CD Projekt RED is probably one of the few developers out there that could delay a game’s release multiple times and have the overwhelming majority of players be thankful for it. It helps that the recent announcement of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt‘s three-month delay came within a climate when the industry was still stinging from the woefully buggy release of Assassin’s Creed Unity, and the reason given for the delay was that CD Projekt RED didn’t want to release a “badly polished” game.
There’s a lot to polish, as The Witcher 3 is much bigger than the two previous games in the series. It will also bring in new elements from Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy book series about Geralt of Rivia, including the introduction of key character Ciri: a princess, sorceress and witcheress (yes, all three). Although Ciri has only been briefly mentioned in the games, her role in The Witcher 3 is so important that she is actually playable at certain points in the game.
This doesn’t mean that players will have the option of playing through the whole campaign as Ciri; Geralt is still the main character. Based on CD Projekt Red’s description it sounds like the Ciri sections of the game will be similar to the Catwoman gameplay in Batman: Arkham City, or the sequence in The Last of Us where Ellie is playable: not a dominant part of the game, but still an interesting and valuable new perspective on the story.
“Adding Ciri as a playable character unlocks quite a few narrative possibilities for the team, though while Ciri is a major character, she is not a playable character in the same way as Geralt — the game is still about him, his story and how you, as the player, choose to face the choices and encounters in front of you.
“Ciri boasts exceptional swordfighting abilities, as well as several unique skills that will gradually unlock as you play. She’s fast and agile, she can blink (as seen in the Elder Blood trailer), but — most importantly — there’s something dormant in her, a mythical power.”
Ciri’s weapons are a witcher sword and a dagger, so it’s easy to see how her combat mechanics could be integrated with Geralt’s. The “unique skills” certainly sound interesting; it’s probably too much to hope for an actual skill tree for a side character, so it’s more likely that Ciri’s growing abilities will be tied into the plot of the game and the “mythical power” that she possesses. Depending on Geralt’s fate in The Witcher 3, it’s possible that CD Projekt RED may even decide to make Ciri the main character in a sequel.
When Geralt encounters Ciri in The Witcher 3, she is being pursued by the game’s titular Wild Hunt as well as the Nilfgaardian Empire, which is notoriously intolerant of other races (Ciri is the descendant of “a long-lost Elven-blood lineage”). Geralt has history with both of these factions, so it’s easy to imagine why he would want to ally with Ciri against them.
There are sure to be plenty of “Siri” jokes made about the character, but this is definitely an intriguing new addition to the scope of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt‘s narrative and gameplay.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will release on May 19, 2015 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.