In June of 2011, I had the pleasure of submitting my review of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. The game made an impression on me. My opening statement of the review holds up even after a second play through. Here’s what I said:
“I won’t even attempt to beat around the bush on this one. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is everything I’ve wanted an RPG to be. The game isn’t perfect, but it’s the best I’ve played in the genre. It’s definitely not for children and it will test your patience from the very start.”
The game is truly something to behold, and it was my favorite game of 2011 (it made our 50 must-play games of 2011 list, too!). That says a lot considering the blockbuster titles that came out last fall. The sad part about loving this game so much was that I had few friends to discuss the game with. It was a PC exclusive. Most of my friends are console jockeys. I know they’d love The Witcher if they just had a chance to play it. That’s why I couldn’t have been more excited when I heard it was being ported to the Xbox 360.
The developers, CD Projekt RED, released a new trailer to celebrate the game coming to a different platform. The video was an instant hit. We received an offer to interview one of the lead developers on The Witcher 2, as well as the director for the trailer. Needless to say, we jumped at the chance.
Take a look at the stunning work done by Platige Image, then continue on for the full interview.
CraveOnline: Before we really get down to brass tacks, can you guys introduce yourselves and explain your role in making The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition?
Adam Badowski: Hi, I’m Adam Badowski, head of CD Projekt RED studio.
Tomasz Baginski: And I’m Tomasz Baginski, from Platige Image. I directed the CG Intro for the Xbox version of the game.
Not too long ago, you guys released a CGI introduction video for the Xbox 360 version of The Witcher 2 that’s planned for release this April. It’s quite a mesmerizing piece, to say the least. What made you decide to focus the trailer on Letho, one of the game’s lead antagonists, rather than Geralt, the main character from the series?
Badowski: We wanted to show gamers the mysterious character of the Kingslayer to make them more intrigued and start asking questions. Who is that badass? Who can stop him? We wanted to define Geralt by his main adversary, to see what he’s up against. The Kingslayer is a powerful destructive force, so imagine what kind of hero you have to be to stand against him….
But don’t worry. Players who don’t know Geralt will receive a special treat from us, coming soon. But you have to wait for it.
What do you hope viewers who haven’t played The Witcher 2 take away from the video in terms of how the game plays or the story it tells?
Badowski: It’s hard to show the complexity of The Witcher’s universe in a single intro. You see the world is beautiful and brutal at the same time. But there’s more to it. The main character of the intro is the Kingslayer, brutal, yet cunning and clever. Then you have the king – a drunk coward, who finds time to finish his wine after his whole crew is frozen. If you see that moment (watch the intro again and look closely at the king in 1:58-2:00) when the king does that maybe you will start to think – was he a good monarch? The mage despises his sovereign’s “entertainment,” maybe it’s good that King Demavend gets killed. In a way you may envy the Kingslayer’s skills. You know that he is the antagonist, but we all carry a little evil inside. Or maybe killing the king is just lesser evil? This is how The Witcher works. There is no black and white. There is only moral greyness.
Thomasz, is this your first time working with CD Projekt RED and The Witcher? Have you played any of the games, read any of the books, or seen any of the films associated with this franchise?
Baginski: I've directed five films for The Witcher games. Andrzej Sapkowski's saga about Witchers’ adventures is very famous in Poland. It was written some years before the game was created. I read the short stories with Witcher's adventures long before the game was made.
How long and how many people did it take to make this trailer?
Baginski: The main production took 8 months. We had approximately 40 people working on The Witcher intro all together. Of course they didn't work all that time. At each stage of production we had a team of around 10 artists.
Outside the new introduction cinematic, what can gamers who pick up the Xbox 360 version of The Witcher 2 expect from the experience? Is it everything the PC crowd got last year plus more?
Badowski: All the DLC and upgrades available for PC players will be included in the Xbox 360 version. This means you will get the richest PC version – with the arena mode and new tutorial. But there’s more. We called this edition of the game the “Enhanced Edition.” We’ve extended the gameplay by an additional four hours, two new major quests set in new locations. The new characters and intrigues will close some loose ends of the storyline. Moreover, we added new cinematics and animations. The mentioned intro is just one of them. Current PC players will be able to download this edition of the game free of charge on the 17th of April – just when the game hits the store shelves.
What has the experience been like porting the game over to the Xbox 360? Is it something that’s proven itself harder than originally anticipated?
Badowski: We really reached the frontier for the Xbox 360 hardware. The PC version of the game was praised for its graphics and we worked hard to make the game look great on the 360. I think we did a pretty good job and console players will receive one of the best looking titles for their platform. So sit back in your couch, install the game on your console’s hard drive and prepare to witness some real eye candy.
The Witcher 2 is a massive title with many potential outcomes, which is a large part of its charm. How many times would we have to play through the game to see all the possible outcomes from every conversation and mission?
Badowski: The game has 16 different endings, all depending on the choices you make. But remember that ending the game is one thing and playing is another. Many choices have deep in-game consequences and influence the world as you play. There are whole cities you don’t see if you make the wrong choice. Well, wrong is a bad word. Because there is no good or bad here. I should say: you won’t see entire locations, just because of one decision you make.
In our review of the PC version, we praised the game for its mature nature. Have you received any negative feedback from the violence shown in the trailer or in the game?
Badowski: No. The real world is brutal and we won’t hide that by moving to a fantasy scenery. We want players to be completely immersed in the world, so it can’t feel artificial. We don’t hide away violence, sex or corruption. Look outside – those things are out there. We want to deal with serious matters in our game and not make fairytales.
Lastly, we have to ask this — is there any chance PlayStation 3 gamers will eventually see The Witcher 2 grace their system of choice? The demand has to be out there. What’s keeping you guys from porting the game over to PS3 at this moment?
Badowski: The REDengine was designed to be a multiplatform tool, so there are no technical problems with this. But right now we are working hard to make the Xbox 360 version as polished as possible and this is our main focus.
We can’t thank Adam and Thomasz enough for taking the time to answer our questions. The Witcher 2 comes to Xbox 360 on April 17th.