From PC exclusive to Xbox 360 and then fully next-gen – CD Projekt continues to push The Witcher franchise to new systems.
Speaking exclusively to VG247, the developer of The Witcher series has said that it’s crucial the game reaches as wide an audience as possible via the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles.
The series started as a PC exclusive, before the sequel made the jump to the Xbox 360. The next in the series, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, is due for release on PC as well as the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft.
“For The Witcher 2 it was very hard to make the game run on the Xbox 360.”
“With The Witcher 3 we knew that we would have to reach a wider audience,” CD Projekt Red’s Mical Gilewski told VG247.
“We needed to be on the new consoles and in particular the PS4, because a lot of people are attracted to them.”
According to Gilewsky, the leap to new-gen systems finally allows the team to open up a previously linear series and embrace the potential of console technology.
“It’s only with the next-gen consoles that we can do much more,” he offered. “Open-world was something we’ve always wanted to do and we believed that was the missing element for this story. To make it truly immersive we had to let people explore it their way. We always wanted this but we couldn’t because of technical limitations and because of the experience and size of the team.”
“For The Witcher 2 it was very hard to make the game run on the Xbox 360. It was a demanding game, system-wise on PC. Then we had to squeeze all that on the other platform. We had to redo a lot of the stuff inside the game.
“We had to limit it to keep the same experience without cutting [content] out. The good thing is we were experienced and had a lot of guys who knew a lot about the consoles. It was our first console game. The game looked beautiful. There were a few games at that moment and some that came out later – they looked great. I can’t believe what developers squeezed out of consoles like the 360,” he added.
The Witcher 3’s open world is stunning to look at, with distinct regions clearly influenced by a variety of fiction, from Norse mythology to The Brothers Grimm. This setting is where CD Projekt wants to combine it’s traditional single-player driven storyline with the freedom found in an open-world game.
“We didn’t want to choose between a story driven game and a sandbox game,” he said. “We wanted to connect the two.
“Whatever you do you’ll be surrounded by the story and you’ll be attracted by things that are happening around you. We wanted to avoid repetition and we wanted diversity. Not just in the player’s adventures but in the assets. No one wants to stagger around the same place again and again.”
“We are introducing characters in a way that if you don’t know them you will not feel that you’re missing something. If you do know them, it it’s us winking at you.”
Despite the open nature of the setting, Gilewski said that Wild Hunt will still feel like a Witcher game, even though the developer hopes to attract a new audience to the series.
“For me this game is a little bit more like The Witcher 1 – the whole story revolves around you,” he offered. “With The Witcher 2 it was more about politics. Here, everything revolves around The Witcher character. It will appeal to all the fans – this focus on Geralt and making him the real protagonist of the story.
“One of the lessons we learned from the Witcher 2 was that people didn’t have to have played the previous game but they got the impression that they should have.
“We are starting from scratch but at the same moment making sure all the fans are going to find a lot of familiar elements – NPCs, places, story – some connection. We are introducing them in a way that if you don’t know them you will not feel that you’re missing something. If you do know them, it it’s us winking at you.”
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is due for release February 24 on PC, Xbox One and PS4.