It’s been over a month since the global release of The Witcher: Monster Slayer, and we hope you’re enjoying your new role as a destroyer of beasts, accepting bounties, ridding the land of foul, and mythical, creatures. As for us, in our The Witcher: Monster Slayer review, we found that it “does a good job of bringing the Witcher experience to mobile.” This is largely due to just how much this game takes inspiration from its big brother, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, while also succeeding in finding its own identity.
Monster Slayer features all that you would expect to see from a Witcher game, from harrowing creatures – such as hags, griffins, drowners, wyverns, and more – to combat signs, potions, and oils – all of which are vital to surviving, and thriving, as a Witcher.
Of course, many may have been hoping to bump into Geralt of Rivia, given this is a Witcher title, but alas, Monster Slayer takes place years before Geralt is even an infant running around with a wooden sword. That’s right, there’s no legendary Witcher, which means you must step up to the plate, complete quests and bounties, and cleanse the dangers around you – build your own legend, and give Geralt something to aim towards.
To truly capture the essence of The Witcher, and bring it to mobile devices is impressive – especially when it stays true to its roots. So, just what does it take to form this experience while also keeping fans in mind? Well, we caught up with Spokko technical director and member of the board, Rafał Staszewski, to find out, and discuss when the idea for a Witcher augmented reality title came about, and the answer might just surprise you. We also touch on what fan reception has been like, and what players can expect to see in the future, including new faces, quests, and monsters.
So, what are you waiting for? Kick back, relax, put that silver sword down, and read on. A Witcher’s knowledge is vital to their survival after all.
Pocket Tactics: When did the idea for a Witcher AR game first come about?
Rafał Staszewski: We wanted to make a location-based game a couple of years before Niantic released Ingress. The initial idea was to have players scan special QR codes placed around the city using their phones, which would initiate various in-game activities such as story chapters, combat, etc. We and our partner back then ended up not moving forward with that project for a couple of reasons – related to both business as well as the feasibility of the technology at the time – and we started creating other games which we had in mind.
Over time, we saw how Ingress prospered and how successful Pokémon Go was starting to become, and that gave us a little bit of assurance that our initial idea was really cool and there’s still a lot that we can do. That was a fundamental step in proceeding with our idea after all and building an immersive story-driven experience around the location-based genre.
When Google announced that they were going to provide technology to developers which gives the possibility of embedding gameplay elements into the real world, we knew that it would be the perfect opportunity to start seriously thinking about our new game. It was just a few of us back then, but we believed deeply in our idea and started to shape it.
Location-based games have become more and more popular in recent years, so what is it that makes The Witcher: Monster Slayer stand out?
RS: For us, it’s the story and how that is combined with the location-based aspects of the game. The Witcher: Monster Slayer has a full story season that makes use of all the location-based goodness – such as space and time impacting quests. When taking on some quests in the game, you’ll sometimes need to wait for someone, do certain things at a certain moment in time, and find specific locations in real places. So it’s not just a typical game of slaying monsters and collecting trophies.
The story needs your time and attention. It all works in real-time, so if the game tells you to come back by noon, you have to come back by noon. It is also based in The Witcher universe, so we couldn’t forget about meaningful choices and consequences. You’ll come across tough decisions during gameplay, and some consequences may not be felt until much later down the line. Our focus on story is continuous, and we plan to add more seasons with new adventures, and, in some cases, you’ll find stories and quests that connect between seasons in different ways!
Were there any challenges to adapting The Witcher to AR?
RS: Sure there were. The biggest challenge was that usually, the 3D assets that we create are meant to be viewed from specific angles and in predetermined lighting, while here, the game can be played anywhere anytime. If the player wants to look at the monster from the bottom up they can do it, so we can’t utilize the usual tricks. Getting the shaders to blend nicely with reality was also a big challenge.
How frequently can players expect updates? We know you’ve only just released the game, but do players have more content to look forward to?
RS: We are planning a monster-focused update to be released this fall, along with the second season with new adventures for our witchers. We’re preparing to introduce updates quarterly, so players will be able to find more fun and content without waiting too long each time. We are focusing now on the updates I’ve mentioned, but of course, we’re also thinking about ideas for the future.
Throughout the game, players meet numerous characters, will more be introduced in time?
RS: Of course! You can already meet a number of NPCs on your path and learn about their stories, but this is just the beginning. Soon they will be joined by completely new characters with new, endearing stories for you to discover.
Of course, there are many creatures from the Witcher universe already in-game, but is there more to come?
RS: Yes, monster updates are an important part of this game and its development. You will be able to encounter more creatures known from The Witcher universe alongside these, which we came up with and will be totally new for this world. We’re already aiming to add some pretty interesting ones with our first monster update this fall!
The Witcher is a much-loved franchise with a passionate fan base. What has the reception been like so far?
RS: Mostly very positive! If we take a look into the numbers themselves – our rating on iOS is 4.5 and 4.3 on Android, and we seem to have stabilised. Also, we hit one million downloads on Google Play, which suggests that players are really taking to the game, and hopefully enjoying their time with it!
What has fan-perception been like so far?
RS: The game is easy to pick up and play, but sometimes you need to dedicate time to master the fights and dig into the story. It’s not a sweet romance. Sometimes it’s bitter, but that’s how the story is, and that’s the very essence of The Witcher universe. But how the community is growing and building around the game is very encouraging for the team, and we love it! Our social media channels are growing, the community is helping each other, and we are really happy that we are taking part in it.
Will fan feedback play a part in future updates and potential content?
RS: We’re getting tons of feedback from our players, and we really appreciate every word. It will definitely help us to upgrade the experience and work on our project for many years to come. So yes, definitely, we are making a game for people to enjoy, and everything we put in the game has to benefit the players in some way and enhance their experience with The Witcher: Monster Slayer.
So there you have it, turns out an augmented reality Witcher game has been a long time coming, and with plenty more in store for The Witcher: Monster Slayer, it’s safe to say that we are going to be walking the path for some time to come. If you need a helping hand, be sure to check out our The Witcher: Monster Slayer friends and The Witcher: Monster Slayer fake GPS guides.