A major new Witcher game is in development by series developer CD Projekt Red.
“We’re happy to announce that the next instalment in The Witcher series of video games is currently in development,” said the studio in a statement in March 2022, “kicking off a new saga for the franchise.”
Exactly what form this new role-playing “saga” will take, we don’t yet know. The only information released so far comes in the form of a teaser image released alongside the announcement, and word that the new games will run on Unreal Engine 5 rather than the in-house REDengine. But there are questions to answer nonetheless.
WIth that in mind, here’s everything we know – and an exploration of what it may mean – about the new Witcher game, including what we can learn from the new Witcher teasers and an expected release date.
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New Witcher game Lynx School teaser explained, and what we have learned so far
It’s officially a lynx medallion! Days of speculation were brought to an end recently after CD Projekt confirmed to Eurogamer that the medallion in the promotional picture accompanying the new Witcher game announcement was, in fact, a lynx. But what does this mean?
Medallions represent the Witcher School a witcher belongs to, so Geralt wears a medallion resembling a wolf’s head because he belongs to the Wolf School. That’s the most famous school because Geralt is The Witcher, and everything has so far revolved around him. But in the books (and games), there’s also a Cat School and a Griffin School, and CD Projekt Red expanded this in the games to include Viper, Bear and Manticore schools. But nowhere official was there a Lynx School, until now.
There was a Lynx School mentioned somewhere unofficially though, on a Witcher Fandom Wiki. To be clear, this is fan fiction. It’s not legit. Whether it served as inspiration for CD Projekt Red, and whether the studio knew anything about it before creating its own Lynx School, we don’t know. But it’s hard to believe it didn’t see it, seeing as it’s one of the top search results for Witcher Lynx School.
In the fan fiction, the story goes that Geralt’s Wolf School witcher colleague Lambert travelled south after the events of The Witcher 3, at which point the Wolf School, led by Vesemir, was all but destroyed. It was then that Lambert, along with sorceress lover Kiera Metz, fell in with witchers from the Cat school, joined them, and eventually ended up leading and reforming them as the Lynx School, before travelling to a New World kind of continent to face undocumented monsters there. I wonder whether anyone’s fan fiction has ever had such attention paid to it.
I expect CD Projekt Red will disregard all of this and instead create something completely new. It could even be something created in collaboration with Witcher originator and author Andrzej Sapkowski, seeing as the two parties signed a new rights deal – and evidently patched up rather frosty relations – in 2019.
Why is the Lynx School medallion so important? Because it gives us one of the only clues we have so far as to what – or rather who – the game is about. It not being a wolf medallion gives us our clearest indication yet – besides the words “a new saga” – that this game will not revolve around Geralt of Rivia again.
But if not Geralt, then who?
Is this The Witcher 4? Everything else we know – and don’t know – so far about the new Witcher game
CD Projekt has previously said it does not want to call this new game The Witcher 4, despite this being the fourth major Witcher game.
“I already said there will be no Witcher 4,” CD Projekt CEO Adam Kiciński told investors in 2020. “I clearly said that Witcher was a trilogy. Simultaneously, we’ve always emphasised that we want to create Witcher games and the agreement with Mr. Sapkowski confirmed our rights.”
It’s a perception thing. CDPR wants this new saga to stand apart from The Witcher trilogy we’ve had so far, which is another indication that Geralt will not be the main character again. And really, if you think back to Witcher 3 expansion Blood and Wine, the whole thing felt like a swansong for a beloved hero, a retirement story, one last hurrah.
Assuming CD Projekt is still set on not calling it The Witcher 4, then what could it be called? Any use of the moniker The Witcher evokes Geralt, after all, for he is the person all of the books and games are primarily about.
The only other witcher-like character with anything approaching the same level of fame as Geralt is Ciri. She is of pivotal importance to Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher world. She also has the benefit of being well known by the player base and Witcher community, and we played as her sporadically throughout The Witcher 3.
