The Witcher 3 Subsequent Gen Replace: three months on, I’m nonetheless not satisfied

Kath Santarin
10 Min Read

^ Keep tuned for our full video appraisal of The Witcher 3’s present state, filled with superb ultrawide footage!

The perfect little bit of PC gaming is having the velocity and energy to have the ability to whack the whole lot on Extremely and marvel as your rig effortlessly spits out a silky-smooth rendition of no matter sport it’s, with graphical options activated that might make the newest consoles wave a bit white flag and soften right into a puddle of liquid comfort.

The worst bit is when you may’t whack the whole lot on extremely, and so must Fiddle: endlessly tweaking a bewildering array of switches and sliders as a way to discover the proper stability between efficiency and visible constancy. Incessantly calibrating a bit of software program with all of the complexity of 1 that displays the standing of a nuclear reactor, not simply on your particular {hardware} configuration but additionally on your personal tolerances as a human being. Some folks don’t thoughts a little bit of display tearing if it unlocks some efficiency headroom. Others, like me, abhor it: it’s synonymous with “unplayable” so far as I’m involved. Some folks can take or depart raytracing. Me? If it’s there, I would like it turned on, in any other case I’ll be wincing each time a display area reflection rudely disappears once I dare to tilt the digital camera.

Geralt of Rivia in all his spectacular PC glory.

Now, that is all par for the course with high-end PC gaming: you pays some huge cash, you makes a whole lot of selections. Nevertheless it tends to solely be an annoyance with the newest video games, and notably graphically intensive ones at that. Older video games are often those you may crank to your coronary heart’s content material. The Witcher 3, for instance, which has by no means been thought-about a slouch within the graphics division, used to fortunately run on my PC with the whole lot on max, in 4K ultrawide, with out dropping a single body. And it regarded glorious whereas doing so, as a result of CDPR have a behavior of constructing their video games for tomorrow’s {hardware}.

Nutsack armour from The Witcher 3
Some of the divisive additions to the subsequent gen model is that this nutsack armour from the TV present, which I personally approve of, as a result of it means I get to put in writing “nutsack armour” in articles fairly legitimately.

Effectively, so far as 2015 motion RPG The Witcher 3 goes, tomorrow got here to an finish final December. Sadly, for these of us making an attempt to get pleasure from 2022 motion RPG The Witcher 3, tomorrow is a manner off. The clock has been reset. It’s now not a snug “whack the whole lot on Extremely+” sport, however an “incessant fiddling till you come to a begrudging compromise” sport. That is, frankly, distressing.

Let’s be clear: I’m not saying that the subsequent gen updates don’t look good. It seems to be nice. The Witcher 3 is a sport filled with gothic nooks, nobbly glass home windows, muddy puddles, and big our bodies of water surrounded by medieval towers and different pointy bits. It advantages vastly from the implementation of raytracing. However activating this flagship RTX function comes, in fact, at a large efficiency value. On consoles, it tanks efficiency to unacceptable sub-30fps ranges. On PC, again in December, the primary rollout of the subsequent gen replace completely obliterated framerates throughout the board, prompting many person complaints and a major variety of gamers to roll the replace again and restore the earlier, completely ample model.

Final gen Xbox model above, high-end PC model under. An train in how dramatic lighting can alter the temper of a scene, and in addition in how dimished the returns are when cranking up the constancy on a sport that already regarded implausible.

Fortunately the newest Witcher 3 patch, 4.02 on the time of writing, improves issues considerably: a much less intensive choice has been added to the raytracing suite, quite ludicrously including a efficiency mode to the standard mode, and the entire thing typically performs loads higher. For my cash, I’ve discovered that it makes Witcher 3 with raytracing a viable prospect now, whereas earlier than it appeared like we’d have to attend for 5000 collection GPUs to get it working correctly.

The brand new efficiency setting within the raytracing choices makes an enormous distinction.

Which, as I’ve mentioned, is simply the character of high-end PC gaming. Should you’re working the newest graphically intensive video games, you need to anticipate – even with essentially the most bleeding-edge {hardware} available on the market – to must do some tweaking as a way to hit the candy spot between constancy and efficiency in your specific {hardware}.

However The Witcher 3 isn’t one of many newest graphically intensive video games. I performed it on a launch PS4 nearly a decade in the past. And although I perceive the deserves of retaining the whole lot below the hood recent and updated, patching in assist for the newest GPU improvements, guaranteeing that the sport will nonetheless be a looker in 2034: I can’t assist however surprise if the positive factors are actually price it. If the improved constancy on provide is kind of enhanced sufficient to justify this enormous reset of the clock that begins ticking when a brand new system-busting sport is launched: a countdown to when the median PC spec catches as much as its ambitions, and everybody can get pleasure from it at its greatest.

Hierarch sq. within the Xbox One X model vs the present high-end PC model.

Are the consequence price it, in the long run? In my coronary heart of hearts, I don’t assume they’re. And I don’t need to be misunderstood right here: I believe real-time raytracing is among the most enjoyable options to hit the GPU area in years. It’s been one thing of a holy grail in online game graphics for many years – I bear in mind studying about early Quake demos of the tech in PC Gamer within the early 2000s – and to be dwelling at a time the place we’re on the cusp of it being the usual in how sport engines deal with shadowing and reflections is genuinely very cool. It might essentially change how sport worlds are designed. It might conceivably result in new gameplay experiences that consider the very nature of how mild behaves.

There’s clearly much more fantastic element being rendered within the dearer model of the sport, however with out an A/B comparability you’d scarcely discover the distinction whereas really having fun with the sport.

However within the case of The Witcher 3, it looks like we had one thing that regarded lovely and ran fantastically, and now it’s been meddled with. After a number of days of messing round with the settings on my machine, I believe I’ve acquired it to a spot the place I could make peace with how easily it runs vs how good it seems to be. In fact, I believe the very best and most stress-free compromise is solely to play it on the Xbox Collection X in efficiency mode. Which, when it comes to visible bells and whistles, isn’t far off what we had with the Xbox One X efficiency mode on the earlier model when working on this {hardware}. That’s the mad factor: The Witcher 3 was so prescient in its future-proofing that the final gen model pulled off a stunning 4K60 presentation on {hardware} that wasn’t even conceived of when it launched.

When the subsequent gen replace was introduced, I questioned out loud if The Witcher 3 even wanted one. Lots of people thought it was a silly query. However over three months because the debut of the brand new and improved sport, I’m nonetheless not satisfied. Ask me in 2033, I suppose.

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