The next-gen Witcher 3 is a great upgrade, whether you’re new or returning

Geralt looks at a distant village.

screenshot: CD Projekt Red / Kotaku

Almost seven years later, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt It doesn’t just hold up: it’s still above most competitors. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla It may be greater, and Horizon Forbidden West It might be nicer, but practically no other game combines magic, monsters, and grim politics together in an open-world game.A global adventure where every character and conflict is allowed to be the master of their own truth. New Free “Next Gen” upgrade for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S It doesn’t radically change calculus, but it does repackage it into something easier than ever to fall in love with.

The Witcher 3 is now Almost old as such Halo 3 was when Halo 5 It was launched, and just as importantly, it became a benchmark. An adaptation of a fantasy series by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, the game ostensibly revolves around a mutant monster-slayer named Geralt who is searching for his magical surrogate daughter named Ciri in an effort to save her from others.Earthly ghosts called The Wild Hunt. It’s just a workplace drama that revolves around the middle-An aging parent ties up loose ends and makes up with ex-boyfriends before retiring from the only thing they’re good at. Two massive expansions After launching the game, it doubled its size and achieved greater gains.

Save data transfers

I haven’t been able to use my old save data because the new co-save feature hasn’t been rolled out yet. Once it’s December 14th, CD Projekt Red says players will be able to transfer files without issue, including between the vanilla PS4 version and the full version, which isn’t currently the case.

While exploration and RPG tinkering are great, it’sIt is the distinguished writing and performances that embody the resigned dignity in the face of the endless difficulties that led to the spread of criticism Acclaim, sales in the tens of millions, and CD maker Projekt Red is destined to be seen as a first-rate studio. “Never has this land flowed with milk and honey,” says an early Marginalized character, “now it flows with blood.” It’s a gear symbol The Witcher 3 shifts from.

Read more: A year of articles about The Witcher 3

So what about the upgrade From December 14th? The first time I ran the next-gen version of Destiny 2 On PS5 I was legitimately surprised. Bungie’s fantastic space sandbox, which I’ve played hundreds of hours with over several years, felt like a brand new game. This is absolutely not the reaction I had when starting a PS5 version of The Witcher 3, which is a game I also spent a lot of time on older devices. It looks and flows better—the countryside is fuller, the puddles bigger, the tire rate smoother—but it feels more like staring at a fresh paint job than driving in a brand-new car.

Screenshot showing a river in Novigrad from The Witcher 3 on PS4.

Novigrad as seen in the PS4 version of The Witcher 3.
screenshot: CD Projekt Red / Kotaku

Screenshot showing a river in Novigrad from The Witcher 3 on PS5.

On PS5, the water and lighting effects have been improved, as well as the visual details in the background.
screenshot: CD Projekt Red / Kotaku

The most important part of the free upgrade is the placement of the new performance option. On Xbox Series X and PS5 (which I’m playing on), you can switch between ray tracing or 60fps. While ray tracing is great for shooting in the new photo mode, and does slightly but noticeably improve contrast, highlights, reflections, and the general feeling of fullness and vibrancy in a scene, it’s also somewhat over-the-top. Ray tracing results in a fair amount of stuttering, frequent frame rate drops, and an overall more interesting experience.

60fps, on the other hand, makes everything from combat to cutscenes look crisp without sacrificing much graphical fidelity. PC gamers have lived with this method for a while, but it remains the single biggest benefit of “next-gen” gaming to date, The Witcher 3 The console experience benefits greatly from it, especially when so much of the game’s charm and personality is based on a world that seems to run without interruption even when you’re not around.

You can finally run across Novigrad like a kid home from school without the game screaming.
GIF: CD Projekt Red / Kotaku

Next is the addition of 4K fan mods and other additional visual details. Smoke rising from the village chimneys in the distance. Foliage of all kinds is thicker, right down to random patches of roadside grass. The cobbled streets look a little more somber, while the bodies of water seem to splash and flow naturally. These are all subtle differences. Some of it was obvious thanks to all the time I spent with the original version of the game. Only so much gush was obtained on comparison shots.

However, they do produce a small but cumulative effect, and perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in Novigrad, a port city with some of the most memorable characters and questlines in the game. In the old version of The Witcher 3, the frame rate can really start to drop as people and streets pop in and out of view. In the PS5 version this is no longer a limitation. Geralt can run down back alleys without a hitch in Performance mode, while cobblestones and additional NPCs make the mall boisterous than ever.

Image for article titled 'Next-Gen' The Witcher 3 is a great upgrade, whether you're new or returning

screenshot: CD Projekt Red / Kotaku

Elsewhere, stock tweaks and the signature magic hotkeys continue their long undoing The Witcher 3RPG systems were notoriously ambiguous. There’s also a new armor quest line that I didn’t get, and some updated alternate quests for a few characters. Mostly I just enjoy messing around with the UI screen settings to keep the screen as minimalistic as possible while again hunting for ghosts at dusk. The main map, which used to be under siege by mission icons, is now by default largely empty outside of the main points of interest.

The Crows Perch in Velen, the notorious swift-Travel pain point early in the game, still bewildering outside Bloody Baron Fort. The third person camera remains challenging at times. And the new photo mode, while it’s hard not to pull out every 10 feet while replaying one of my favorite games, is light on modding options compared to those you’ll find in Sony’s first game.Arty game. Otherwise, there is little room for improvement at this point.

I felt the same way when I last stopped the game in 2019 during my second game. And while I wouldn’t bypass CDPR to come up with a few more patches down the road, including addressing things like some stuttering in ray tracing mode, the diminishing returns make the new-gen upgrade feel like it deserves a victory lap rather than something closer to a 2.0 update. I’ll take it. It’s free after all, and three hours of testing the update was all I needed to lose myself in 2015 again.

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