2007's The Witcher was a pleasant surprise for all fans of traditional "Western" role-playing games because it was a great game in its own right, but also because it went in many new directions not previously seen in such games. The original game was based on the fantasy fiction of author Andrzej Sapkowski, whose novels star the Witcher--a cynical monster-hunter with supernatural powers making his way in a dark fantasy world where brutality and bigotry are common. Recently, a preproduction video for The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings somehow made its way onto the Internet, prompting a lot of speculation about the sequel. Though it's still a bit too early to go in-depth, CD Projekt's project lead Adam Badowski did give us some information about what we can expect.
GameSpot: Details of the sequel to The Witcher have finally started popping up here and there. What kind of general overview of the game can you give us?
Adam Badowski: The Witcher 2 is the sequel to our first game, The Witcher, which won lots of awards and sold more than 1.3 million copies on the PC. The leaked video, which wasn't intended for public viewing, caused a lot of confusion and generated misinformation based largely on speculation within the gaming community. The reason for speculation was very simple--the movie mostly presented the improvements we've made in [certain] aspects of the game without providing a general overview. It didn't really convey what The Witcher 2 is at its heart, which is an RPG with a strong focus on an intriguing and expanded story. It's important that we make this as clear as possible because, in our opinion, that will be one of the game's strongest points.
GS: CD Projekt RED seems to believe very strongly in improving its game products. For instance, the Enhanced Edition of the original game added numerous improvements to the base game. What are some additional areas that you're looking to improve in the upcoming sequel?
AB:We believe that we can always improve our products, bringing them closer to the best we can achieve. Even though we have released improvements like the Enhanced Edition, we will still be aiming to make The Witcher 2 as good as possible at release. That's why we've decided to use completely new technology and to redesign many of the game's features.
We cannot talk about many of the new features yet because it's still much too early, but I can say that the new technology will really stand out. We've built a brand new engine for The Witcher 2, with lots of amazing new visual effects--improved day and night cycles, a new dynamic camera, and much more--to present even more impressive graphics. We are also improving a number of gameplay elements, making combat even more exciting and helping players become even more immersed in the gameworld.
GS: What can you tell us about the story in The Witcher 2? Will Geralt still be the main character throughout the entire game or will there be other new characters taking the lead as well?
AB: Geralt will certainly be in the game, as we've all seen. I must admit we plan to build the story of The Witcher 2 around Geralt, but it's too early to reveal any more details.
GS: There were some very interesting and very adult story themes in the original game--betrayal, sexuality, and bigotry. Will these themes be expanded in the sequel? What other themes with the sequel explore?
AB: We want The Witcher 2 to be even more mature, so we'll be placing a lot of focus on the design of the story. Gamers will face a very real and brutal world. The way in which we explore sexuality will be greatly improved, and we'll be putting a lot of work into showing the erotic dimension of life in a more natural way, rather than as a sort of minigame. We'll be using cinematic means to flesh out characters, who will differ from each other as they would in real life. These differences will come through in their behavior, their attitude toward Geralt, and how they react to the world.
Once again, the game won't offer any choices between good and evil. Rather, it will force you to decide what is important to you and whom can you trust. Many times you'll be left with real doubts about the choices you've made because the consequences of your decisions will be unpredictable.
GS: Many fans enjoyed the unusual three-style combat system from The Witcher. Will this system return in the sequel? What changes and improvements will be added?
AB:We're perfectly aware of all the strengths and weaknesses of the combat system we created for [the first game]. Our goal is to eliminate all the glitches and to develop solutions that will make combat more dynamic and bloody, extending players' control over Geralt's moves in battle.
GS: We recall that in the original game, alchemy was a significant part of gameplay and Geralt could craft powerful potions, but failed potion brews could actually poison him. Will alchemy return in The Witcher 2? How will it be different and better?
AB: Our approach to alchemy will be very similar to what we aim to do with the combat system. We're intent on improving and redesigning any features that players found less "usable." In general, usability will be our main concern as we develop the alchemy system for The Witcher 2.
GS: The original Witcher was built on BioWare's Aurora engine, and you mentioned that you will not be returning to this technology for the sequel. Can you elaborate on the tech that will power The Witcher 2?
AB: The Witcher 2 will not be built on the Aurora engine. We've developed our own cutting-edge technology, designed and created specifically for RPGs. We decided to do that because we wanted to implement all our ideas without facing all the obstacles we might encounter if we built the game on an existing technology. The leaked movie merely shows some of the improvements we'll be introducing, but there'll be many more in the future. Remember, the video is six months old! The comments we've received from fans are very positive, but we still have so much to surprise you with!
GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about The Witcher 2?
AB:Given the enormous amount of feedback we got from fans and the media after the leak, we realized just how big the expectations are and how many people have been waiting for this game to be announced. We're going through and summarizing all the comments that have been posted about the video on various Web sites, and we'll be comparing them against all the ideas we have for the game. As always, we're taking our fans' opinions to heart, and I can say we already know some of them will affect the game's development. I can assure everyone that we'll be putting every effort into making this game a truly outstanding RPG experience. People can keep up on game announcements at our official Web site.
I'd like to add one more important thing: We are planning to release The Witcher 2 for consoles; however, more detailed information will become available after the game is officially announced.
GS: Interesting. Thanks, Adam.