Is the Witcher 3 the New Skyrim?

The Witcher 3 will release a new, updated version on current-gen consoles, but how similar is this to what Bethesda does with Skyrim?

By LCLupus, Posted 16 Nov 2022

It has finally come to pass. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt will release on current-generation consoles more than seven years after its initial release back on the PS4/Xbox One generation. This is a remastered version with all the usual bits and pieces one would expect from something like this, such as the addition of all the DLC and general performance upgrades, but it may also indicate the beginning of something. We must ask ourselves: is the Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt going to be the next Skyrim?

This may seem like a ridiculous question, but after the announcement that the Witcher 3 was coming to current-gen consoles, it could remind one of what Skyrim likes to do. You see, Skyrim is definitely the most successful thing that Bethesda Game Studios has ever released, and it did so to overwhelmingly positive responses from gamers and critics alike.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, The Witcher, CD Projekt RED, Skyrim, Elder Scrolls, Bethesda, Remaster, Feature, Latest

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of the most famous games of all time, and to capitalize on that, Bethesda Game Studios knew how to ensure that this PS3/Xbox 360 generation game became a continuous classic. As soon as the PS4/Xbox One generation arrived, Skyrim came to that platform. It also constantly re-releases on PC in the form of one remastered edition after another, sometimes adding new content, and sometimes just doing the usual things like performance upgrades.

Because of this dedication to bringing the game to every single platform imaginable, there are so many versions of the game that it can be hard to keep track of them all. There’s the original version, the Legendary Edition, the Special Edition, the VR Edition, and the Very Special Edition. Games don’t usually do this, and they especially don’t do this on PC.

When a game releases on PC, there may, later down the line, be a remastered edition, but that’s about it. That’s where the madness ends. An original version and a remastered version, but Bethesda has ensured that people buy Skyrim again and again. It is a must-have game, and players will buy it again because of some new arbitrary addition that has been included in this latest edition. You can’t go and play that vanilla version you have on Steam, can you? Oh no, you need to play the one that has the Bethesda sanctioned mod support, don’t you?

Now, this may seem rather obvious. They made a lot of money off that game and so it makes sense to keep pushing it. Rockstar does that with GTA V, after all. Except that Rockstar only makes new versions for consoles rather than for PC. Rockstar’s other versions of GTA V are all about including DLC rather than trying to claim the game is enhanced in new ways. Additionally, Rockstar didn’t face a comparative failure after the release of their mega-classic.

Bethesda, after the release of Skyrim, remained dormant for several years because they are the type of game studio that doesn’t rear its head for just anything. They’re careful. They show off a game when they’re ready to show off a game. This is why the release of Fallout 4 was such a big deal. It was a new game from the Skyrim developers!

Then it came out and people were somewhat mixed on it. There were criticisms levied at things like the terrible dialogue system and the fact that the game had strayed even further from the heavy choice-oriented style of previous entries, but it was ultimately enjoyed. It also didn’t have the same cultural impact that Skyrim had. It was not an immensely successful, generation-defying masterpiece that could be released and re-released. It was just fine. Then, of course, the release of Fallout 76 definitely soured fans even more to the possibility of more Fallout from the developer.

However, a new Elder Scrolls is not Fallout. Elder Scrolls does not have the history of choice that Fallout has always had, but maybe there hasn’t been another Elder Scrolls because they know that the sequel will probably not do as well as Skyrim. It’s hard to imagine anything other than a handful of games, like Skyrim, GTA V, and Minecraft, having the cultural influence that those games had.

So, Bethesda has taken their time. Their game after Skyrim just didn’t resonate like their biggest classic. Therefore, they re-release their classic repeatedly everywhere they can because they know that no matter where they release it, the game will receive a positive reception and it will have a dedicated player base. It’s always going to happen. And here’s where we get to CD Projekt RED and The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt.

The Witcher 3 was released in 2015 and immediately became a classic. It had some issues at launch, as many big RPGs do because of the sprawling nature of their worlds. Still, The Witcher 3 fostered a sense of adoration from the gaming public for things like its dedication to releasing free content after release or how the big DLC expansions are considered some of the best in the business. The Witcher 3 is a powerful force and it made CD Projekt RED the darling of the games industry because of its respect for gamers, its respect for the games themselves, and their seeming lack of greed with regards to their free updates that other, lesser developers may have charged money for.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, The Witcher, CD Projekt RED, Skyrim, Elder Scrolls, Bethesda, Remaster, Feature, Latest

CD Projekt RED rode that wave of adoration, so when they showed off Cyberpunk 2077, people went into a frenzy. It was just about the coolest thing anyone could imagine. It was going to be the best thing that CD Projekt RED had ever done, and every gameplay reveal, trailer, and teaser brought increasing amounts of hype to the game. Then it released.

So, Cyberpunk 2077 made a lot of money, and it has its fans. But it isn’t like The Witcher 3. The game was plagued from launch because of the poor state of its release. It was broken, and practically everyone agreed that the game should have taken longer to release. The game must have been rushed out in the end. The audience was getting impatient and there hadn’t been another huge money surge like there had been from The Witcher 3, but Cyberpunk 2077 essentially released and then faded away. The game is having something of a resurgence at present, thanks in part to the release of the Edgerunners anime adaptation on Netflix, but it still isn’t quite The Witcher 3, now is it?

Now that this has all been laid out. It may seem somewhat strange to compare The Witcher 3 to Skyrim just because the game is set to release a next-gen version, but the similarities are quite interesting. Fallout 4 was successful, but it wasn’t Skyrim successful, so then Bethesda ramped up the re-release of Skyrim on every conceivable system it could find. Cyberpunk 2077 was successful, but it wasn’t The Witcher 3 successful, and now CD Projekt RED has started to ramp up its Witcher portfolio.

This takes into account more than just The Witcher 3 remaster on current-gen consoles, but also accounts for the fact that there is a sequel in the works and that there is a remake of the first Witcher game in development. CD Projekt RED is not playing around. They know that Cyberpunk 2077 did not hit the same nerve as The Witcher, so they’re doubling down on the franchise they know prints them cash.

If that Witcher 4 game does not have the same staying power, because, let’s face it, neither of the first two Witcher games had the staying power that the third entry has managed to accomplish, then you can expect another remaster. You can expect a special edition of The Witcher 3 on PC, a new version on the next console generation and the next thereafter.

Bethesda and CD Projekt RED are not all that different. They both had a hit the likes of which has never been seen before or since at either company, and both companies want to recapture that as much as possible because it makes good business sense to do so. They both want the money and the adoration that comes with that one game they made that initiated a cultural zeitgeist, and they’re afraid that new attempts will fail to recapture the magic. So, you might as well just re-release that old, beloved game over and over again.

Justin van Huyssteen (@LC_Lupus)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

comments powered by Disqus

Related Feature

  • 0

    Top 5 Biggest Rumors Leading to E3 2019

    By Grayshadow, Posted May 30, 2019

    3 2019 is almost here and the rumors have been spreading like wildfire. With game releases on the horizon and secret projects about to be shown it's hard not to be excited. Her


General Information

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher(s): Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer(s): CD Projekt RED
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Action, Adventure, Hack And Slash
Release Date: 2015-02-25

View All

Popular Articles