The Witcher 3 will include a Hearthstone-style game-within-a-game called Gwent

Andy Chalk at

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is going to be a very big game, but CD Projekt Red is apparently concerned that hunting monsters, handling politics and trying to unravel the mysteries of the Wild Hunt won't be enough to keep players busy. So on top of everything else, it's added a collectible card game featuring four distinct factions battling for supremacy with an array of soldiers, spells and unique heroes. It sounds familiar, but it's not Hearthstone: It's Gwent.

Gwent, according to The Witcher 3 game lore, was invented by Dwarves and "perfected over centuries of tavern table play." It features more than 150 units, spells and hero cards divided among four different factions—the mighty and cunning Nilfgaardian Empire, the brave Northern Realms and their siege weapons, the agile and devious Scoia’tael, and the brutal monsters of No Man’s Land.

It certainly sounds more interesting than The Witcher 2's dice poker, but CD Projekt Red may have overplayed its hand by announcing that two Gwent card decks, along with a cloth map of the game world, will be included as physical extras in the Xbox One collector's edition of the game. Fan reaction against the Microsoft exclusive led CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwiński to quickly issue a statement addressing the controversy.

"I do understand that these extra items might be desirable for Witcher fans playing the game on other platforms. However, as we are not offering any platform or retail exclusive DLCs or any other form of gameplay differentiation, we do have to find other ways to support our partners," he said, as reported by Eurogamer.

"Why are we doing this? We need the support of partners to make our game visible worldwide. This should hopefully translate to better sales, which will in consequence allow us to do what we have been doing for the last 10 years, i.e. reinvest this money to make more great RPGs, while still sticking to our values," he continued. "If you still consider that adding two decks of Gwent cards and a map of the in-game world to the Xbox One CE equals us betraying our values and not fulfilling our promises, well, it does make us sad, but the final call is always yours to make."

The Witcher 3 Collector's Edition for PC is still a very impressive piece of kit, but the lack of the cards and map is a disappointing omission. Maybe they'll ultimately backtrack and make them available to everyone, but if not, will it have any effect on your decision to go with the big box?

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt comes out in February 2015.