Polish video game developer CD Projekt Red has unveiled ambitious plans to begin production on the next installment in The Witcher series, currently codenamed Polaris, later this year. The company is also exploring the possibility of a Cyberpunk 2077 multiplayer component.
Witcher 4 Production Ramp-Up Planned for 2024
In an interview with Polish financial publication Bankier, CD Projekt CEO Adam Kiciński stated that 2023 will be a year focused on research and development for the company’s two main franchises, Cyberpunk and The Witcher. However, 2024 is when things will kick into high gear:
“2024 is the year when we want to start high-budget production of the first game from The Witcher saga.”
While The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was a smash hit, becoming one of the most awarded games of all time, the Cyberpunk 2077 launch was notoriously troubled. It seems the company is now ready to turn its attention back to its most successful fantasy franchise.
Table 1: Timeline of Upcoming CD Projekt Releases
|The Witcher Series
|Polaris Production Starts
|Potential Cyberpunk MP
|The Witcher 4 Release
Polaris Plot Still a Mystery
While confirmation that the next chapter in Geralt of Rivia’s saga is ramping up is exciting news for fans, concrete details remain scarce for now. In the interview, Kiciński references Polaris potentially being the start of a “Witcher saga”, implying plans for a new trilogy. When asked about more specifics however, he replied:
“I won’t reveal anything about the plot. The conveying storyline is something that gamers should discover themselves while playing the game.”
Longtime Witcher game director Adam Badowski did state that Polaris would mark the beginning of “another multi-game saga”. The suggestion seems to be that Polaris will kick off a new narrative focus, not directly continue the events of Wild Hunt.
Given the immense popularity of The Witcher 3’s emotionally charged narrative, expectations will be incredibly high for the writing and worldbuilding introduced in Polaris. Let’s hope CD Projekt’s renewed Witcher focus allows them to deliver another genre-defining RPG epic.
AI Worker Replacement Not in the Cards
While discussing preparations for the next chapter in Geralt’s story, Badowski also officially shot down rumors that AI tools could replace human developers at the studio:
“I want to state it clearly: We are not using AI to replace employees or hire less people. We want to create better games and use technology only where it brings real value.”
Fears of AI encroaching on creative roles has become a hot topic given recent advancements in natural language models like ChatGPT. Game studios leveraging AI to cut costs has worrying implications, so Badowski’s statement will likely reassure fans and developers alike.
Multiplayer Cyberpunk Sequel Possible
On the Cyberpunk side of things, Kiciński revealed that the studio is considering incorporating multiplayer elements into Cyberpunk’s eventual sequel:
“Acquiring Red Engine and transforming it into CD Projekt Red Engine was our first step towards online experiences, but there is still a lot of work to be done. We analyze different approaches, but the final decision has not yet been made in this regard.”
Cyberpunk 2077’s launch woes are no secret, with the game being pulled from the Playstation Store for months due to severe technical issues. While patches, updates, and expansions have since improved things considerably, there are still calls for deeper mechanics and functionality like multiplayer.
Adding a standalone multiplayer experience set in the Cyberpunk universe could be an effective way to experiment with new concepts without compromising a traditional singleplayer sequel. If done well, it could significantly expand Night City’s long term player base.
While these announcements lay the groundwork for CD Projekt’s general roadmap over the next few years, many specifics are still up in the air. We will likely get more concrete details on scope, platforms, and launch targets for both Polaris and Cyberpunk’s multiplayer ambitions later this year and into 2024.
For now, we can expect lots of research and prototyping by the developers in 2023 before production scales up. This lines up with a late 2025 or 2026 release window for The Witcher 4 if the production cycle is comparable to Wild Hunt’s near 4 year development.
Are you excited for CD Projekt’s renewed focus on The Witcher franchise? What would you like to see from Geralt’s next adventure in Polaris? Let us know in the comments!
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