Almost seven years after behemoth role-playing game The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt launched to critical acclaim, Polish developer CD Projekt Red has finally confirmed what most of us already knew: a new Witcher game is in active development.
What people are less likely to be well-versed on is what exactly this might entail for the series. Is this The Witcher 4, a direct continuation of The Witcher 3, or a totally new story? Will it incorporate original characters from Netflix’s enormously successful adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski’s saga? Most importantly of all, what has become of everyone’s favorite monster-hunting weatherman — without the White Wolf, how will anyone know when the wind’s howling?
The natural place to start is at the end of The Witcher 3. Interestingly, there are two endings worth considering here: the end of the core game, and the end of Blood and Wine, the game’s second major expansion.
The former is arguably a better indicator of what’s to come, but the latter gives us Geralt of Rivia’s beloved swan song — a performance so perfect that a return to the stage could only end in disaster. A future cameo from Geralt in a similar vein to Kazuma Kiryu in Yakuza: Like A Dragon or Emil in Nier: Automata could be tasteful, but anything more than that … look, Geralt’s been through a lot. Let him drink his wine in peace.
It’s more worthwhile to look at the original, widely considered-to-be-canon ending for The Witcher 3. For those who are a little hazy on the details, there are three main ending scenarios in The Witcher 3: Ciri becomes a witcher, Ciri becomes the Empress, or Ciri dies. It’s also possible that Geralt dies in that last ending, although you never actually see him being killed — it’s just implied by the fact the house he’s in gets surrounded by approximately a zillion monsters.
Aside from these four ending conditions, there are also a variety of other permutations designed to texture the world state based on the decisions you made throughout the story. Is Radovid still king, or was he dethroned by a ragtag group of the Northern Realms’ most unlikely allies? What about the Bloody Baron? Did he die, or did he make his way to the Blue Mountains with Anna? Who rules Skellige? There are so many different ways for The Witcher 3 to resolve that developing a Witcher 4 that respects everyone’s decisions can’t be an easy feat.
And yet there is a single, actually half-decent clue from the microscopic crumb of information CDPR has provided us with so far: a solitary, half-submerged medallion with what looks to be a feline face.
In The Lady of the Lake — the fifth and chronologically final novel in Sapkowski’s Witcher saga — Ciri manages to reclaim three witcher medallions from a bounty hunter named Leo Bonhart. Later in the novel, she is reunited with Geralt and Yennefer in Stygga Castle, at which point we get the following paragraph:
She took out the medallion taken from Bonhart. She put the cat around her neck and gave Geralt the wolf. “I hope you know it’s just a symbol?” he said.
“Everything’s just a symbol.” She removed Swallow from its scabbard.
It’s worth explicitly noting that there’s more to this than, “Ciri has a cat medallion and the picture for the new Witcher game also looks like a cat medallion!” In The Witcher 3’s “good” ending — the one where Ciri becomes a witcher — your last main quest before tackling the DLC involves delivering Zireael, Ciri’s illustrious sword from the novels. Do you know what Zireael means in Elder Speech? Swallow. (You can inscribe this into the sword if you want, or you can choose the Elder Speech for, “The flash that cuts through darkness, the light that breaks the night.” Regardless of the inscription, the sword itself is called Zireael.)
In the same way that this sword is quite literally a symbol for the beginning of Ciri’s life as a witcher, referencing one of the medallions she took from Bonhart in the new promo material feels like a deliberate choice. As she says herself, “Everything is a symbol” — but these two highly specific things are the only discernible symbols from the end of The Witcher 3 and the announcement of whatever the next Witcher game is. It helps that Ciri actually wears her cat medallion in The Witcher 3, too.
This is obviously just speculation, but it’s rational based on the information we’ve been given so far. Fans have been crying out for Ciri to become the series’ next protagonist ever since it was teased at the end of The Witcher 3, while even players who are less invested in the universe can recognize that Geralt already got the happy ending he deserved.
Who knows — maybe Ciri is the one who needs to race to find Geralt this time? Perhaps he gets a bit too jolly after she visits his vineyard in Blood and Wine, and, after several glasses of his finest Erveluce, accidentally wanders into a trap set by a Wild Hunt apologist. (This is obviously not going to happen, but it’s fun to think about.)
What matters is the cat medallion has way more possibilities to actually mean something than meets the eye. Maybe this game tells a story about an all-new witcher from the School of the Cat. Maybe the fact the pendant is buried signifies a Nightmare of the Wolf-esque collapse of Dyn Marv caravan, the new seat of the school (the old one was the aforementioned Stygga Castle). Maybe we’re miles off and it’s actually supposed to be a weird-looking dog inspired by Elden Ring’s messaging system.
Regardless of what it means, we’re getting a new Witcher game — the fact we’re able to speculate about what that might lead to with this much evidence for various thoughts and theories is exciting. It really should star Ciri, though.