What we already know about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt makes it sound really great. If the folks over at CD Projekt Red can pull off this and Cyberpunk 2077, they will seriously be a contender for the best development team.
There are a lot of changes in The Witcher 3 that we can expect. Open world, horses, and boats, oh my! So many potentially great ideas for an already great universe. Not every idea from the past games should be implemented in the finale, though.
Here's what I think should stay, and what should go to make the best Witcher sequel possible.
What should stay the same:
Moral Grey Area
This is what the series is known for. The Witcher was one of the first games that had me sitting in my chair, head down, seriously contemplating which decision to make. This is a series that doesn't force you to choose between black and white but enters that oh-so-terrifying grey area that puts you between a rock and a hard place.
Imagine the possibilities of decision consequences on such a large scale! It could be like when Megaton blew up in Fallout 3, except with way less binary actions leading up to it.
Love of the Lore
The Witcher games are based off of novels by Andrzej Sapkowski, and CD Projekt Red actually does a great job of referencing the source material. Perhaps best of all, reading the books isn't required (though I recommend it) to enjoy the deep lore in the videogames themselves.
Speaking with townsfolk and reading beastiaries are an absolute delight in the Witcher games, and I would expect The Witcher 3 to continue this trend.
Save Game Transfers
Simple, yet never guaranteed. I made some pretty heavy decisions in the past games and would expect them to have at least some influence in the finale. Even if it's something small, a couple lines of dialogue here and there, there should be some sort of benefit to bringing in a save from the past games.
I'm not sure many people realize how moddable the Witcher games actually are. I've only briefly dabbled in mods, like removing the weight limit from the second game, but there are a ton of options out there. Modding is what elevates a PC game over its console counterparts. Making a game moddable on PC is playing to the platform's strengths and it would be silly for CD Projekt Red to stop now.
Though the Sex Cards from the first game are confirmed not to return (damn), the intimate encounters should stay. For one, it wouldn't really fit Geralt's character to suddenly stop being promiscuous. Two, it affirms the already adult theme and never seems out of place or tacky. Third, awww yeah sexy ladies.
This is pretty much guaranteed, but it still needs to be said. CD Projekt Red launched GOG.com and sells their products DRM free through the site. I bought The Witcher 2 from there simply because I knew exactly where my money was going: straight to one of the best developers of this generation.
What needs to change
Include a Tutorial This Time, Okay?
I know they patched a tutorial into The Witcher 2, but it still wasn't all that great. There are undoubtedly going to be many complex systems in The Witcher 3, so how about we introduce them this time.
It doesn't make sense to introduce gameplay elements one at a time as the player progresses, since Geralt should already know all the basics. Like The Witcher 2, having a tutorial that serves as a one-time venture and is separate from the main game makes the most sense. Don't try to introduce the concepts to player as they are fighting, it's distracting, obtrusive, and isn't as effective. Give the player plenty of time in an isolated tutorial to learn the mechanics. This way, they can jump straight into the real game afterwards with no interruptions.
Hey, I don't know if you knew this, but the boss fights in the second game suuuuuuucked. Some were pretty epic in scale, but each one felt like a trial and error test in precognition. I have some bad memories of almost every boss fight in that game.
We do know that there are no scripted boss encounters, but I'm not entirely sure what that means. Maybe throwing away the idea of boss fights for a their monster hunting quests is the best approach to this. In fact, that would be perfect for a game about a witcher. After all, their one job is to hunt monsters.
Less dumb boss fights, more witching, please!
You may not know this, but I am the World Champ of fist fighting and dice poker in The Witcher. The first game had simple yet entertaining minigames that served as an occasional nice distraction from all the death and politics. The second game, however, turned the fist fighting into a controller-inspired QTE battle and even somehow made dice poker boring.
There will be new minigames at each area this time, but I don't think fist fighting and dice should disappear. They were something that unified the world; no matter where I went, people wanted to challenge me to dice poker and fisticuffs, and I loved it.
I also kicked their butts!
The second game's difficulty was stupid. They've "recognized" the backwards difficulty curve, so let's hope they reverse it. Part of this was also thanks to the lack of a tutorial for a bit, so these two work in tandem.
A perfect difficulty curve is incredibly hard to do, and an open world does not make it any easier. I am glad to hear that the enemies will not scale to the player's level, since that's a silly game mechanic in the first place. I can appreciate difficult games, but there is a fine line between difficult and unfair, especially in the early goings of a game.
Ahem, allow me for a moment to complain about what bugged me most about The Witcher 2. Don't make this game for controllers. Make it for a mouse and keyboard and functional with a controller. From the over-the-shoulder perspective to the fighting minigames, it was painfully obvious that The Witcher 2 was made for consoles.
I want the top down perspective back. Even if it isn't a default -- make it an option. Allow me to click to move and even click to attack. I miss the gameplay of The Witcher and other old RPGs and I know I'm not the only one. Be a hero in the genre, CD Projeckt Red, be a hero.