CD Projekt Red confirmed last week that it will be releasing a “Game of the Year” edition of The Witcher 3 in the coming months, a re-release which will likely include all the game’s patches, free DLC, and paid expansions Hearts of Stone and Blood & Wine. As we’ve learned, though, CD Projekt Red has a tendency to go above and beyond, and the prospect of a final, definitive edition of The Witcher 3 got our imaginations going.
With The Witcher and The Witcher 2, CD Projekt released ‘Enhanced Editions’ that fixed bugs, reworked animations and character models, added cinematics—they were huge updates. The Witcher 3 has been getting that kind of treatment with patches and DLC since day one, so we don't expect any major surprises. But our biggest Witcher fans still have some outstanding wishes for The Witcher 3’s last ride.
Rework the skill system
Witcher 3’s skill trees are full of interesting abilities that augment melee combat, potions, and signs...but by the end of the game, you probably haven’t gotten to use that many of them. It simply requires too much investment in a skill path to get to the high-level skills if you want to diversify at all. I appreciate when games don’t give you every single ability, requiring some choice in how you specialize, but I felt like The Witcher 3 went too far in that regard, and I never felt like I was making interesting choices in how I leveled up Geralt. Another problem: the limited number of slots you have to use at any one time discourages experimentation, since it can feel wasteful to put points into abilities you won’t use constantly. I would’ve enjoyed trying out bombs more often in specific combat encounters when they felt especially useful, but I didn’t want to invest points in them when my signs and melee skills were always there and always reliable.
I’m not a game designer, so I can’t suggest the perfect solution, but more flexibility here would be welcome. A bigger change would be adding more actual abilities into the skill system: things that significantly change Geralt’s skillset. For an Enhanced Edition, this would probably be relegated to combat—giving him new abilities that affected conversation and Witcher sense, while awesome, would probably require too much work. But even in combat, a new skill system could be so much fun. Imagine Geralt unlocking sword combos based on skills, or gaining new ways to combine signs and swords similar to the way Batman gears up in the Arkham games. The Blood & Wine expansion plays a bit with this idea with its high-level mutations, but I'd welcome that creativity spread across the entire base game.
At the minimum, just letting Geralt equip a wider set of skills at once would make for a more satisfying sense of progression through the skill tree. There are a few paths CD Projekt Red could go down to make The Witcher 3’s combat and experience curve more satisfying, and that would be enough to send me on another 60 hour playthrough. — Wes Fenlon
I love Roach. She doesn’t seem to have much personality, but the trusty steed can be relied upon to materialise out of thin air whenever a quest marker sits too far away. Roach isn’t perfect though: she makes sightseeing in the Northern Realms a little harder than it should be. Her inbuilt GPS has a habit of taking the wrong fork in the road, sometimes veering off on unwanted detours through drowner infested land. Whenever you want her to take the left road, she’ll usually take the right, and while it’s probably really hard to fix that, I want it fixed anyway! Somehow. I want a horse that can read my mind, or at least favour major roads over less traveled ones. — Shaun Prescott
Add a first-person mode
Look, I can accept that this is a huge ask, but if Rockstar can make GTA 5’s third-person shooting work in a first-person setting, I have faith that CD Projekt Red could make its third-person combat work in The Witcher 3. Even if that proves impossible—and the more I think about it, the more Geralt’s dance-like, barrel rolling combat style seems completely unsuited to first-person—it’s be great to just explore in first-person. As much as I love seeing the back of Geralt’s head while I explore the Northern Realms, I’d very much like to see one of those perfect Oxenfurt sunsets without the Butcher of Blaviken’s silhouette in the way. Perhaps the game could switch between third- and first-person view (optional, of course) depending on the setting? In any case, I’d love to get a little bit closer to Velen and Skellige, and this feels like the best way to do it. — Shaun Prescott
Add a hardcore survival mode
Having played The Witcher 3 in its entirety, completing every expansion, and nearly every quest, I can’t help but feel like the open world setting is a tad underutilized. The dynamic weather, day and night cycles, and realistic portrayal of its varied geography are all harmless set pieces. Through playing the witcher quests, you get the sense that the world is harsh and unrelenting—it must be, there’s an upturned cart peppered with caracasses every other mile. But the environment itself is rarely a threat. It’s just a massive space with the occasional mob roadblock.
A hardcore survival mode where Geralt can’t fast travel and has to hunt, make camp, and dress for the weather may not be ideal for first timers, but for those looking to squeeze more fun out of the open world, it could make for a more dramatic, impromptu experience. So often, the open world is just a means to an end. It’s beautiful, detailed set-dressing that works as a massive stage, but it’s also the perfect test bed for experimental emergent systems. I like the idea of having to prepare for a trek up one of Skillege’s mountains, packing warm dress and a tent, slowly making my way while fending off the occasional pack of wolves or troll, hunting for rabbits to keep my stamina up, and (hopefully) making good enough time to beat an incoming blizzard. Make Geralt earn those scars.
It wouldn’t be a mode for everyone. The danger of The Witcher’s environment is baked into the writing already, but some players also want to live it and roleplay for real. — James Davenport
Bulk up the ModKit tools
Shortly after the release of The Witcher 3, CD Projekt released mod tools for the game. That's more than most developers offer—if a game is even moddable, it's usually up to the community to break it apart and figure out how it works with little or no support. But compared to CD Projekt's offering for The Witcher 2, Witcher 3's modding tools were limited.
Witcher 2's REDKit toolset allowed modders to dig into the engine and create their own new environments. It was powerful. Witcher 3's ModKit is unfortunately not so comprehensive, and we haven't seen any big mods for The Witcher 3 come out of it over the past year. If modders are dedicated enough, they'll carry on anyway. Maybe we'll even see whole community-made expansions someday. But expanded tools would be a great way for CD Projekt to say goodbye to The Witcher 3 and hand its legacy over to the fans.
Give modders the proper tools, and they'll keep the game alive for a decade to come. — Wes Fenlon