikimoras?
Geralt’s traditional fighting style will need to be readily available, but it’s time to see new ways to battle your way through the journey. Combat needs more heft in order to be satisfying.
So that’s everything we know so far about the next Witcher game. For more on the biggest upcoming releases, check out our pages on some of the most-anticipated games that have been announced: