The Witcher 2 on Xbox 360 will get extra story content as well as the 2.0 enhancements, Dark Mode, Arena, new tutorial and new four minute opening cinematic, CD Projekt Red has revealed.
And, crucially, it will all be offered for free on PC, either "around the same time" or very shortly after. "If there's going to be some differences they're not going to be like months," story designer and writer Jan Bartkowicz told Eurogamer in an interview following his Witcher 2 Expo presentation. "They're going to be more into days. It's what I think is going to happen."
During his presentation, Bartkowicz showed a slide with 12 bullet points, each referring to a new feature coming to The Witcher 2 on Xbox 360 (and, we now know, PC). Four were filled out (Dark mode, Arena, tutorial, CGI opening). The remaining eight were greyed out and blank.
Most, if not all of those, will be story additions. There are no new modes being worked on beyond Dark Mode and Arena, Bartkowicz told us.
"I cannot say anything very particular. We're really focusing on expanding the story a little bit and not - I don't know how to talk about it without revealing anything I can't. Within these eight points it's not going to be about technical improvement so much. It's going to be more about from the narrative point. It's not going to be CGI stuff. We are going to have some additional events that are going to happen in the game," he told us.
"Majority of this is some stuff that will make the story bigger, show some back story, show some additional events - and now you can understand some things that were still open at the beginning of Witcher 2, but are right now closed."
Bartkowicz believes the story content will be "bigger than all the DLCs we've released so far", and offer "closure" to some storylines in the game.
There's a chance it could revolve around character Yennefer. "We haven't forgotten about her and she's a very important part of the whole story," Bartkowicz revealed. "And that's all I can say - I can't say anything about future releases."
CD Projekt Red referred to the Xbox 360 version of The Witcher 2 as an adaptation rather than a port; there's significant effort being poured in to ensure that the company's belated console debut is a success.
"We want to have a game that's going to have the Xbox 360-exclusive title quality."
Jan Bartkowicz, story designer and writer, The Witcher 2
"Right now we're focused on delivering the game for Xbox, and we want to do it internally. That's why we call it an adaptation," Bartkowicz told the Eurogamer Expo 2011 audience. "We want to have a game that's going to have the Xbox 360-exclusive title quality.
"Almost everybody in our development right now is focused on delivering this game to Xbox 360. And we're a small studio; right now we're around 80 people in the development part. It's the first console title ever for us and we wouldn't want to grab too many things at the same time and deliver a poor quality product at the end of the day."
He added, in our interview: "I believe it's going to be like no other game on Xbox . And, of course, there's a lot of marketing stuff you can say, and a lot stuff that marketing guys want people to say is probably bullshit. But I can say with my hands on my heart that there's no such non-linear and mature, complex story on Xbox."
CD Projekt Red wants The Witcher 2 on Xbox 360 to "take advantage of everything the console has". The Xbox 360 controller has been a particular focus, and support for it has been "revamped" beyond what's already available on PC. Bartkowicz revealed to Eurogamer that there will be some targeting assistance, as well as help with Geralt's initial reactions to combat.
CD Projekt has also had to "avoid some shortcomings" on Xbox 360, owing to the console's deficit of power when compared to a modern gaming PC.
"I'm not really that good with all the technology stuff. We really pushed it for the PC release, so it's natural that you have to do some voodoo to make it look really great on Xbox, and sometimes you have to replace something with something else that will deliver a really cool graphical experience," Bartkowicz said during his Eurogamer Expo 2011 presentation.
He also revealed that on Xbox 360 the game will likely span two DVD discs.
"We haven't had an official statement about it," he said, "but I think we're - it's going to be more than one. It cannot be three, but I think it's going to be two discs."
Bartkowicz teased that there may be something "graphical" included on Xbox 360 to fill in players about the back story of The Witcher 1. A comic, as in Mass Effect 2 on PS3? "It's going to be graphical stuff I think," he told us. "How it's going to be made I don't know."
During his session, he said: "I can't say anything about adapting The Witcher 1, but we're already working on a way to present the back story, the storyline from the first Witcher, to console gamers who haven't seen the PC release. I cannot say anything specific, but it's something that we have in our mind, and once the Xbox 360 version hits the shelves, something is going to be there."
Bartkowicz talked over a live demo of The Witcher 2 on Xbox 360. This had hero Geralt and a dwarf companion exploring a forest near Flotsam and fighting monsters to lure out some nasty elves for a chit chat. Textures were notably less detailed than on PC, particularly on Geralt's face, but the environment looked sumptuous nonetheless. Rest assured, the game remains visibly striking, and performance was good. Bartkowicz later told us the footage was from an alpha build of the game.
Whether or not The Witcher 2 will be on PS3 is a decision Bartkowicz hasn't been privy to. It also sounds like a decision that hasn't yet been made.
"It's a decision that's made in a room of four people. I don't know anything about any decisions about PS3," he revealed. "All of us would love to see it on PS3, but it's just a matter of business decisions. Until somebody says OK let's make this happen, we can't say anything."
During his talk, he said: "I don't say the PS3 version is a subject that we're not talking about and we're not really concerned about. But right now we just want to deliver this [the Xbox 360 version] on first quarter of 2012 to be like a really, really, really good polished product."
That date, we couldn't narrow down. "I don't even know what month it's going to be [released]," admitted Bartkowicz.