Can The Witcher 3 have a huge, open world and good characters?
In a recent video on Game Informer, The Witcher 3's game director gave the statement "Skyrim -- it was generic." He went on to explain how characters should react to what you are doing for a game to be truly immersive. He said he tried to think of five good characters from Skyrim and that he couldn't. Those are some bold swings at the current king of role-playing games.
While Skyrim is awesome, what Konrad Tomaszkiewicz said about the lack of characters is pretty accurate. This is a game about the world and the characters are just bland actors inhabiting said world.
When The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt was revealed, there was a lot of statements being made on how it would be bigger and better with an open world to explore. While this may sound great, it might just be an attempt to capture some of the market that loves games such as Skyrim.
Creating a massive open-world title can be a very difficult thing to do. Bethesda has been at the Elder Scrolls series for almost twenty years now. Even after all of this time, they are still rather buggy and lacking in story. The reason people overlook the bugs and lack of decent characters and plot in a game like Skyrim is because of how massive the world is. You can go anywhere and do anything, and there's hundreds of hours of gameplay to be had.
The Witcher series has always been very focused on the story and the characters involved. CD Projekt RED does an excellent job of creating characters and a story, and it feels like you are actually Geralt hanging out in a tavern with Dandelion and friends.
I don't want to get my peanuts mixed up in my chocolate. The Witcher is about characters and Skyrim is about the world. Sure, it would be terrific to have a game that can be both, but it's easier said than done to incorporate a deep story into an open world on the scale that's being talked about. If you're going to have a game that focuses on story, it's much easier to create small slices of an area then to create the entire area. I think it's going to be a technical miracle for a developer to make a game as big as Skyrim with the depth of The Witcher. It's not impossible, but I don't think we're quite there yet.