The Witcher 3 is big in more ways than one. Since it was first announced, CD Projekt Red has promised a huge open world to explore, filled with hundreds of hours worth of content. With the game's May 19 release date nearly here, we decided to take a look at all the different ways The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is shaping up to be one of the biggest games...well, ever.
According to CD Projekt Red, Witcher 3 is more than 35 times the size of Witcher 2. However, since Witcher 2 isn't truly an open-world game, the comparison can be a little confusing. A better point of comparison would be other open world titles like Grand Theft Auto V or The Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim. It's always difficult to compare the size of game worlds, but thanks to some numbers from a CD Projekt Red presentation at GDC we now have some concrete information with which to estimate Geralt's fantasy world.
Slides in the presentation mention two large areas that make up the bulk of Witcher 3's world: Novigrad and Skellige. Novigrad clocks in at around 72 square kilometers, with Skellige's size estimated at 64 square kilometers. Together, the two combine to form a game world that covers 136 square kilometers, or roughly 52 square miles.
Members of gaming forum NeoGAF crunched the numbers on world sizes for various other open-world games, and the results are astounding. Skyrim's game world, for example, is only around 39 square kilometers, making Witcher 3's world roughly 3.5 times larger than that of Bethesda's open-world epic. In fact, the only modern game (if we aren't counting games that map the vast reaches of space, like Elite: Dangerous) that even comes close to the size of Witcher 3 is GTA V, with its 81 square kilometer world. Even then, Witcher 3 is 1.5 times larger.
See the map above? That's the world map we know about. There are still areas in the game of unknown size unaccounted for, meaning Witcher 3 is actually larger still. But all that size is for naught if it isn't filled with memorable characters and interesting activities, which brings us to our second point...
It's hard to exactly quantify game length. After all, each player's experience will be different according to how they play. But that hasn't stopped CD Projekt Red from disclosing some numbers that they think accurately describe the size of Witcher 3. One of those numbers is 200 hours, which senior game designer Damien Monnier says includes doing everything the game has to offer. Some reports state playing through the game's main story will take roughly 50 hours, while one CD Projekt Red playtester, speedrunning the game with inside developer knowledge, finished the main story in roughly 25 hours. Other times CD Projekt Red has pointed towards roughly 100 hours being an "average" playthrough of the game, which includes players completing the main story and various side quests.
So which number is the most accurate? Probably something in between. Whether you fly through the main storyline or explore the game's vast world of side activities and quests, Witcher 3 should provide plenty of value. And that's just on the first playthrough. After all, the game is said to have more than 36 ending "world states", as determined by your choices throughout the game. These will lead to one of three different, hour-long epilogues. That should give players plenty of incentive to play through the title a second time.
A massive game world filled with content does come with a cost, and that cost is install size. PC players will need to clear up 40GB of hard drive space in order to install the game. It's big, but not unheard of. Console players, however, will have even more content to install, as reports have surfaced that the PlayStation 4 version of the game will require a 50GB install. Presumably the Xbox One version of the game will feature a similar install size, making it even larger than the 40GB install requirement for Assassin's Creed Unity.
No matter which way you cut it, Witcher 3 is going to be big. But bigger doesn't always mean better. Ultimately it will be up to gamers to decide if Geralt's last adventure will live up to the hype. We will know the answer in just a few weeks.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt releases on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC May 19.