The Witcher 4 is happening! Although it may not arrive anytime soon, we do at least know that developer CD Projekt Red is working on our next jaunt through Rivia. Back in March, CDPR said it was “happy to announce that the next installment of The Witcher series of video games is currently in development, kicking off a new saga for the franchise” in a special announcement (opens in new tab).
CD Projekt Red has now elaborated on that a little more, saying that The Witcher 4 has concluded its “research phase”. This is a brilliant milestone to have, as it means the game is now heading towards the very early stages of true development and pre-production.
Although details are scarce right now, what we do know is that it won’t be launching anytime soon, with the game’s announcement coming with neither a release date nor platforms confirmed nor even teased. it’s clear that the developer has quite a bit on its plate already. It’s working on the Witcher 3 PS5 and Xbox Series X upgradeand continuing to beaver away on DLC and patches for Cyberpunk 2077having just released the PS5 and Xbox Series X upgrades for the futuristic title.
For now, we’ll just have to keep binge-watching the Netflix series and reading the Dandelion fan fiction, but here’s everything we know so far about the next installment of one of the best RPGs.
The Witcher 4 title
Witcher 4 title: Will it be called the Witcher 4?
For now, it’s a lot easier to call the next Witcher game, The Witcher 4, because until it has an official name, that’s basically what it is. CD Projekt Red Global PR Director, Radek Grabowski, has even clarified that the developer hasn’t announced a game called The Witcher 4:
What we have NOT announced today:- A game called The Witcher 4.- A game exclusive to one storefront.It was our initial confirmation of a new saga in The Witcher franchise. Right now, we are not discussing any specifics in terms or story, characters, mechanics, or plot details.March 21, 2022
Back in 2018, CD Projekt Red CEO Adam Kiciński basically confirmed that the game won’t be called The Witcher 4 too, so you can pretty much count on the fact that this new Witcher game will be something a little different.
“The first three ‘Witchers’ were by definition a trilogy, so we simply could not name the next game ‘The Witcher 4’. This does not mean, of course, that we will leave the world of The Witcher,” said Kiciński in an interview with Banker.
That was merely an echo of a similar comment made in March 2017 by CD Projekt Red co-founder, Marcin Iwinski, during a CD Projekt Red investor call.
“The Witcher was designed as a trilogy and a trilogy cannot have a fourth part, can it?” said Iwinski. “We like this world a lot. We invested 15 years of our lives in it and a lot of money. So, we’ll think about [making a new Witcher game] at some point. But please consider us as rational people, we sometimes have weird ideas but overall our thinking is very rational. We have full rights to The Witcher games. They are ours. We have invested enormous funds into promoting it, and it’s a very strong brand.”
Iwinski went on to say at the time that The Witcher series “deserves some rest”, or at least the team needs a change. “For the past ten years, the team has been working on swords and castles and medieval Slavic monsters. So I think it’s time for some guns, androids, and some ammo.”
So basically, TL;DR it seems like, no, the game won’t be called The Witcher 4.
Unreal Engine 5
Witcher 4 runs on Unreal Engine 5
The Witcher 4 will run on Epic’s Unreal Engine 5, rather than CD Projekt Red’s own REDengine, which was used for The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 among other titles.
“This is an exciting moment as we’re moving from REDengine to Unreal Engine 5, beginning a multi-year strategic partnership with Epic Games. It covers not only licensing but technical development of Unreal Engine 5, as well as potential future versions of Unreal Engine, where relevant. We’ll closely collaborate with Epic Games’ developers with the primary goal being to help tailor the engine for open-world experiences.”
“It was the shift towards open-world support that brought Unreal Engine 5 to our attention,” said Studio CTO, Paweł Zawodny.
Jakub Knapik, CDPR art director of VGX and lighting, described the new engine as “a toolbox which has a lot of features, a lot of solutions already there that allow teams to just try new stuff.”
“The fact that Unreal is used by a lot of teams already in the world, a lot of perspectives are projected into the design of the tools, and that helps a tool to be way more agile,” Knapik added. “All in all it’s a really, really cool technology to prototype and make environments really quickly, really beautiful, and very realistic.”
However, despite the Epic partnership, CD Projekt Red has clarified that it will not be an Epic Store exclusive for PC players.
The Witcher 4 is one of many confirmed new Unreal Engine 5 gameswhich you can read all about here.
