As if players needed more to do in the monumentally massive The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, developer CD Projekt Red has announced (via Facebook) two free DLC morsels that are coming to all platforms this week. This week’s additions include a new contract for Geralt to track down a missing group of miners from a small village on Skellige, and a new look for Yennefer, a powerful sorceress, love interest for Geralt, and mother figure for Ciri.
These are the second pair out of 16 free mini-DLC expansions the developer has promised to roll out after the game’s release. These will all be freely available to every player, regardless of what version of the game — physical or digital — that they purchased, or whether they have bought the season pass. The first two, shared immediately following the game’s arrival, were a Beard and Hairstyle Set so Geralt can try out some new looks; and a fancy set of Temerian armor, which includes matching armor for your horse, Roach.
The latter’s inclusion of horse armor is likely a knowing wink to gaming fans about the infamous first DLC module for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion in 2006, which for $2.50 added a set of cosmetic armor skins for your horse. 2006 was a simpler time, before “freemium,” “in-app purchases,” and “microtransactions” had flooded the gaming lexicon. While developers had been releasing PC game expansions for years, these were in discrete, substantial chunks, such as Tales of the Sword Coast for Baldur’s Gate. The greater connectivity of the last generation’s consoles was allowing publishers to experiment with smaller, more frequent additions. The initial outrage over charging players for such a minor and cosmetic addition to the game sparked a formative debate about the still-evolving role of DLC in modern gaming, and “horse armor” has become a shorthand for overpriced and unnecessary DLC.
In addition to the 16 minor additions that everyone gets for free, CD Projekt Red also has two major expansions in the works that will add a meaty 30-plus hours of story to the already enormous game. The first, Hearts of Stone, is set to arrive in October, and will take place in the city of Oxenfurt and its surrounding wildernesses. The second, larger expansion, Blood and Wine is due in the first quarter of 2016 and will add an entirely new region to the game. Both DLC will be available individually, or can be preordered now as part of an Expansion Pass bundle for $25. Contrary to popular assumptions about greedy publishers, CD Projekt Red has been insistent that fans should not purchase the Expansion Pass until they are already confident that they enjoy the game and want more of it.
“While we’re offering the Expansion Pass now, we want to make one thing clear: Don’t buy it if you have any doubts,” explained studio co-founder Marcin Iwiński. “Wait for reviews or play The Witcher and see if you like it first. As always, it’s your call.”