CD Projekt Red Environmental Designer Jonas Mattson thinks Bethesda's Skyrim is a great game, especially for people who like "playing around quite casually."
When you think about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you probably don't think "casual." With its massive open world, competing factions, huge array of NPCs, widely varied environments, hundreds of dungeons and deep, flexible character creation options, Skyrim is by most measures a full-on, heavyweight RPG. Unless you work at CD Projekt Red, that is, where they apparently think that it's a fun way to pass some time in between rounds of Bejeweled.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be set in a huge open world, much like Bethesda's famed Elder Scrolls series, but CDPR is taking a different approach to the concept. "I am a fan of Skyim, a lot of us love Skyim. But while they are doing their thing, like open world, jumping and playing around quite casually, we are doing it a little bit differently," Mattson told Gameranx. "We are heavily story driven and open world. This hasn't really been done before and we want to prove that it can be done."
Rather than other games, Mattson said The Witcher 3 takes inspiration from real-life cities like Amsterdam as well as films like Robin Hood (the one with Russell Crowe), Braveheart and even Snow White. "In our office we made a huge poster with tones of color and screen shots of different films like Game of Thrones," he said. "We know what kind of tones we want. Composition and color is very important for us, to get the tone right. It adds to the cinematic experience."
In all fairness, I don't think Mattson is actually suggesting that Skyrim is a "casual game" in the usual sense (although it's a funny thought), but rather that Bethesda's approach to storytelling is less focused than CDPR's. The Elder Scrolls games are basically settings in which you can do whatever you want, while The Witcher has been a much more directed experience; trying to bring the two together is a risky move, especially for a studio taking its first run at an open-world game, but if it works it could be flat-out amazing.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is being developed for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, and is expected out sometime in 2014.