Analysis | The Witcher 3 manages to get even better on the new generation.
I still remember the reaction I got when playing The Witcher 3 for the first time in 2015. My PC was brand new, built especially to enjoy the game in the best quality possible. Seeing Ciri debut in the series in that training at Kaer Morhen, hearing again Doug ___le’s epic voice acting for Geralt, exploring White Orchard and hunting the Gryphon using traps and preparation, were days and days fully immersed in that world.
Now, seven years later, I’ve tested the new version of CD Projekt Red’s magnum opus on PS5 and many of those feelings have returned. If, on the one hand, having played on PC, many of the new graphics didn’t make a huge difference to me, on the other hand, the inclusion of mods, quality of life improvements and new camera and HUD options are enough news to justify a few more. dozens of hours in this universe.
Resolution and FPS for consoles, Ray Tracing for PC
The next-gen upgrade content is extensive, with additions on all fronts of the game. For most people who will be playing on consoles, what will stand out the most is the massive gain in resolution and frames per second compared to the Xbox One and PS4 versions.
There are two graphics modes. In Performance, the focus is on 60 frames per second, with dynamic resolution in 4K. Even focused on performance, this mode still delivers excellent visual quality, since, according to the CD devs themselves, it targets the “Ultra” graphics options of the PC. Fidelity mode focuses on visual quality and adds ray tracing to make lighting more dynamic and realistic. There isn’t the full range of effects available on PC, such as global lighting and reflections through Ray Tracing, so the result is far from being more effective than the frame gain in performance mode, since here the game will run at just 30 frames per second. second.
For those playing on PC, where I’ll be testing the game soon, there’s a new max mode for the graphics and several Ray Tracing options. To make it easier for heavy machines to do their job, there are several image reconstruction options, including new versions of Nvidia’s DLSS and also AMD’s FSR. In comparative videos already available on the internet, it is possible to see that it is another visual level, representing the definitive version. Even so, anyone who played Geralt’s epic adventure only on PS4 should be surprised by the great result obtained on new generation consoles as well, since there are still new textures for the main characters, monsters, improvements in the sky and several other small additions. .
Graphics are nice, but what most impacted my experience on this new journey was the addition of some popular mods from the community. Some of them are for graphical improvements as well, but others focus on gameplay and menus.
Full Combat Rebalance 3, or FCR3 for those familiar with it, was created by a former CD Projekt developer who even worked on The Witcher 3. As the name implies, it focuses on combat and tweaks various items, spells and bugs , ensuring a more focused experience throughout the entire campaign, including balance changes to some gear sets that left Geralt virtually invincible, and buffs to signs and potions that were previously mostly useless. CD Projekt Red says in the update notes that it omitted some changes and made changes to others to ensure the best possible result, that is, it was not just the incorporation of the mod per se, but an adaptation work that paid off.
Another highlight is the mod that changes the way the map works in the game, hiding that infinity of question marks, which gives that checklist impression, a design that was quite saturated in the last generation. With the dots hidden, exploration is much more organic and it’s cool to come across some surprises without being guided to them. All of this can be modified back to its original form, of course, but it’s a great option for anyone who wants to play differently this time around.
In addition to mods, CD also made several changes of its own. There’s a new camera mode, for example, that zooms in on Geralt’s shoulder. For comparison, imagine something like Sony’s latest games like God of War. This new view changes the impression of the world when exploring and makes combat different, as it reduces your field of vision. There are pros and cons, but the cool thing is that you can activate it or go back to the original mode at any time through the menu.
And speaking of the menu, it is now also possible to hide part of the HUD while exploring. I was disappointed with this option because I expected more. It’s not very dynamic, as in other games it’s possible to turn the HUD on and off with a touch of the controller, while here it disappears until you enter combat, and ends up being useful only if your goal is to explore completely blindly.
Another novelty that does not convince is the photo mode. It’s great that this option is finally available natively in the game, but the range of options is minimal. You can’t control the character’s posture or position on the screen, for example, something quite standard in the most recent games. For those who played on the PC and used Nvidia’s Ansel, the photo mode ends up being obsolete and even kind of useless.
The list of news is long and mentioning them all here would make the text too long. However, one last highlight goes to the new climate, called here “Gray Sky”. This new variation causes a portion of fog to appear on the map and makes the environment much darker. The inspiration here was clearly from the setting of the first The Witcher and the result was very good, especially around cities. Those who played the classic will feel nostalgia hitting their chest.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition brings a host of improvements to CD Projekt’s already excellent game. The new resolution and more frames per second on consoles or Ray Tracing on PC are the most obvious highlights, but it goes much further. The incorporated mods and changes in menus and camera made by the developer itself add new layers to the journey and make the return for a few more dozens of hours inevitable!
- Significant resolution and frame gain on consoles
- Good use of DualSense on PS5
- Built-in mods greatly improve quest quality
- New “Gray Sky” weather brings nostalgia to longtime series players
- Many new options in menus for gameplay and interface
- New HUD hide mode is more simplistic than it seems
- Photo mode without many options
A PS5 copy of the game was provided by CD Projekt for the preparation of this review.