In the world of video games, success is much, much more than a double-edged sword. With higher sales usually comes a higher budget, and higher expectations. Such is the case for CD Projekt Red, with the mainstream success of The Witcher 2 making the studio - and the series - a household name for RPG fans. Now the hopes and hype have been raised for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, meaning the developers won't have to just craft a game to satisfy fans, but welcome a brand new audience.
While success bringing a larger audience is unavoidable, any decision to - for lack of a better word - adjust the design to cater to that larger audience is usually met with controversy. But the developers haven't earned their reputation for their shrewd business practices, having stated that DLC will and should be free, and claiming the resolution gap between the PS4 and Xbox One are meaningless. So it's not surprising that their plan to bring in new players is being pitched as a logical one.
Speaking with CD Projekt Red studio head Adam Badowski at E3 2014, he explained that The Witcher 2 didn't just bring the studio more attention, but lessons as well. Those will have a serious impact on the structure of The Witcher 3's campaign, meaning that although the game is closing a trilogy, it won't be throwing players into the deep end from the start:
"The Witcher 2 starts... maybe it's too intense? The very first part of [The Witcher 3] is very slow-paced, you don't need to know the characters. We provide some details about Witchers, about the crucial elements of who 'The Witcher' is, what is the meaning of monster-hunting, and then some small portions of the storyline... of course you can expect some epic moments, but you need time to be sucked into the story."
We previously explained how Game Director Konrad Tomaszkiewicz feels that Geralt of Rivia is as well-established as Batman at this point, making it possible for each game to truly stand as a separate chapter. Despite promising "an epic ending" to the trilogy with Wild Hunt , the developers claim that not only will the game be playable for newcomers, but may be the entry in the series best designed to welcome in the unfamiliar:
"It's true, actually, we are sure of that. We want newcomers to the series, that's why we made it in a way that it's a standalone game. So all newcomers can enjoy this game right from the beginning. Even more, I think it may be be the best game to start with. We want people to enter the game, and we made it quite smooth. There's no wall of...'pure-blood-ish' RPGs straight at the beginning."
"We'll see in the end how you judge it, but I'm expecting that people will enjoy being a real Witcher, and they will be able to do whatever they want, because this is role-playing. On the other hand, they will know what they want to do because that's important as well. We don't want to just throw people somewhere into a huge war."
As the developers themselves admit, only time will tell how well they have pulled off the complicated task. But with a style and cast that is instantly captivating, and an open world ambitious enough to require a delayed release date, we would say they've earned the benefit of the doubt.
Will you be taking your first foray into the world of The Witcher with Wild Hunt? Or do you have concerns any time a franchise promises to welcome new players with ease? Share your thoughts in the comments.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt releases February 24, 2015 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
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