Don’t ignore the Witcher 4’s warning signs

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If you’d asked me if I wanted The Witcher 4 back at the launch of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the answer would have been an emphatic yes. Naturally, there’d be caveats: the story would have to be right, there’d have to be a good reason to return to that world, but the opportunity to return to that rich, monster-filled kingdom would be too tempting to ignore.

That was back in 2015, though. 

The recent Witcher 4 teaser, an image of a lynx medallion resting in pure white snow, doesn’t tell us much. The accompanying announcement, stating the development team has dropped its in-house engine for Epic’s Unreal Engine 5, told us little more.

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

It’s an exciting teaser for fans, of course; the lynx’s head medallion shows CD Projekt Red is departing from the lore of the books to strike its own path – there is no mention of a School of the Lynx in Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels, so this must be a new Witcher school entirely. 

CD Projekt lost its luster

However, since The Witcher 3’s launch, CD Projekt Red has released another massive game, one not nearly so well received. While critic scores for Cyberpunk 2077 pre-launch were high, the overwhelming reaction post-release has been… quite negative. The RPG launched in a poor state, with significant bugs ruining players’ experience; it stung all the more because it fell short of the promise of its early demos and had a general lifelessness to its world. It was a terrible letdown from such a talented developer. Even those digging for diamonds in the rough should admit that, at its best, Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t a patch on The Witcher 3, frequently dropping the ball in its storytelling and falling into plenty of lazy tropes and stereotypes.

A thug in Cyberpunk 2077

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

Part of this may be due to a simple fact: The CD Projekt Red that made The Witcher 3 is not the one that made Cyberpunk 2077. Quest Designer Nikolas Kolm, a massive role in The Witcher 3’s success, moved from the studio to work at Ubisoft on the highly-praised Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Nor was Kolm the only key staff member to do so. 

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