Announced during an otherwise dull financial results conference streamed on Twitch, CD Projekt Red announced a minor surprise today. Their long-awaited Gwent singleplayer campaign has grown into a separate and self-contained game all of its own. Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales is its new, Gwent-free name, and while obviously related to the free-to-play card game, the company are calling it a lengthy RPG in its own right. As such, it will be sold as a standalone retail game.
During the conference, CD Projekt Red were keen to emphasise that Thronebreaker is an RPG first and a card game second. They said it will offer over thirty hours of story with the usual Witcher-style moral decisions to be made, with combat and other such moments of 'action' resolved through Geralt's favourite card game. I'm immediately reminded of the old 1997 Magic: The Gathering game by Microprose, which was a sprawling RPG with dungeons, monsters, bosses and more that just happened to use the famous CCG as its combat engine. I could stand another of those.
CD Projekt also said that while Thronebreaker is obviously aimed at existing Gwent fans, they hope to appeal to fans of The Witcher series who are looking for more stories set in its grim and grimy world of fantastical medieval politics. We got a peek at what Thronebreaker had to offer last year (including confirmation that the writer of the excellent Bloody Baron quest-line from The Witcher 3 is involved), but it sounds like it has far outgrown its original concept. If nothing else, it's nice that Thronebreaker will still exist even if Gwent fizzles out at some point down the line.
There's no release date or price set for Thronebreaker yet, although you can see some early screenshots on its GOG store page here, still using the old title.
Credit to the eagle-eyed folks at the Gwent Reddit for spotting this and gathering clips from the conference.