The Witcher 4: what we know about the start of a new trilogy

The Witcher 4—A snow-covered amulet for an unknown Witcher school. Shaped like a lynx, perhaps?
(Image credit: CD Projekt)

Another year down, another year closer to The Witcher 4. We've gotten an officially confirmation that a new series of Witcher games is on the way. Not entirely surprising—when The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of the greatest RPGs of all time, an eventual sequel makes sense.

Called Project Polaris internally, we've been told that the next Witcher games will be what we've come to expect: "a story-driven open-world RPG built on the legacy of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt", which hopefully makes the Lambert and Keira school rumours ring true. The next game will kick off a new Witcher trilogy, with all three being delivered within a six-year period. And frankly, we're more than ready to bring out the silver swords again.

With the Witcher 4 only entering pre-production in mid-2022, the next Witcher saga is still in the distant future, and we've got next to no concrete details about the game just yet. But we've got plenty to speculate about. With that in mind, let's take a look at everything we know about the next Witcher game.

The Witcher 4 release date

(Image credit: CD Projekt RED)

Is there a Witcher 4 release date?

There isn't a release date, or even release year, for The Witcher 4 yet. There probably won't be for quite some time, as the game is in the earliest phases of development. The new entry's production was only confirmed in March 2022, with an announcement that its development had entered pre-production following in May 2022.

Surprisingly, CDPR stated during an end-of-2022 financial call that the first game in the new Witcher saga would be releasing before the remake of the first Witcher game. This is probably an indication that both games are a ways away in the future, but still: It's nice to know the relative release timing of a new Witcher experience, even if we don't know its actual date.

What we do know is that after Cyberpunk 2077's launch, CDPR said it wouldn't be showing trailers and demos for future games until much closer to launch. We may wind up seeing teasers or other information about The Witcher 4, but once in-game videos start showing up we should be able to assume it's pretty near—unlike Cyberpunk 2077, whose first gameplay reveal was more than two years before its eventual release date.

Will The Witcher 4 be an Epic Games Store exclusive?

Nope, or at least CDPR says that it is "not planning on making the game exclusive to one storefront."

That seems like a really odd thing for the studio to clarify, but when it first announced The Witcher 4, CDPR also announced that the new Witcher game would be made with Unreal Engine 5 instead of the studio's propriety REDengine that it's used since The Witcher 2. 

CD Projekt does also own the GOG storefront, so it would be very odd if The Witcher 4 weren't available there. If what you're really asking is whether or not it will be sold on Steam, that's a question that CDPR hasn't explicitly answered.

The Witcher 4 story and characters

A Witcher medallion with glowing red eyes is partially covered in snow. (Image credit: CD Projekt)

The Witcher 4 is the start of a new trilogy

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The Witcher 3 - Geralt artwork

(Image credit: CD PRojekt RED)

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During a CD Projekt Red financial earnings call in September 2022, CEO Adam Kiciński indicated that the next Witcher sequel could be the first in a new trilogy of Witcher games. "We said that there will be a new saga. We have in mind more than one," Kiciński said. "The first saga was three games, so now we are thinking about more than one game."

Kiciński went on to describe the potential new series as "the second Witcher saga," leaving a pretty firm impression that CD Projekt is still in for the long haul on the Witcher. What the structure of that new saga will look like, and whether it'll be based on any earlier Witcher works or something more original, remains to be seen.

We know a trilogy in the works alongside Project Sirius and Project Canis Majoris, two standalone Witcher projects. 

Where will The Witcher 4 be set?

While we won't know the setting of the next Witcher game until there's an official reveal, we have plenty of space to speculate. As a jumping-off point for our baseless conjecture, let's consider a statement from Philipp Weber, the narrative lead on Witcher 4. In a December 2022 interview with GamesRadar, Weber gave a diplomatic non-answer to the question of the game's setting, saying he "would always like to return to Temeria and Vizima, and see how it looks like right now."

The most responsible way to interpret Weber's answer would be as a nod toward the upcoming Witcher 1 remake. But if you'd rather read too deeply between the lines, you might wonder: if Weber would like to return to Temeria, maybe he's been working elsewhere—maybe somewhere we've never seen.

All the Witcher games up until now have been set in sections of the Northern Realms: Temeria, Redania, Skellige, and the like. But given that the first teaser image for the game shows an amulet for an unfamiliar Witcher school, it could be set somewhere in the swaths of the Northern Kingdoms we haven't seen properly in-game. Maybe we'll explore Aedirn, or Cintra, or Kovir and Poviss—maybe Rivia, the city that Geralt adopted as his namesake.

Or maybe the new Witcher saga will take us outside the Northern Kingdoms entirely, into Nilfgaard or elsewhere. We'll have to wait for official word to know how far afield we'll be from where Geralt's already adventured.

Will there be a Lynx School of witchers in The Witcher 4?

So far, the initial teaser image for the next Witcher game is the biggest hint we have to work with. It's a witcher medallion, like the pendant from the Wolf School of witchers that Geralt wears, but this one is of a lynx. 

Initially, we were hesitant about Lynx School speculation. It hasn't appeared in any Witcher game, novel, or television production so far. The only lynx school lore out in the wild at the moment is unofficial, written by fans on the Witcher Fanon Wiki.

One small official reference to a Lynx is the item codes for the Cat School gear in The Witcher 3. To spawn in different Cat school weapons and armor pieces, you'll use item codes named "Lynx", like how the Ursine gear is referred to in item codes as "Bear".

