Five years ago today, Polish developer CD Projekt Red released The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. While acting as an end to a trilogy the studio began nearly a decade prior, The Witcher 3 is the most successful and influential game CD Projekt Red has produced to date.
Its approach to open-world gameplay and storytelling dazzled fans and critics alike. Back in 2015, critic Kevin van Ord awarded the game a 10/10 in our Witcher 3: Wild Hunt review, saying, “This is one of the best role-playing games ever crafted, a titan among giants and the standard-setter for all such games going forward.”
It was more than just the game though, and also a lot about CD Projekt Red and their approach to a market being saturated with microtransactions. In a retrospective on The Witcher 3 by GameSpot’s Jake Dekker, he explains how the studio’s dislike of monetizing aspects of gameplay and producing large, polished expansions still stand out as novel today.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt received two expansions that followed through on this philosophy. The first, Hearts of Stone, reintroduced players to characters from the first entry in the series, while the larger Blood and Wine is widely considered one of the best pieces of The Witcher 3.
As the game continued to sell well, reaching over 20 million units sold in 2019, so did the influence of the brand. So much so that Netflix greenlit an adaptation of the books that inspired the games, with The Witcher launching on the streaming service in December 2019. While it did have some issues, it introduced even more people to Geralt of Rivia, portrayed by Henry Cavill in the series.
It’s yet to be seen how CD Projekt Red will use the lessons it learnt with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in craft its latest RPG, Cyberpunk 2077. It’s scheduled for launch on September 17 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC, after being first announced all the way back in 2013.
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