This week, CD Projekt Red held an investors call during which six new projects were unveiled. The Witcher 4, now otherwise known as The Witcher Polaris, will be the first in a trilogy. The Witcher Sirius is a new offshoot being worked on by third-party studio, The Molasses Flood. The Witcher Canis Majoris is another external effort, this one being developed by ex-Witcher folks. Cyberpunk 2077 Orion is a fully-fledged sequel to the once-maligned open-world action-roleplayer of 2020. And, slipped in right at the end of the call, Project Hadar is an entirely new game "distinct from The Witcher and Cyberpunk 2077", that's currently in its "conceptual phase". All of this is on top of news about the incoming PS5 and Xbox Series X iterations of The Witcher 3, and the fact Cyberpunk 2077 expansion Phantom Liberty is now in its final stages of production. And breathe.
The show was so jam-packed with announcements, it almost belied its meager 20-minute run-time, whipping newsrooms all over the world into a frenzy and whetting the palates of would-be players far and wide. "How very Marvel of them," was a sentiment shared in the GamesRadar+ office after seeing CD Projekt Red lay its full hand flat on the table – The Witcher trilogy portion of which aims to be concluded within six years of The Witcher 4 being released. Whether that's achievable or not remains to be seen (fans are already voicing concerns), but one thing seems clearer: there appears to be a broader show-all trend emerging from game developers, seemingly keen to roadmap several years of plans and projects in one fell swoop.
Choose your fighter
Marvel is indeed an obvious comparison here with regards to its multi-project MCU reveals in the entertainment sphere. At this year's San Diego Comic Con alone, the entertainment juggernaut announced the end of its Phase 4 with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, while detailing everything to expect in Marvel Phase 5 – a timeline that spans the best part of two years, and includes a combined 12 films and TV shows, one of which is a new 18-episode run of Daredevil. Elsewhere at SDCC 2022, it officially confirmed Marvel Phase 6, dropped umpteen trailers, and shared information on the many animated series being worked on at Marvel Studios. This branching network of in-progress projects has become the norm for Marvel in recent years, and while independent of all of the above, the very fact that we know Insomniac Games is working on Marvel's Spider-Man 2 and Marvel's Wolverine concurrently reflects the same transparent approach to reveals on the side of video games.
If we look at the recent Assassin's Creed Showcase, Ubisoft used this section of its Ubisoft Forward event to unveil a slew of new titles that will fall under the action-adventure series' umbrella. A new DLC for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla named 'The Last Chapter' was revealed, for example, as was the smaller, more focused Assassin’s Creed Mirage. Assassin’s Creed Red will mark the series' first, long-awaited and much-anticipated trip to feudal Japan; while the twisted, pagan-inspired Assassin’s Creed Hexe marks a new direction for the series altogether. The event also showcased Assassin’s Creed Project Jade as an ambitious open-world mobile game; it revealed new details on its Assassin's Creed Infinity platform; and gave us fresh info on the Assassin's Creed Netflix series and a coinciding Netflix game. Again, it was all a lot to take in, but gave fans of the series plenty to chew on and look forward to.
What's the point in revealing everything at once, then, when devs could easily sit on things and tease out their longer-term plans over a much longer timeline? I can't speak on behalf of developers and publishers directly, but with so many games, and so much readily available entertainment content at our fingertips, keeping fans engaged across several prospective titles, each catering to specific interests and intrigues makes perfect sense. In the case of CDPR, there are plenty of fans of The Witcher 3 who might not give a toss about where Cyberpunk 2077 is headed, and vice versa. As someone who's flitted in and out of Assassin's Creed over the years, I'm less inspired by Mirage, but really fancy Feudal Japan and whatever the hell Hexe might turn out to be. And so, having that choice across different tastes really only serves to ramp up hype around the series as a whole.
It's also worth noting that the video games industry today is, for better or worse, intrinsically tied to social media, where the obsession with leak culture and being In The Know persists among many people – the recent GTA 6 leak, of course, underlines the extreme end of that spectrum. We won't get, nor should we want or expect, unreserved transparency with regards to the development process (I firmly believe in the mystique of the process through the player's eyes), but with so many announcements revealed ahead of time against the will of game developers, the idea that devs might throw everything out there at once as a means of sidestepping spoilers isn't beyond the realms of possibility.
The advent of the likes of Nintendo Direct, Sony's State of Play, and Ubisoft Forward over the last decade or so (having first aired in 2011, 2019, and 2020 respectively) shows a gradual tendency towards publisher autonomy, but the likes of E3 and The Game Awards, and to a lesser extend TGS and Gamescom, have continued to feel like the main media events on a rolling annual basis. I'd love to see more developers follow the likes of CD Projekt Red and Ubisoft with their 'Here's Everything' approach, however, because on our end as players, we're ultimately left spoiled for choice.
After the many, well-documented missteps that plagued Cyberpunk 2077's console launch, the long line of fixes and updates rolled out since has allowed CD Projekt Red to claw back a degree of goodwill among players. The promise of so much more content across its beloved Witcher series and Cyberpunk 2077 itself, assuming the studio can satisfy its own ambitious timelines without issue, means we have plenty to look forward to. If, like Assassin's Creed, other series decide to follow suit in the coming months and years, I'm totally all for it.
Can't wait for what's next from CDPR? Check out the best games like The Witcher 3 in the meantime.