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Two Witcher 3 expansions combine to equal roughly The Witcher 2 in length

CD Projekt Red tells us more about them.

The two planned Witcher 3 expansions will, combined, "be like the length of The Witcher 2", game director Konrad Tomaszkiewicz told me when I visited the studio in May.

"Those expansions will be big," he said. "If you summarise these two expansions, probably the length of the two expansions will be like the length of The Witcher 2. Those are really big, with different locations, different characters, different stories, different items, cut-scenes, everything."

The first expansion, Heart of Stone, arrives October. It's around 10 hours in length. The second expansion, Blood & Wine, arrives first-quarter 2016, and is around 20 hours in length. "But from my experience," Tomaszkiewicz added, "it always grows. It's like in The Witcher 3: we plan the main story for 50 hours and the side activities for 50 hours. It should be 100 hours. And it's not. It's hard to plan actually because you're adding stuff - adding, adding, adding to fill the world."

Konrad Tomaszkiewicz will direct the expansions, and they are keeping the bulky Witcher 3 team busy post-release - as are patching and the free dollops of DLC. But work on the expansions originally began 200km away in Krakow, where CDPR opened a smaller studio in 2013.

"We hired the Krakow team and we gave them this - the story for the new locations - a long time ago," CD Projekt Red head of studio, Adam Badowski, told me. "Our guys will be helping. The Witcher Wild Hunt is super-huge but we didn't cut off anything," he added to be clear. "No, no, we just say to them 'create another story plot' and it's from scratch."

Both expansions will be standalone - exist separately to the main story of The Witcher 3 - and "probably" for high level characters. "We didn't decide on this yet," Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz, lead quest designer - and Konrad's brother - told me. "But taking into consideration it's an expansion pack, we will probably go with this approach."

You can play on in The Witcher 3 after you finish the main quest. "After the credits roll you end up in Kaer Morhen and you can continue playing," he explained. "All the side-quests you didn't do you can finish playing, aside from those connected to the main storyline."

The first expansion, Heart of Stone, takes place in the wilds of No Man's Land, near Novigrad and Oxenfurt, and involves a contract with a mysterious chap called the Man of Glass. He sounds like a real pane! Ha! I'm laughing so much I'm shattered! Heart of Stone costs $9.99 (~7) alone, or 20 as part of the two-pack 20 Expansion Pass.

The second expansion, Blood & Wine, will be set in a completely new place and be based on an old Polish tale. "The second one will add a totally new, separate location called Toussaint," said Mateusz Tomaskiewicz, "a place from the books - a place that is actually in the vicinity of Nilfgaard's empire. It's a vassal state and it didn't participate in the war at all, so it's untouched by war altogether.

"It will be this totally new zone with size of - it's hard to tell because it's being done at this moment. It's one of the zones that is totally open ... just like Novigrad or Skellige."

His brother Konrad Tomaszkiewicz added: "It will be new, really big hub with new monsters, new story, new challenges and also totally new environment, which will be cool for players."

Studio head Adam Badowski also suggested the expansions will lift the bar in terms of the game's looks. Blood & Wine will cost $19.99 on its own or, again, can be bought as part of the 20 two-pack Expansion Pass.

Lost in Shibuya A night of adventure in Tokyo. Lost in Shibuya

Expansions can be a time for studios to let their hair down and introduce not only more story content but also gameplay features to the game. I asked whether this will be the case for The Witcher 3. "Maybe we will add some new gameplay features," mulled Konrad Tomaszkiewicz.

"Most of the time it will be just new content," his brother Mateusz continued, "but of course we are trying to - in those quests - show some things we didn't do before in The Witcher 3, like totally different kind of gameplay or feeling. I don't know yet how much of systems will be influenced by... It's too early to speak about it."

But - and take this with a pinch of salt - we could see the reinstatement of cut feature ice-skating. "Maybe in some expansion or something we will add it because it's a cool idea," Konrad Tomaszkiewicz thought out loud.

All of your - and everyone else's - feedback will taken on board as the team creates the expansions. "We are trying to listen to fans and to the reviewers and we're trying to get what people liked and design this to expose those things," said lead writer Marcin Blacha. And in the mean time the dollops of free DLC - there are currently three to go - and game patches will continue.

"Just to make one thing clear," CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwinski concluded, "there's quite a long support planned for The Witcher [3] still, so we're not abandoning people. For The Witcher 1 and 2 we were supporting the game for roughly to two years each, and that's the same [here]. Of course it won't be the full team - at a certain point it will be much smaller."

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