After the teaser image was revealed, CDPR's community manager Marcin Momot responded to all the speculation with an emphatic nod, later confirming to PC Gamer by email that he wasn't just being cheeky. "I can confirm that the medallion is, in fact, shaped after a lynx," he said.

So, that certainly seems like Lynx School confirmed! We just don't yet know anything about the origins of this order of witchers, who its members are, or whether they're related to the Cat School.

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

Will Ciri be in The Witcher 4?

There's certainly a chance. Based on which Witcher 3 ending you chose, there are definite possibilities to continue Ciri's story. In what's considered the best ending for the game, Ciri and Geralt spend time together on the witcher path after Geralt gifts her a silver sword of her own.

In other Ciri story evidence, CD Projekt Red talked with PC Gamer back in 2019 about adapting her character from the books. As for parts of her story that didn't make it into The Witcher 3, they said "Maybe it’s something we’ll get to revisit in the future."

Since before the release of The Witcher 3, CDPR has been open about the fact that Geralt wouldn’t return as the protagonist of whatever comes next in the series. "With the third installment, we should wrap it up and conclude a lot of threads," CDPR's CEO Marcin Iwiński told Polygon in 2013. "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."

In the same interview, executive producer John Mamais hinted that Geralt could return with a smaller role or as a cameo. "We might even include Geralt in later games potentially," Mamais said. "We just need to talk about it and figure out what we're going to do next." Geralt is a very flexible character. His long lifetime (he's over 90 in The Witcher 3) means that he could pop up in stories told long before or after the events of CDPR’s trilogy.

It probably won’t be called The Witcher 4

Whatever form the next big Witcher game takes, it probably won’t have a 4 on it. CDPR co-founder Marcin Iwinski has made it clear that the studio sees the first three games as a standalone trilogy. "The Witcher was designed as a trilogy and a trilogy cannot have a fourth part, can it?" he said in a 2017 investor call.

The clarification might sound trivial, but it’s more about setting the right expectations for what comes next. Not only will a theoretical next Witcher not star Geralt, but it might be different in more fundamental ways than we’re assuming. It could take place on a different continent, be in a very different time, or maybe not even be about a witcher. The game could step away from witchers themselves and explore sorceresses or vampires. It’s a rich world to draw inspiration from. I’m partial to the diverse, wandering lifestyle of Witchers, but I’m also open to something different.

The Witcher 4 development

Geralt and a mage stand in front of a ruined castle

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

The Witcher 4 has entered pre-production

In a first quarter summary video for 2022, CD Projekt chief financial officer Piotr Nielubowicz confirmed that development on The Witcher 4 has officially entered its pre-production phase.

"We have recently wrapped up the research phase, which means the project has now progressed to pre-production," Nielubowicz said. What constitutes research for a Witcher game? Presumably lots of looking at animals to decide which would make the coolest Witcher school mascot.

The animation lead from Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk is directing the new Witcher saga

The former head of animation and animation director for The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077, Sebastian Kalemba announced on Twitter that he'll be shifting leadership roles to work on the new Witcher games as Game Director.

While titles aren't exactly intuitive in game development, Kalemba's new title as Game Director indicates a responsibility for coordinating the overall production of the new series.

The Witcher 4 is being made with Unreal Engine 5

Alongside confirmation of The Witcher 4's development, CDPR also explained that it had partnered with Epic Games to use its development engine for the next game.

"It is vital for CD Projekt Red to have the technical direction of our next game decided from the earliest possible phase as in the past, we spent a lot of resources and energy to evolve and adapt REDengine with every subsequent game release," CD Projekt Red CTO Paweł Zawodny said.

Later, game director Jason Slama explained that a major factor in the decision was Unreal 5's open-world capabilities. Instead of continuing to adapt REDengine for the purpose, CDPR will be leaning on what Unreal 5 can already do.

"Players can go in whatever direction they want, they can handle content in any order that they want, theoretically," Slama said. "To really encapsulate that, you need a really stable environment where you can be able to make changes with a high level of confidence that it's not going to break in 1,600 other places down the line."

CDPR acquired Molasses Flood to work on something

In October 2021 we got news of CD Projekt acquiring studio Molasses Flood (responsible for Flame in the Flood) to work "in close cooperation" with developer CD Projekt Red on an "ambitious project" based on one of CDPR's existing properties. CDPR also confirmed that Molasses Flood won't be working on Cyberpunk 2077, and since there are only two choices with CDPR, that leaves The Witcher.

CDPR has confirmed what Molasses is working on Project Sirius, and is creating "an innovative take on The Witcher universe". Nice!

CD Projekt signed a new deal with Witcher creator Andrzej Sapkowski in 2019

CD Projekt famously got the rights to make Witcher games for a flat up-front fee, which novelist Andrzej Sapkowski wasn't thrilled about after the games became enormously popular. Since 2018 the two parties have been negotiating a new deal, and in December 2019 they finally reached it. The new agreement "solidifies and reinforces the company’s relationship with Mr. Andrzej Sapkowski—author of The Witcher saga."

The most interesting quote, however, is this one: "The agreement confers new rights upon the Company and reaffirms its existing title to 'The Witcher' intellectual property in developing video games, graphic novels, board games and merchandise."

That doesn't spell out that new videogames are on the way, but it's a sure sign that CD Projekt has a long-term interest in The Witcher.

Lambert, Lambert...

What a prick (for creating a new Witcher school and not telling us about it).

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.

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