With The Witcher Season 3 in full flow on Netflix, it's making us want The Witcher 4 all the more. Thankfully, we do know that it is in the works, currently under the codename The Witcher: Polaris.
Regardless of what it is ultimately called, The Witcher 4 will be the "first game" of a multi-game saga, that will be part of a new "AAA RPG trilogy." So technically you have confirmation of the Witcher 4, 5, and 6 there. The developer dropped news of a whole load of upcoming CD Projekt Red games that are in the works / plans last year, so it's been quite the season of discovery.
It has somehow already been almost eight years since the release of one of the best RPGs of all-time, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, so news of a new trilogy is welcomed news around these parts. So keep on reading for everything we know about The Witcher Polaris so far, including details on the other new Witcher games in development, the switch to Unreal Engine 5, and more.
The Witcher 4: Polaris
CDPR released an update on The Witcher 4 on October 4, 2022. As part of the news, it was revealed that the internal codename for the new game is: The Witcher Polaris. CDPR has confirmed that the next installment in the series is in pre-production and that it will be the "beginning of a new saga". Additionally, the studio said: "We aim to release two more Witcher games after Polaris, creating a new AAA RPG trilogy."
We also know that The Witcher Polaris will be released on Unreal Engine 5, rather than CDPR's proprietary RED engine – which was used for The Witcher 2, The Witcher 3, and Cyberpunk 2077. Additionally, back in May, CDPR confirmed that the "research phase" on The Witcher 4 had concluded, with the studio splitting its time between pre-production on this new RPG series and on the Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty expansion.
As reported by IGN, Adam Kiciński noted on an investor call that The Witcher 4: Polaris release date is at least three years away. With the CDPR joint-CEO explaining that "for this project, for sure we need some extra effort to deliver" because of the shift to Unreal Engine 5 and development of new technology.
The Witcher 4 title
Witcher 4 title: Will Polaris 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
What is funny though is that it looks like CD Projekt Red isn't adverse to calling it The Witcher 4. During a recent earnings call, CDPR CEO Adam Kiciński actually called Polaris The Witcher 4 while discussing the implications of the studio's shift to Unreal Engine 5 in partnership with Epic Games.
"We are preparing things on the pipeline side and toolset sides," he begins. "Some developers are still learning the technology, and at the same time, there are teams working together with Epic on those aspects that are needed for our open-world RPGs. For the first project, Polaris, it will, maybe not slow down, but it won't accelerate the process.
"But for the next projects, we assume that it should smoothen the production," he continues. "That was one of the reasons behind saying the strategy that we want to release three big Witcher games within six years, starting from the release of Polaris, which is Witcher 4."
However, CDPR was quick to correct its own CEO, providing us with the following statement:
"This was actually a slip of the tongue. Polaris will be the first game in a new Witcher saga. The saga will consist of three games."
You can't help but laugh, right?
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 Bankier.
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.
The Witcher 4 release date is probably a long way off
In a Q&A withinvestors earlier this year, developer CD Projekt Red has essentially confirmed that we shouldn't expect a Witcher 4 release date before 2025.
In response to a question about the development timeline of the new trilogy, CDPR president Adam Kiciński explained that "for Polaris, we are preparing technologies. This is the first project to be released on the new engine, Unreal 5. There is a need of some extra work making this technology viable for huge, open-world, story-driven games. So for this project, for sure, we need some extra effort to deliver. The second and the third installments should go smoother as technology will be better and the tools and the pipelines will be there, but this is all I can say for now."
A follow-up question asked whether it would be reasonable to assume it's going to take longer than three years to develop The Witcher 4, and Kiciński said "Yes, it is". So, 2025 at least it is then.
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 games, which 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. 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.
Interestingly, In a recent interview, GamesRadar+ asked acting narrative lead Philipp Weber about where he'd like the Witcher 4 story to take place. As you might expect, Weber was keen not to give anything away, "I'm actually working on the new Witcher Saga, so whatever I would tell you now would be very leading."
But he did provide us with "a very diplomatic answer", saying that he would like to return to the northern kingdom of Temeria and its capital Vizima. "I would always like to return to Temeria and Vizima, and see how it looks like right now," Weber explained. "So that's why I'm very happy that we're doing the Witcher one remake."
Witcher 3 ending
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. “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 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.