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CD Projekt Red is ramping up production on The Witcher 4, and of course it's looking into using AI

 The Witcher: A New Saga.
The Witcher: A New Saga.

Back in March 2023, CDPR's then-CEO Adam Kiciński said the quiet part out loud on an earnings call, and referred to the studio's Polaris project (a new Witcher trilogy) as The Witcher 4. Naturally the studio went into immediate damage control mode and denied the first Polaris game is The Witcher 4, but here's what Kiciński said at the time: "We want to release three big Witcher games within six years, starting from the release of Polaris, which is Witcher 4."

CDPR first announced Polaris in October 2022, and has referenced it a few times since (though the only information about the game comes from fan theorising about the teaser image). It's started 2024 in the same way, telling Reuters that production on Polaris is going into full swing this year.

"We'd like to have around 400 people working on [Polaris] by the middle of the year," said joint CEO Adam Badowski. That's a lot of developers, but we already know from some recent quarterly results that CDPR had around 300 people working on the project last year, so it's not like staffing up is just starting: this project is already well underway.

Badowski and Michal Nowakowski became joint CEOs at the start of 2024, and the former also clarified that the sequel to Cyberpunk 2077, codenamed Orion, is still in the conceptual phase. Badowski said CDPR was considering multiplayer elements for the next Cyberpunk, but didn't give any details.

CD Projekt's hiring is currently focused on its North American studio (which is where Orion is in development), which led Badowski onto the thorny issue of AI in game development. "We think that AI is something that can help improve certain processes in game production," said Badowski, "but not replace people."

Last year saw the redemption arc for Cyberpunk 2077 completed with the excellent Phantom Liberty expansion (which was also something of a mini-overhaul of the whole game). Speaking to that game's reception, Badowski reckons changes to CD Projekt's processes have given the studio confidence "that in the future we'll avoid a premiere like the one we faced with Cyberpunk 2077."

That situation was rather self-inflicted, in my opinion, which I only mention because Cyberpunk 2077 suffered from an enormously drawn-out hype cycle, and we're already being fed snippets about Polaris when it is surely years away. I want the Witcher 4, we all do, and CDPR knows that. Breadcrumbs are fine and all, but maybe the next time it speaks publicly about this game some red meat would be welcome—even if that means they don't mention it again for years.