The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Half-Glass Gaming readers probably know that I was recently waffling about whether or not I should start a fresh save in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the upteenth time. As it turns out, 2022 won’t be a year in which I give into that particular temptation, because The Witcher 3 is back, and The Witcher 3 is a far, far superior open-world fantasy RPG.

See, CD Projekt Red decided to release one last major update for The Witcher 3 to make it feel a little more like it belongs on the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S rather than the PS4 and Xbox One.

Now, as part of a string of bad decisions that I made a while back, I downgraded my beloved PS4 copy to a Switch version, so I almost missed out on checking out the free PS4-to-PS5 upgrade. Thankfully, CD Projekt Red very graciously gifted me a fresh copy, allowing me to check out the next-gen upgrade a few days early.

First of all, I just have to say that The Witcher 3 is still an incredible game, and I found myself getting helplessly sucked back into its twisted medieval world.

The Witcher 3 - Yennefer

But also, while the next-gen upgrade doesn’t add a whole lot in the way of content (there’s a new quest line and some new armor), it works really hard to be the last quality-of-life upgrade this aging RPG will ever need. Some of the features are great; some aren’t my cuppa. If you’ve very recently bounced off of this game, you might not find a lot worth coming back for. However, if you’re like me and haven’t played the game since 2016-ish, the update makes a good excuse to play this tired old dog again. Especially in a holiday gaming season that’s weirdly sparse on content in general.

So yeah, getting to relive Geralt’s spread-eagle bath with better lighting and oh-so-slightly improved texture quality is like Christmas come early, but it’s the little quality-of-life changes that really make this a welcome return.

The Witcher 3 - Bath

There are two features that I appreciate the hell out of. First up is the game’s Performance mode, which locks the game at a delightful 60fps. I didn’t run any technical experiments to count my exact framerate or anything, but as far as I can tell, this stays hard-locked at that 60fps — I didn’t notice even the slightest stutter, even in areas where there’s a lot of NPC traffic or swarms of monsters.

Admittedly, this comes with the downside of having to toggle off Ray Tracing mode. And after running the game in 60fps, I promise you that toggling Ray Tracing back on is going to be a huge disappointment. The game runs poorly in this mode, and it’s nearly constantly stuttering and jittering. I don’t think you’re even getting 30fps, and even if you hit that occasionally, it’s definitely not constant. (Again, I didn’t run any technical tests to confirm this, so I’m just eyeballing it.)

However, my second appreciated feature does justify the toggle. The game finally has its own Photo Mode. Sure, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of its younger sibling Cyberpunk 2077‘s robust Photo Mode, but I’m honestly not one who takes advantage of those sorts of things all that often. Let me move the camera and hide the UI — that’s all I really need to be happy. And Photo Mode here is rudimentary but sufficient. So if you’re snapping a lot of photos, you might toggle the game to Ray Tracing mode, then take a screenshot, then toggle it back to Performance mode for the actual gameplay.

The Witcher 3 - Photo Mode

There are some other features that are simple but appreciated. For example, in previous versions of The Witcher 3, Geralt’s Witcher Sense has a fisheye effect. This can be toggled off in the menu, but in the new update, it’s toggled off by default (but it’s still an option to toggle it back on, for those who want it). It’s a small thing, but it’s a good choice, because this fisheye effect can cause nausea for some folks.

Now, I haven’t played The Witcher 3 in a really long time, so some of the changes whizzed right by me. There’s apparently something about a new “Gray Sky” weather type, which I guess is kind of just the stormy weather without the rain? But it’s a nice gesture, and, I mean, the sky in this game is drop-dead gorgeous.

The Witcher 3 - Sky

Also, fall damage was adjusted and you can now pause the game during cutscenes.

If you’re into this sort of thing, the camera is also zoomed in a bit closer by default. Personally, I toggled this back to the old setting pretty quickly. I’m more of a zoomed-out guy. But if you’re into the zoomed-in thing, well, this update has yet another feature that you’re going to love.

It would have been nice to get a third expansion, or even just a few extra quests to tantalize Witcher veterans to come back for another round, but what’s here is still pretty nice. And to be honest, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be binging this game for the rest of 2022. Maybe I’ll even finish the Blood and Wine expansion this time, which is the only part of the game I’ve never completed.

Look, The Witcher 3 is still The Witcher 3. It hasn’t changed substantially with the new update, but it’s still a phenomenal game that’s worth getting lost in. And considering this update is free for owners of the game who want to leap from PS4 to PS5 or Xbox One to Xbox Series X|S (sorry, Nintendo fans), there’s not much to complain about here.

Disclaimer: I was given a review code for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition on PS5, but the opinions expressed in this article are my own.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x