In the run up to its release, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is whipping up a storm. It has the potential to ride the Xbox One and PS4’s hardware to its limit, using CD Projekt RED’s internal REDengine 3 to render environments and characters that will do justice to the finely tuned worlds once set out by Andrezj Sapkowski. We had the opportunity to talk to Michał Krzemiński – senior art producer at the studio – about how his game hits upon all the core mechanics a gamer expects from an RPG, and what the game can achieve with the new powers made available with next-gen tech.
You’ve previously stated that the game will feature ’36 different endings, 12 world states and 3 fully playable epilogues’ – can you tell us how the game will accommodate for so many different possibilities?
Michał Krzemiński: Choices and consequences. It’s something we popularized and put emphasis on since the beginning of The Witcher series. Basically, you make a choice (remember, inaction is also a choice!) and you have to face its consequences. This mechanic allows us to weave a lot of moments into gameplay which influence the world during later parts of the game, and determine one of the many endings you’ll see when you beat the main story arc. We have certain key choices throughout the whole game and they culminate at the end. Everything’s connected and it’s done in a very non-intrusive way, sometimes you might not even think that that choice is so pivotal in the later part of the game.
In a lot of other RPGs, part of the appeal to players is the ability to create their character in their own image. Geralt is as rigid in his design as they come – how do you think offering the one, definite player character sets you apart from other RPGs?
Ha! I could turn the question around and say that in a lot of other RPGs, part of the appeal to players is a strong, well-defined character, who is so awesome, you just don’t want to change anything (well, some small cosmetic changes, maybe). Think Batman, think Lord Vader, think Lara Croft… We see Geralt as a guy who’s so cool because of who he is; he’s a witcher, an elite warrior who hunts big-ass monsters and is second to none when it comes to solving problems.
People often compare the Witcher series of games to the Elder Scrolls – do you think these comparisons are relevant? Do you think your series appeals to the same audience of Bethesda’s?
That’s a tough question. At their core, both games are RPGs and there is a big number of similarities between them. However, the deeper you go, the more differences you see. Ultimately, I think that Skyrim and The Witcher 3 are entirely different games. Skyrim is a sandbox set in an open world. You get a set of game mechanics and you play with them. The Witcher 3 is all about the story, it’s the core of the whole game and around this core, you get a huge, open world with a ton of things to do. In terms of audience, well, I think that it’s not the case that if you like The Witcher, you can’t like the Elder Scrolls (or the other way around). You can like both games for what they offer and get a different kind of buzz from playing them.
What has the next-gen hardware allowed you to do specifically that was unobtainable on previous generations?
There’s no one specific thing that next-gens allowed us to do. There’s a whole ton of them. Essentially, the game can look mind blowing, we’ve got seamless gameplay with no loading screens (almost everything is streamed during gameplay, cutscenes etc.), we can add visual effects unavailable to us because of performance issues and so on, the list is huge. All this constitutes a giant, lush open world with a myriad of things to do, quests, adventures, monster hunts, events and so on.
The full interview with Michał Krzemiński is available in games™ issue 146, out now.