Obviously I don’t know anything for sure, but if you wanted The Witcher 4 with Ciri, that Cat medallion is a pretty exciting sign. She gets it in the books and has it in TW3 pic.twitter.com/QwRt9D4wol
— cian maher (@cianmaher0) March 21, 2022
Using her could fit within the bounds of “a new saga” while linking with the old one, and she wears a Cat School witcher medallion from her belt in The Witcher 3 game. I know it’s not a lynx, but it’s closer than a wolf.
Playing as any other witcher, in a similar timeframe, would feel too close to being Geralt, and would pale in comparison to the series’ undoubted star. This brings us to another important question surrounding the lynx medallion though, of “when?”.
The Lynx School needn’t necessarily have been created after the events of The Witcher 3. It could come from an older time, perhaps even a much older time. What if a new game were to turn the clock backwards in a similar way the Knights of the Old Republic games did for Star Wars once upon a time. That would get them well clear of the existing Witcher trilogy and books (and TV series with it).
There’s precedent for this too: look at what the Witcher prequel series Blood Origin is doing for Netflix. It’s going back some 1200 years to events leading to the fabled Conjunction of the Spheres event, which is when the planets aligned and magic came to The Witcher world, and with it monsters too. The witchers were created as a result of this. What if a new Witcher game went back there, to the start of it all? What if the lynx medallion was among the first ever worn?
The trouble with going to a completely different time is we won’t know any of the characters there (unless they use some of those in the Blood Origin show), so how would you make an audience care as much about a main character as we do about Geralt? I don’t think you can. But what if, instead, you let players create their own witcher, their own hero? We would care about them.
We could play them from childhood to adulthood and experience them going through the notoriously brutal Trial of the Grasses that young witchers are put through in order to mutate their cells and give them the capabilities, such as surviving poisonous potions, they need for a life of monster hunting. It could be called The Witchers, signifying we are all them. That could be a compelling take.
New Witcher development, game engine and store exclusivity
In keeping with the “new saga” motto, this new Witcher game will have a new game director. Taking the helm will be current Gwent game director Jason Slama, who has already publicly taken an anti-crunch stance in relation to managing the development of the new game, which is a relief. “Never on my watch!” he tweeted in reply to a question about it.
I am super thrilled to announce that I have humbly been working to ensure the success of the next big AAA The Witcher game as its Game Director! Think you could join the team? We have tons of roles open with the possibility of remote work we could discuss! https://t.co/bBbxs0JMmq
— Jason Slama (@SlamaTwoFlags) March 21, 2022
His promotion to game director follows the departure of The Witcher 3 game director Konrad Tomaszkiewicz in spring 2021, following an investigation into workplace bullying.
Oh and in case you’re wondering, this new Witcher game appears to be positioned as a single-player game. Multiplayer is yet to come to Cyberpunk 2077, remember. Should it do very well when it eventually does arrive, perhaps that will change. But for now I’d go with what CDP CEO Adam Kiciński told investors in 2020, when he said, “We’ve been working on a next single-player game already, creating a clear concept that waits for further development.”
The March 2022 ‘new Witcher game’ announcement focused as much on technology as the existence of a new game, perhaps even more so. The headline news being that this new Witcher saga will be powered by Unreal Engine 5.
It’s a big move for CD Projekt Red because, until now, the Polish studio has used its internally-built REDengine for almost every game since The Witcher 2 – certainly all of the big ones (the first Witcher game was built on a heavily modified version of BioWare’s Aurora engine). More recently, the studio’s smaller projects like Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales and Gwent were built on Unity. Internal engine development has always been a key part of the studio’s focus.
“This is an exciting moment as we’re moving from REDengine to Unreal Engine 5, beginning a multi-year strategic partnership with Epic Games,” the studio’s announcement read.
“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.”