Witcher 4 teaser image is a School of the Lynx Medallion
The only concrete detail we have for The Witcher 4 so far is the teaser image used to confirm its existance. In it, a cat-like medallion was featured, half embedded in the snow. That’s quite different from Geralt’s wolf medallion, which lines up with CD Projekt Red’s affirmation that this is a “new saga for the franchise”.
Since the image dropped, CD Projekt Red has confirmed on Twitter that the medallion belongs to the School of the Lynx. This was backed up by CD Projekt Red’s global communication director Robert Malinowski, who said that “some mysteries should not be so mysterious. I can confirm that the medallion is, in fact, shaped after a lynx.”
What’s interesting about that is that the School of the Lynx is largely rooted in footnotes and fan-fiction than in official Witcher canon, so there’s plenty of room for a brand new arc here.
Witcher 4 Story
If indeed The Witcher 4 story is going to revolve around the School of the Lynx, it’s seemingly going to connect to a piece of fanfic. While Ciri’s always been associated with the School of the Cat, there’s Geralt’s School of the Wolf, and elsewhere in the books and games, Schools of the Manitcore, Bear, Griffin, Crane, and Viper. But, not the Lynx.
Where the Lynx does appear though is in fanfic, posted to an unofficial Witcher Wiki (opens in new tab). What the writer posits is that sorceress Keira Metz and witcher Lambert, set up the School of the Lynx after the events of the Battle of Kaer Morhen. They turn the caravan of the Cat School into the new School of the Lynx, and a new Witcher training school.
However, it’s tied to two characters that can die in The Witcher 3, so it’s an interesting thread.
What our own Ali Jones theorizes is that Ciri starts her own Witcher school under the Lynx, which marries the Wolf of Geralt and her own Cat quite perfectly. After all, the lynx is a wildcat often found with grey fur and living in colder climes.
The Witcher 3 ending
***Warning, major spoilers for The Witcher 3 lie ahead***
If you play The Witcher 3 through to conclusion then you’ll know that it does round off the series in quite a closed manner. The base game has over 40 different ending variations, but whatever happens it’s very much the end of Geralt’s story.
Whether you get one of the good endings or the bad one where Ciri snuffs it, Geralt’s story sees him riding off into the sunset, either destined to roam the land as a Witcher until his last days, retiring to Kovir with Triss or going off with Yennefer to a place away from the politics and the noise.
“I think good stories must have an ending,” said Jakub Szamałek, Senior Writer, in an interview back in 2015 with IGN (opens in new tab). “You cannot extend them indefinitely, and we felt that Geralt has had such an amazing adventure, and his saga is already so long and complex that this seemed like a good point to think about an appropriate finale for the story.”
Whatever ending you get Geralt is facing the rest of his days in retirement. In The Witcher 3, he’s already an older man, so there’s no way he could be the face of a potential Witcher 4. He’s just not got the stamina. And of course, the same can be said for Ciri, mostly because if you lose her at the end of The Witcher 3, it’s not going to make much sense continuity wise for those gamers to have her as the protagonist for the next game.
That’s something that the developers have backed up too. Speaking to Polygon (opens in new tab) during a tech demo back in 2013, executive producer John Mamais said that The Witcher 3 was Geralt’s last story, but that wouldn’t stop him from a cameo or two in the future.
“We are not killing the world and walking away from it, but we will definitely want to make this game the finale in a big way,” said Mamias. “We might even include Geralt in later games potentially. We just need to talk about it and figure out what we’re going to do next.”
Of course, the series has plenty of side characters, NPCs and other faces that could take up the mantle of Witcher hero, but it seems like there’s no clear direction for the next game to go in from the ending of The Witcher 3 and its expansions.
What we’re saying
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want The Witcher 4 to exist one day. Like millions of others out there, I think it’s a masterpiece of gaming that absolutely deserves a sequel. However, having played The Witcher 3 and its expansions, I can see that there is an end to the series – at least in its current form.
If we were to see The Witcher 4 land on our PC or consoles in the next few years/decade, there’s definitely scope to have a fresh face lead us there. No doubt we’ll be playing as another Witcher, although it could be that part of The Witcher 4 is having to go through the Trial of the Grasses, the incredibly painful test that young apprentices have to survive through in order to become a Witcher. It’s how they get their signature cat-like eyes, and other enhanced skills.
It would certainly be a lot of new ground to cover, especially seeing that new Witcher trying to carve a name for themselves in those early years – particularly in the shadow of Geralt and Ciri.
Who would you like to see as the face of The Witcher 4? Let us know on Twitter @GamesRadar.