If there's one game that can be held aloft as the standout player of 2015 then surely it would be The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Picking up the prestigious Game of the Year 2015 accolade as well as a myriad of other awards, the CD Projekt RED helmed The Witcher 3 made its mark on the gaming landscape even more so than its predecessors did, and they set a decent bar to beat.
But what's next for the franchise? With the second DLC pack, Blood And Wine, to be released across all platforms sometime in the second quarter of 2016, wrapping up the tale of The Witcher 3, where will the developers take us next, if anywhere at all?
There's not a whole lot of information available about the supposed The Witcher 4 as of yet, but here's a rundown of everything we've learned so far.
It Won't Feature Geralt
Say it ain't so! We've followed the tale of Geralt of Rivia ever since the very first game back in 2007, but way back before The Witcher 3 had even released we knew that this would be our last outing with Geralt.
In 2013 we first received the news when we were told that The Witcher 3 was to be the last entry in the series. This came via GameSpot and CD Projekt Red studio manager Adam Badowski who stated, "we believe that we should end the series on a high note." And The Witcher 3 was a damn high note.
But back in an interview with IGN in April 2015 CD Projekt Red writer Jakub Szamałek described Wild Hunt as the conclusion to Geralt's story, but not necessarily the end of the series altogether:
"I think good stories must have an ending. You cannot extend them indefinitely, and we felt that Geralt has had such an amazing adventure, and his saga is already so long and complex that this seemed like a good point to think about an appropriate finale for the story."
While the old warhorse that is Geralt may have been put out to pasture, there's still hope for a series narrative universe yet. Szamałek went on to say that the vastness of the world presented in the games leaves a great deal of scope to return to, with numerous NPCs, characters, and places yet to be explored.
It's At Least A Couple Years Away
But while CD Projekt RED might return to the world of The Witcher, it's not going to be for a while yet. The most recent news we've heard on the topic was from CD Projekt Red CEO Marcin Iwinski in September when, speaking to Game Informer magazine, he clarified that the studio hasn't given much thought yet to where they're going to take the series and when:
"[The Witcher series] deserves some rest. The past 10 years the team has been working on swords and castles and medieval Slavic monsters. So I think it's time for some guns, androids, and some ammo. And a necropolis. So this is what we'll be working on."
One thing is for sure though, Iwinski said we should never expect The Witcher to become an annual franchise along the lines of Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed, a series infamous for suffering from a rushed release model with 2014's Unity.
"We definitely are not annualizing a franchise or anything--it's about the experience. The world of The Witcher is gigantic and it's great to tell these stories, but I don't know when this will happen."
Well, at least it's a 'when' rather than an 'if.'
It's completely fair to say it's time to let the series rest for a while, but given that the release time between the three instalments in the series thus far has been four years apiece, how long does this mean we'll be waiting for The Witcher 4?
It's not all bad though, because the reason we'll be waiting a little longer sounds like it'll be worth waiting for.
Right now CD Projekt RED is full steam ahead with current project Cyberpunk 2077, a sci-fi RPG that promises to be even bigger than The Witcher 3 (and looks all kinds of amazing).
Like The Witcher series, which was based on the Andrzej Sapkowski novels of the same name, Cyberpunk 2077 draws its basic narrative from the Cyberpunk 2020 series of tabletop playing games.
Cyberpunk 2020 is set in the fictional Night City in the year 2020 during a dystopian period of martial law resulting from the city being controlled by mega-corporations who used their money and status to take power from the government following a socio-economical collapse, so expect guns and politics.
CD Projekt RED has been keeping their cards pretty close to their chest regarding Cyberpunk 2077, so there's not much other information available. What we do know is that it's going to have a non-linear narrative and, like the tabletop games, it will feature different character classes. It will also feature both first-person and third-person perspectives, as well as a multiplayer mechanic.
It's been a whole three years since the game was first announced and it's been in the works since then, yet we still don't have a solid release date for it yet. The trailer tells us it will release simply "when it's ready." Thanks CD Projekt RED, real helpful. Nothing like bursting the hype balloon.
You can check out the official website for Cyberpunk 2077 news here, and the awesome cinematic trailer below.
According to Michal Nowakowski, CD Projekt RED's SVP, the majority of the studio is now focusing on Cyberpunk 2077 before other projects, so it's doubtful that we'll get any further news on The Witcher 4 until their current work has been wrapped up. At least we have guns, androids, and some ammo to look forward to in the meantime.