The Good News/Bad News on ‘The Witcher 4’

It’s been nine whole years since The Witcher 3 came out, but some games are so successful and influential that their presence is still felt even a decade later. The most obvious reason for The Witcher‘s continued cultural presence is Netflix’s TV adaptation, which is already three seasons in. They’ve also clearly tried to make its answer to Game of Thrones, which … feels somewhat unavoidable, I suppose.

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While we know The Witcher season 4 is in the works, there’s an even more pressing question about development in the greater world of The Witcher. Forget Netflix’s The Witcher season 4, where is The Witcher 4, the game?

The good news is that The Witcher 4: Polaris is in production. The bad news is that it might be an incredibly hot minute until we get to play it. And yes, it’s at least partially Cyberpunk 2077‘s fault.

Why the delay for The Witcher 4?

The Witcher 3 was released in May 2015 by developer CD Projekt RED. The Witcher 4: Polaris has only recently entered full-steam production. Which is good news in a sense, but you might be wondering what the hell CD Projekt RED has been doing for nine whole years. Let’s dig in

In the years following The Witcher 3‘s release, there was a steady trickle of Witcher offshoot games. In 2016, the game got a DLC, Wild Hunt, Blood and Wine. In 2017, CD Projekt RED launched beta for a standalone release of GWENTThe Witcher 3‘s infamously addictive game-within-a-game, from which Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth‘s currently viral Queen’s Blood card game certainly takes some influence. There was also a Witcher-based RPG called Thronebreaker that no one remembers.

But mostly, CD Projekt RED had its hands full with a new franchise they were developing, which they officially announced at E3 in 2018: a little game called Cyberpunk 2077. In the coming years, it became very clear that CD Projekt RED’s hands were even too full with Cyberpunk 2077. The game’s launch in 2020 was so notoriously premature and botched, the phrase “pulling a Cyberpunk” is now shorthand parlance among the game industry and game critics to reference studios that rush a production and release a game before it’s ready.

This meant that CD Projekt RED had a lot of catch-up development to do on a game that the higher-ups were planning to get out of the way by 2020. While the 2.0 update of the game which release alongside the Phantom Liberty DLC in 2023 finally turned Cyberpunk into the stunning game it always was meant to be, the whole saga has certainly affected the release of The Witcher 4.

Is The Witcher 4 currently in production?

The higher-ups of developer CD Projekt had unrealistic expectations for Cyberpunk 2077‘s development cycle, which presumably meant that the studio’s resources were not allocated as originally planned—because, fortunately, CD Projekt RED was determined to make Cyberpunk right. While Cyberpunk was released in 2020, it wasn’t actually finished until 2023, with the 2.0 patch. This debacle surely shoved CD Projekt Red’s entire production schedule back.

According to a report by IGN, it seems that once Cyberpunk 2077‘s 2.0 patch and DLC were released, CD Projekt RED immediately began shifting the bulk of its workforce into The Witcher 4: Polaris. About 50% were on the project by Q3 2023, and that number has recently increased to two-thirds.

This doesn’t mean that work on The Witcher 4 began in 2023. For proof, the same report from IGN shows that a small portion of its developers are working on the concept for the next Cyberpunk game. Surely, there was a small, dedicated task force parsing out the skeleton for The Witcher 4 as the Cyberpunk saga was ongoing. But it seems as if full-scale production couldn’t begin until Cyberpunk was finished. In fact, IGN also points out that CD Projekt RED said on this call that Polaris is in “pre-production.”

So yes, The Witcher 4 exists and is currently being made. But it will likely be years until it’s released—which is frustrating, but also far better than the alternative of a rushed release date. If we’ve learned anything in the last decade, it’s that nobody wants to pull a Cyberpunk.

(Image credit: CD Projekt RED)


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Author
Kirsten Carey
Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.