The Witcher is a series of video games based on the books of Andrzej Sapkowski that we’re sure hardly need much introduction at this point. Set in a grim fantasy world that echoes many real-world issues, the Witcher easily maneuvers around many common fantasy tropes. The result is a memorable setting filled with monsters, intrigue, tough moral questions, and some very interesting elements of Slavic folklore.
In this article, we’ll be providing a brief overview of all three games that comprise the main series, as well as several other spinoff titles that were released over the years.
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Release date: October 26, 2007
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, macOS
The very first entry in the series bears a simple title: “The Witcher”, a somewhat unusual game that, despite not getting much mainstream attention, managed to attract many RPG fans.
The combat system of The Witcher was unconventional, to say the least. Most RPGs at the time were either action RPGs or they used a turn-based combat system that relied on dice rolls, much like a tabletop RPG. The Witcher, however, combined the two. The end result was a unique combat system that players either loved or hated.
Namely, the player chains melee combos by clicking on an enemy at the right time during the attack animation, sort of like a quicktime event. Of course, that’s not the full extent of the Witcher’s combat system: there are multiple fighting styles – strong, fast, and group, each style featuring a unique animation set and each obviously suited for different types of situations/enemies.
Moreover, the player unlocks the five Witcher signs at different points throughout the game, and they provide an extra dimension to the combat. On top of that, there’s alchemy, which is a big part of the game, especially when played on hard mode. The player can consume a variety of potions that provide them with different advantages and, possibly, disadvantages as well.
Now, an important aspect of The Witcher which made it stand out when it came to the narrative was the lack of clear-cut black-and-white moral choices. Rather, the player is often stuck trying to decide which choice would be a lesser evil, and many of the choices can have palpable repercussions hours later into the game.
All things considered, The Witcher is an interesting game that is a must-play for RPG enthusiasts, but it remains largely overshadowed by its more successful and more mainstream-friendly sequels.
The Witcher is playable only on Windows and on macOS, and though an updated console version of the game was planned, it sadly never saw the light of day. The original was released in 2007, but it was off to a rocky start as it was plagued by bugs and performance issues. An updated Enhanced Edition of the game as released the following year, and a macOS port came out in 2012.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Release date: May 17, 2011
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox 360
Four years after the release of the original game, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings came out, and it definitely got more space in the spotlight than its predecessor did.
The second game scrapped the combat system of the original in favor of a more accessible and flexible action RPG approach. The swordplay is more dynamic and the effects of the witcher signs were changed to better fit this new system. However, the role of potions was downplayed, as the buffs now lasted only for a couple of minutes rather than whole in-game hours like in the original Witcher.
The story still featured a number of impactful choices, and famously, the second of the game’s three chapters is completely different based on a single timed decision that the player must make at the end of chapter one.
All in all, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings put the franchise on the right track, it is a well-paced game for the most part, and it looks quite good for a 2011 release. Granted, the ending feels a bit rushed and makes for a somewhat underwhelming conclusion, but it won’t detract too much from any new players’ overall experience.
The game was originally released in 2011 for Windows and the Xbox 360, once again followed by an Enhanced Edition the next year. Moreover, it was ported to macOS towards the end of 2012, and then to Linux in 2014.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Release date: May 19, 2015
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Then there’s the third and most popular installment, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and it took things to a whole new level.
The gameplay was fundamentally very similar to that of the second game, but it was streamlined and improved in many ways, with the witcher signs being reworked once again. More importantly, the new game took place in a vast open world that added more freedom and lost little uniqueness compared to the relatively small non-linear areas explored in the first two installments.
From a technical standpoint, the game is amazing and the moral choices are still there, though the biggest flaw of The Witcher 3 is probably how little the choices that the players made in the previous game mattered. Moreover, some prominent characters from The Witcher 2 were missing completely, which left many fans with a sour taste in their mouths.
But, as disappointing as the aforementioned shortcoming is, it fades compared to all the things that the game does right – the main story is accompanied by a slew of interesting side quests, the world looks absolutely stunning, and the combat is the best it’s ever been in the series. Ultimately, The Witcher 3 is easily one of the best games ever made and is an absolute must-play, even if you don’t care about the previous installments.
The game was originally released in 2015 for Windows, as well as the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. More recently, the game has also been ported to the Nintendo Switch in October 2019.
The Witcher Adventure Game
Release date: November 27, 2014
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
The Witcher Adventure Game is a tabletop game created by CD Projekt Red and Fantasy Flight Games, designed for 2-4 players. A digital version of the game was also created, allowing people to play it in local or online multiplayer, or against AI opponents.
It generally received mixed reviews and it’s not exactly a prominent part of the Witcher IP, but if you have friends who are die-hard Witcher fans, it might be worth checking out.
The Witcher Battle Arena
Release date: January 25, 2015
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone
The Witcher Battle Arena was a short-lived mobile MOBA game. Like most mobile games, it was free-to-play and relied on microtransactions to generate revenue.
Battle Arena was released for iOS, Android, and even Windows Phone in 2015. Sadly, it didn’t really take off, and the servers were shut down by the end of that same year, so this game remains little more than a footnote in the history of the Witcher series.
Gwent: The Witcher Card Game
Release date: October 23, 2018
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS
The Gwent card game which was introduced in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt ended up being very popular – so much so that it got released as an independent game.
Fundamentally, the game of Gwent remains fairly simple, featuring casual and ranked play modes, along with an arena mode where the players have to build a deck from random cards. If you liked Gwent in The Witcher 3 or if you generally like card games such as Magic: The Gathering or Hearthstone, then this is also a game worth trying out.
Gwent was initially released for Windows, the PlayStation 4, and the Xbox One, and it was only recently brought to iOS in October 2019. An Android version is also planned and will come out in the future, though the devs did not give any specific release date window.
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales
Release date: October 23, 2018
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Thronebreaker was originally envisioned as a single-player campaign for Gwent, but it ended up being released as a separate game on the same day as Gwent.
That said, Thronebreaker features a single-player campaign where combat boils down to Gwent matches played against AI opponents. However, the game also features an actual story with dialogue choices, consequences, and the player can explore the world which is viewed from an isometric perspective.
All in all, Thronebreaker is an interesting game that is bound to catch the attention of Gwent fans, but if you didn’t like Gwent in The Witcher 3 or if card games such as this one aren’t your cup of tea in general, you can give this game a pass.
And that would be all the Witcher games released so far! At the moment, CD Projekt Red is occupied with other high-profile IPs i.e. Cyberpunk 2077, and there has been no news regarding any future AAA Witcher games. Even so, we can be certain that the company won’t abandon an IP as popular and as profitable as the Witcher anytime soon.
That said, we can be certain that a new high-budget Witcher game will be out eventually, but nothing has been officially confirmed yet. The devs did state, though, that Geralt’s story is finished, so the next Witcher game will most likely feature a new protagonist.
On a final note, if you feel that we’ve overlooked anything or that we’ve made any errors, let us know in the comments and we’ll see about fixing it ASAP.