CD Projekt RED, the good folks who brought us The Witcher, had a couple of Gwent-related news to announce at Gamescom 2017.
First we heard about the new Gwent Masters eSports tournaments, but that’s not the announcement I want to talk about. The second, and most intriguing in my opinion, was Gwent Thronebreaker – the game’s new single-player campaign.
In Gwent Thronebreaker you play as Meve – the queen of the twin realms Lyria and Rivia. Rivia, by the way, is where Geralt is originally from. However, I don’t think we’ll get to meet our favorite monster hunter, as the campaign takes place even before the original Witcher title.
The company did release a teaser trailer for Thronebreaker, which you can see just below. But they also showed us the game in action at their booth.
As Meve, we will explore several different maps, collect resources and cards, and fight an “imminent foreign invasion.” However, during the demo, we only got to fight a group of bandits lead by the “Duke of Dogs”.
Every fight in the campaign is presented as a game of Gwent, which makes sense. Gwent, after all, is a simulation of war. The battles here are a bit different than what you can find in the multiplayer mode. There are bosses with special powers that can bend the rules in unexpected ways.
The objective will not always be to defeat the other side in battle. Sometimes you’ll have to destroy a specific unit / card, or defend one on your side. At other times you will simply need to survive. Thronebreaker breaks away from the kind of fights you see in the game’s PvP mode, and goes for a more epic feel.
That’s also why some of the cards you’ll get during the campaign will be “nerfed” when you go back to play PvP. Gwent Thronebreaker adds 20 new cards to the game, and all will be available during multiplayer battles. However, some of the cards, like Meve herself, are extremely powerful during the story. Those will play differently when you play against other people, to maintain the game’s balance.
You control Meve on the map, and are free to explore the different paths available to you. This isn’t an open world, but there are plenty of diverging paths with hidden treasures and side missions waiting for you. We’re not sure how free you are to backtrack once the story progresses, but it seems like every map is pretty self-contained.
We did spot a few treasure chests on the map while exploring. These secret caches hold more powerful cards and items, but getting to them might be trickier. They serve as a sort of environmental and navigational puzzles, and reward you greatly for your efforts.
Exploration is also the best way to gain gold and earn new units (or Gwent cards). You can also earn new units through the many story encounters.
Story and Choices
Story encounters are presented as a series of dialog choices fully voiced in 10 different languages. In the example CD Project RED showed us, Meve has reached a small village, where the residents have help the bandits we were hunting. We had a choice to be kind to the farmers we caught, or threaten them into revealing the location of the bandit leader. Then, at the end, we decided their fate.
The option we chose was to recruit all men into our army, a choice that didn’t go so well with the families they left behind. These type of choices will affect how the story progresses, and how Meve appears to her subjects and enemies.
While the farmers didn’t really like being draft to fight in a war, by doing so we gain a new type of resource – recruits. Recruits can be trained at camp and be assigned to different units.
Camp and Characters
The camp is an important part of Gwent Thronebreaker. You can stop and set camp at any point on the map. Apart from training recruits, the camp is also the place where you arrange your deck, customize your leader (Meve) and talk with the NPCs that follow you.
You will encounter these characters either through the story, or as part of a side mission. Whether they choose to join your army or not largely depends on the choices you made so far. Talking to the important characters you recruit can reveal more about the world, but also provide hint and strategy ideas. Some characters might advice a more direct approach, with a deck that consists of standard combat units. But others might help you discover and develop different deck builds, like a one that relies on traps and spies for example.
Pushing the player to discover new strategies during the single-player campaign is a nice touch. And since both your choices and the characters you turn to your cause affect the ending you’re going to get, you’ll probably play the campaign more then once. That way you’ll get to hone your Gwent skills and enjoy a story crated by the great writers of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
Gwent Thronebreaker won’t be the only single-player campaign the game is going to get. CD Projekt RED already confirmed to us that there are more coming.
But whether or not these will actually be release is up to the fans. If fans will like the idea of single-player Gwent, they will be getting more campaigns, with an over-arching story that connects all of them. There’s even a shorter campaign starring Geralt in the works.
unlike the base Gwent game, Thronebreaker isn’t free to play. It will be sold as a separate expansion at a yet undisclosed price. It makes sense though, as the campaign will last you around 15 hours, and you’ll probably play it more than once to find all characters and cards.
Gwent Thronebreaker will be released later this year on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.