The hope, I expect, is that using Unreal will lift a lot of technical weight from CD Projekt Red’s shoulders, freeing the studio to focus on making the games instead. But as Digital Foundry explores, there’s a lot to lament about the loss of REDengine. It’s an incredibly accomplished – and often spectacular – engine, and the problems with Cyberpunk 2077 were as much to do with older console hardware as with the engine itself. What’s more, using Unreal Engine 5 isn’t a golden bullet: it will have its own challenges as well.
Another concern that arose from the partnership announcement was whether CD Projekt Red had signed some kind of exclusivity agreement with Epic Games with regards to releasing the new Witcher saga on the Epic Games Store.
CD Projekt Red has officially quashed the notion by saying, “We are not planning on making the game exclusive to one storefront,” but it’s worth pointing out that this does not rule out a potential release on the Epic Games Store and GOG, the PC download shop operated by CD Projekt.
Then again, CDPR likes to present a consumer-first approach, and the idea of restricting a game’s release to certain storefronts goes against this.
Expected new Witcher game release date
The current official line is: “At this point, no further details regarding the game – such as a development timeframe or release date – are available.” And I think you can safely translate that to mean whatever CDPR is making is a long way away. Therefore, we don’t expect the release date of the new Witcher game to be earlier than 2025.
Why? The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 both took longer than anticipated. The Witcher 3 development began in 2011 and was delayed twice before being released in May 2015. The start of Cyberpunk 2077’s development is harder to pin down, it having been in pre-production since around 2012, but the game was delayed three times before being released in December 2020, and it probably should have been delayed again, given the state of the game on older consoles at launch. This took a further six months to really fix, and it would be another several months on top of that until the game was upgraded for next-gen machines.
Given that, it’s very unlikely CD Projekt Red will communicate any kind of date for the new Witcher game until it is rock-solid sure it can hit it. This tallies with what the studio said in the aftermath of Cyberpunk 2077’s release, about keeping marketing campaigns much shorter and closer to the game’s eventual launch.
However, CD Projekt Red has talked openly about being a two-game studio and working on two games at the same time, so I expect pre-production has been slowly ramping up on a new Witcher game since the old one wrapped in 2016 (when Blood and Wine came out). Now that the Cyberpunk 2077 panic-fixes seem to have settled down, perhaps full production can begin. Remember, CDPR is a much bigger studio than it was when The Witcher 3 launched, employing upwards of 800 people across multiple studios.
Note, however, that this announcement probably isn’t the beginning of a marketing campaign for the new Witcher game. It’s as likely to be an industry-focused announcement to attract talent to the studio, particularly those familiar with Unreal Engine 5.
I can’t wait that long! What to look forward to before the new Witcher game arrives
We’re potentially facing a long wait but there’s still plenty of Witcher to be had in the meantime. Netflix is all over it. We’ve had two Witcher series so far and there’s a third one greenlit, presumably to air in a similar pattern to the other series in December next year (2023).
There’s also The Witcher prequel series Blood Origin coming to Netflix, which I’ve already mentioned – the one set 1200 years before the events in the games and books, and which should show us how the witcher order was formed.
Netflix is also making a second Witcher anime to follow the young-Vesemir-focused Nightmare of the Wolf, and a Witcher show for kids, which seems like a paradox, but there you go.
Meanwhile, in the game world, excitement is building around the next-gen upgrade for The Witcher 3 on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S|X and PC (although you can obviously already mod it there), which is expected in the second quarter of 2022.
IMPORTANT PRODUCTION UPDATE pic.twitter.com/KOnaIVOt4v
— CD PROJEKT RED (@CDPROJEKTRED) October 20, 2021
In the meantime, you could try relatively new Witcher mobile game, The Witcher: Monster Slayer, which is a bit like Pokemon Go, now that the weather is improving. Or you could plough through The Witcher 3 again on any number of platforms, including Switch.
And If you’re doing that, be sure to bookmark our Witcher 3 guides hub, where you’ll find walkthroughs, character build guides, and other resources to help you through.ó