Sharpen your swords: It’s getting to be about that time. That time when The Witcher fans start saying, “I think I’m ready to play through The Witcher 3 again.” I’ve been considering this myself. So maybe it’s not a coincidence that CDPR just confirmed it has its Witcher 4 (or whatever they plan to call it) team in place several months ahead of schedule.

True to its word, CD Projekt Red has formed a production team of over 400 developers to begin work on The Witcher 4. It promised to do as much in January, adding that it would employ AI in the upcoming game’s development. However, co-CEO Adam Badowski said that AI would not replace humans; it is just being used to make development more efficient and potentially avoid the mistakes made with Cyberpunk 2077.

“We think that AI is something that can help improve certain processes in game production but not replace people,” explained Badowski. “We believe that in the future, we’ll avoid a premiere like the one we faced with Cyberpunk 2077.”

Indeed, the team working on “Polaris” (The Witcher 4’s codename) has grown to 403 employees, about two-thirds of the entire CDPR staff. Many have gradually trickled in from the CP2077 update team. However, staffing has ramped up significantly, considering that in January, Badowski said they hoped to have 400 people working on Polaris by the end of summer.

Despite the large workforce, the game is still in the preproduction phase. However, since the team has reached management’s staffing goal ahead of schedule, the project might enter full production before the second half of 2024 instead of after, as Badowski previously projected.

The Witcher 4 is just one of several projects CDPR outlined in a 2022 roadmap. According to those plans, Polaris is not just The Witcher 4 but the start of a new Witcher trilogy. The company also confirmed Project Orion (Cyberpunk 2077 sequel) and Project Hadar, which is supposed to be an entirely new IP. The studio will additionally oversee third-party development of The Witcher remake from Fool’s Theory, and a vague Witcher RPG title from a TBA developer planned for a more distant future.

It is too early to speculate on a possible release date for Project Polaris, but CDPR has previously said it plans to launch the entire trilogy over six years. Assuming that each game takes two years and the first goes into full production by September, we could see the next Witcher game by the fall of 2026.

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