Almost seven years later, The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt doesn’t just hold its own: it’s still head and shoulders above most competitors. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla could be bigger, and Forbidden Horizon West could be prettier, but hardly any other game marries magic, monsters, and dark politics in an open-global adventure where each character and conflict is allowed to be the master of their own truth. A new free “Next-gen” upgrade for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S doesn’t fundamentally change that calculus, but repackages it into something that’s easier than ever to fall in love with.
The Witcher 3 is now almost as old as Halo 3 was when Halo 5 launched, and became an equally important touchstone. Adapted from the fantasy series by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, the game is apparently about a mutant monster slayer named Geralt searching for his magical surrogate daughter named Ciri to try and save her from the others.mundane specters called The Wild Hunt. It’s as much a workplace comedy-drama about a mid-elderly parent working out details and reconciling with old friends before retiring from the one thing they are good at. Two massive extensions after the game launched, it doubled in size and delivered even bigger payouts.
Record data transfers
I was unable to use my old save data because a new cross-save feature is not yet available. Once it’s December 14, CD Projekt Red says players will be able to transfer files smoothly, including between the vanilla PS4 version and the full edition, which is currently not the case.
While RPG exploration and tinkering is great, it’ss top-notch writing and performance that captures resigned dignity in the face of endless hardship that has led to widespread criticism acclaim, tens of millions of sales and creator CD Projekt Red is considered a top notch studio. “This land never flowed with milk and honey, and now it flows with blood,” said a throwaway character at the start. It’s emblematic of a gear The Witcher 3 goes from.
Read more: A year of articles on The Witcher 3
So what about upgrading released on December 14? The first time I booted the next-gen version of Destiny 2 on PS5 I was legitimately surprised. Bungie’s beautiful alien sandbox, which I’d played for hundreds of hours over several years, felt like a brand new game. That’s not at all the reaction I got upon launching the version PS5 from The Witcher 3, a game I also spent a lot of time in on older hardware. It looks and flows better – the countryside is fuller, the puddles bigger, the frame rate smoother – but it’s a lot more like looking at a new paint job than driving in a whole new car.
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The most important part of the free upgrade is a new performance option mode. On Xbox Series X and PS5 (which I play on), you can switch between ray tracing or 60fps. While ray tracing is great for taking photos in the new photo mode and slightly but noticeably improves lighting contrast, reflections and the overall feeling of fullness and vibrancy in the scene, it’s also kind of broken. . Enabling ray tracing results in a decent amount of stutter, frequent frame rate drops, and a more jarring experience overall.
60fps, on the other hand, makes everything from combat to cutscenes look sharp without sacrificing too much graphical fidelity. PC gamers have lived this way for a while, but it’s still the biggest advantage of “next-gen” gaming so far, and the Witcher 3 the console experience benefits immensely, especially when much of the game’s charm and personality rests on a world that feels like it’s running non-stop even when you’re not there.
The next step is the addition of 4K fan mod textures and other additional visual details. Smoke billows from village chimneys in the distance. Foliage of all kinds is thicker, down to random patches of roadside grass. Cobbled streets look a little darker, while bodies of water seem to splash and flow a little more naturally. These are all minute differences. Some of these were apparent thanks to all my time with the original version of the game. Many were only gleaned by browsing through comparison screenshots.
They produce a small but cumulative effect, however, and perhaps nowhere is it more pronounced than in Novigrad, a fortified seaside town home to some of gaming’s most memorable characters and questlines. In the old version of The Witcher 3, the framerate can really start to drop as people and streets appear and disappear. In the PS5 version, this is no longer a restriction. Geralt can sprint through alleys without a hitch in performance mode, while wet cobblestones and extra NPCs make the mall livelier than ever.
Elsewhere, inventory changes and magic Sign shortcut buttons continue the long process of decluttering The Witcher 3the once notoriously obscure RPG systems. There’s also a new armor quest line that I didn’t get access to, and some updated alternate looks for a few of the characters. Most of the time, I like to tinker with the UI display settings to keep the screen as minimalistic as possible while again chasing ghosts at dusk. The main map, once beleaguered by quest icons, now defaults to mostly empty outside of major points of interest.
The Crows Perch in Velen, a famous fast-travel pain point at the start of the game, still surprisingly stays out of the Bloody Baron’s Fort. The third-person camera is also sometimes capricious. And the new Photo Mode, while hard not to pop out every 10ft while replaying one of my favorite games, is light on DIY options compared to those you’ll find in a Sony first -partistic game. Otherwise, there is little room for improvement at this stage.
I felt the same way when I last put the game on in 2019 on my second playthrough. And while I wouldn’t put it beyond CDPR to offer a few more fixes down the road, including fixing issues like stuttering in ray-traced mode, diminishing returns make the next-gen upgrade looks like a deserved victory lap rather than something closer to a 2.0 refresh. I’ll take it. It’s free after all, and three hours of testing the update was all I needed to get lost in 2015’s GOTY again.