The tumultuous launch of CD Projekt Red’s hotly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 has done severe damage to the reputation of the studio. Once lauded for its reliability and consumer friendliness, CD Projekt Red has been faced with criticisms of false advertising, had the game withdrawn from the PlayStation Store, and even faces potential fines in Poland, where the developer is based.
With CDPR promising patches to fully realize the Cyberpunk 2077 experience as well as future DLCs, the studio’s future heavily relies on Cyberpunk eventually overcoming the reputation it gained when it launched in December of last year. If it’s going to do so, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s DLC needs to be the benchmark for Cyberpunk 2077.
The Witcher 3’s DLC are some of the most expansive recent RPGs have had to offer, extending the game world and telling intricate new stories, some of which were already set up in the main game. Hearts of Stone was the first expansion pack for The Witcher 3, and the premise alone shows just how ambitious Cyberpunk 2077’s story DLC needs to be. After taking up a relatively standard witcher contract, Geralt finds that the giant toad he was sent to kill was in fact a prince who had been transformed in fairy-tale fashion. The prince’s guards arrive, Geralt is shipped off for execution, and a mysterious man arrives with an offer that could save his life.
That man is Gaunter O’Dimm, who already appeared in the base game as a strange man Geralt meets early on in White Orchard while looking for Ciri and Yennifer. Many fans might have missed his introduction, which isn’t necessary for understanding the plot of Hearts of Stone. However, it does show that CD Projekt Red was likely planning the DLC’s story from the get-go. Hearts of Stone doesn’t follow from the main plot of The Witcher 3, however – in fact, it could stand alone as its own story entirely.
Hearts of Stone is a passion project in its own right. An adaptation of the Pan Twardowski folktale, with the devil and Twardowski as the basis for its main characters – Gaunter and Olgierd von Everec, who gained immortality from Gaunter at the price of his emotions, giving him a “heart of stone.” The expansion has everything from great classic monster fights to high stakes riddle contests.
The second expansion, Blood and Wine, allowed players to enter an entirely new area of The Witcher’s world, adding more than 20 hours of content to the game in a huge new region, the Duchy of Toussaint. Picturesque on the surface, the duchy is plagued by vampires, some with a personal connection to Geralt himself. The expansion has some of the hardest decisions in The Witcher 3, all with their own cascading consequences. It also includes the “Land of Fables,” a fairy tale land that remains one of the franchise’s most memorable locations.
These expansions didn’t just add a few extra quests to the game. They were independent stories with totally unique visual and storytelling tones that challenged players both in combat and as roleplayers, encouraging players to use their own intuition when getting to the bottom of their mysteries. Cyberpunk 2077 can’t just have DLC that patches up issues with the retail game, and its story DLC can’t simply try to add extra quests or experiences to the world. Cyberpunk’s DLC can’t just be cut content, it will need to tell ambitious self-sustaining stories that still make great use of returning characters if CD Projekt Red is going to go beyond damage control and give players truly exciting new experiences.
Cyberpunk 2077 is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series console versions in development.