I think it’s safe to say we are all excited about The Witcher: Monster Slayer. The dark fantasy series has grown to huge popularity in recent years, and though Monster Slayer isn’t a direct sequel to The Witcher 3 – and actually takes place 100s of years before – it’s still a Witcher game. And, if anything, it’s one you could potentially play more of on a daily basis.
After all, The Witcher: Monster Slayer is an AR game cut from a similar cloth to Pokémon Go or Minecraft Earth, and provides players with a daily slice of Witcher-ey goodness in the form of daily quests and monsters to slay. From the gameplay trailer, it’s apparent that the game also has its own tracking mechanics, characters, a world filled with free-roaming monsters, and a fully fledged combat system. But what isn’t clear, is how much depth those systems have.
We were lucky enough to get the chance to interview Maciej Weiss, Monster Slayer’s game director, and Rafał Staszewsk, the technical director, about just how deep the game goes.
Pocket Tactics: So to begin, why did you choose to make an AR Witcher game?
Maciej Weiss: We started thinking about making a location-based game like this in 2010. But to really take our idea off the ground we needed an amazing world and a story. Over the years, we’ve got to know the people from CD PROJEKT, and as huge fans of The Witcher we thought, that’s it! We started talking within the team about how players could become their own Witchers, take on life-sized monsters in first-person AR combat, and forge their own legend. We also realised our game could become a portal between the real world and the Continent, allowing people to experience this amazing fantasy setting in an all new way. We pitched the idea to them, followed up with a prototype, and here we are today, finally able to talk about The Witcher: Monster Slayer!
PT: The Witcher: Monster Slayer is set long before Geralt comes into the picture, right? Is it just after the Conjunction of the Spheres? Will there be much narrative in the game?
Rafał Staszewsk: Monster Slayer is set some time after the Conjunction of the Spheres, around the time when Witchers are still somewhat of a novelty on the Continent. But with the growing number of bloodthirsty beasts plaguing people’s lives, these professional monster slayers have become indispensable. Of course, since this is a Witcher-world game, narrative is a significant part of Monster Slayer, but we don’t want to spoil anything. What we can say, however, is that key story beats are presented via quests which you’ll be charged to complete by characters roaming the world. There’s also one early on who’ll become a particularly important and helpful presence. You can see him, as well as another character, in our gameplay trailer, and there’s plenty more to meet.
PT: So how about the monsters? Will there be all the same ones from the bestiary in The Wild Hunt?
MW: Defeating monsters and building a collection of trophies is the main aspect of The Witcher: Monster Slayer, so we wanted players to have plenty to hunt. Some of them will be familiar if you’ve spent some time with the Witcher games. In the teaser, for example, we’ve shown you the Leshen, and in the gameplay trailer a couple more beasts, such as griffins, ghouls, fiends, wraiths, a water hag, and drowners, for example. We’re also working on bringing all-new beasts to Monster Slayer, ones you’ve never seen before in The Witcher games. We’re going to keep these a secret, though, so that when you play the game you’ll truly feel like you’re in uncharted territory.
PT: So what will fighting a monster look like for players? What options are there in terms of approach?
MW: True to The Witcher lore, each encounter in Monster Slayer starts with preparation. Equipping the best gear to counter the monster you’re about to face, and figuring out the best strategy to apply when fighting it, are what determine your survival and success. You’ll have your silver and steel swords, signs, and you’ll also be able to craft special bombs, brew potions, and apply oils to your blades to increase their effectiveness. Leveling up your character and finding better armor will also play an important role when it comes to staying alive.
PT: How about combat and signs? Will there be a swiping system, similar to Elder Scroll’s Blades?
Some of the systems, like slashing swords and throwing bombs, are swipe based, but our signs system is based on pattern recognition. At first, these may seem like familiar systems, but the input logic is different, and we put a lot of emphasis on pacing, too. For example, depending on how you swipe, you’ll perform either quick or strong attacks, and varying your attack patterns in terms of type and direction, is an important aspect of our combat system. Witchers don’t have shields, so in order to block an enemy’s attack you will have to use your sword, and time your guard.
For signs, our system is a free-form one, and you’re free to draw the symbols anywhere on the screen, which makes using them in fights more dynamic and immersive. There’s a whole lot of depth here that we believe will be fun and rewarding for players to discover. It’s difficult to fully show this with a screenshot or a video. You’ll need to touch it yourself. And when you do, it’s our hope you’ll feel that the way you fight is something fresh and exciting, but also feels distinctly ‘Witcher’.
PT: For my last question, what’s the thing that excites you most about Monster Slayer? What do you think makes it unique in comparison to other AR games? Also when can we hope to play it?
RS: The most exciting part for me is that you can become a Witcher on your terms. Different creatures will behave distinctly during an encounter, making each fight a unique challenge. If you also wish to defeat all of the beasts, you’ll need to master the skills and apply the knowledge you gain along the way. And while combat is an important part of the game, so too are elements outside of it, like tracking your prey, for example. Then there are also quests, some of which are quite extensive and will allow you to experience location-based AR gameplay in ways you might have never expected.
As for the global release date, we’ll have more news to share regarding this later in the year. Players in New Zealand are currently able to check out an in-development iOS version of Monster Slayer, and we’ll be making this available to more regions throughout the soft launch phase.