Game Update Review: Witcher 3 Wild Hunt Complete Edition (Next Gen Update)

Wow, we have a big one today! There’s so much to cover and I will likely only be able to cover so much. Having said that, let’s skip the pleasantries and jump right into the change log for PC and Console, PC only, and console only!

Update List for both PC & Next-Gen Exclusives

  • Added ray traced global illumination and ambient occlusion.
  • Additionally, PC players with compatible hardware have an additional option to turn on ray traced reflections and shadows.
  • Added various mods and mod-inspired content to the game to improve visuals and overall game quality. We’ve included some community-made favorites in addition to our own modifications in areas such as environment and cutscene improvements, realistic pavements, and many decoration upgrades.
  • Community-made and community-inspired mods include: The Witcher 3 HD Reworked Project by HalkHogan, HD Monsters Reworked by Denroth, Immersive Real-time Cutscenes by teiji25, Nitpicker’s Patch by chuckcash, and World Map Fixes by Terg500
  • Upscaled texture to 4K for various characters, including Geralt, Yennefer, Triss, Ciri, Eredin and more.
  • All main characters, including Geralt, now cast high-resolution self-shadowing even outside cutscenes. Additionally, hair clipping through armor as well as some other armor-clipping issues have been fixed.
  • Environmental improvements: Added a new weather type – “Gray Sky”, Updated sky textures, Vegetation and water improvements, Various mesh improvements, Improved some select VFX, and Updated global environmental lighting
  • Added AMD FidelityFX™ Super Resolution (FSR) 2.1
  • Added photo mode, allowing players to take stunning pictures within the world of The Witcher 3.
  • Added the option to pause the game during cutscenes.
  • Added an alternative camera option that’s closer to the player’s character and that reacts more dynamically to combat and movement. You can find this new setting in Options → Gameplay under Exploration, Combat, and Horseback Camera Distance.

Update List for PC Only:

  • Added “ULTRA+” graphical settings on PC, which significantly increases the visual fidelity of the game. The graphical settings available on ULTRA+ effect: Number of background characters, Shadow quality, Grass density, Texture quality, Foliage visibility range, Terrain quality, Water quality, and Detail level
  • Added DLSS 3 support. Available only on compatible hardware.

Update List for Next-Gen Only:

  • Improved the overall quality of graphics on next-gen consoles. Including enhanced textures, improved fidelity, shadow quality, greater draw distances and crowd density.
  • Ray Tracing Mode — provides ray-traced global illumination and ambient occlusion with dynamic resolution scaling targeting 30 FPS for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.Performance Mode — ensures smoother gameplay targeting 60 FPS with dynamic resolution scaling for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
  • The Xbox Series S version has no ray-tracing features. Quality Mode provides increased resolution and better image fidelity targeting 30 FPS, whereas Performance Mode targets 60 FPS and prioritizes smoother gameplay over visual quality.
  • Implemented the use of adaptive triggers and haptic feedback on PS5 DualSense controllers.
  • Added Activity Cards for PS5.
  • Online Features
  • Added a cross-progression feature between platforms. Your latest saves will be automatically uploaded to the cloud so you can easily pick up where you left off on other platforms. Cross-progression provides the latest save for every save type. This feature becomes available after you log into your account.
  • By signing up to MY REWARDS in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, players can receive: Swords of the Nine-Tailed Vixen, White Tiger of the West Armor, Dol Blathanna Armor Set, Roach Card.
  • Detailed information on how to redeem the rewards will be available from Dec 14th, 1 AM CET at thewitcher.com/my-rewards.
  • Added a new side quest, In The Eternal Fire’s Shadow, in Velen. Rewards are inspired by Neftlix’s The Witcher series.
  • Added an alternative appearance for Dandelion inspired by Netflix’s The Witcher series. You can enable it in Options → Gameplay.
  • Added an alternative Nilfgaardian Armor set inspired by Netflix’s The Witcher series. You can enable it in Options → Gameplay.
  • Added Chinese and Korean voice-over. Availability on consoles varies by region.
  • Various improvements and changes to Russian voice-over, including fixes for accelerated / slowed lines in the vast majority of scenes.
  • Added a Quick Sign Casting option. It allows signs to be switched and cast without opening the radial menu. You can find it in Options → Gameplay.
  • Added a new default map filter. The new filter hides some icons such as “?” and boat icons in order to reduce icon clutter on the map. These icons can be turned back on with the “All” map mode toggle.
  • Adjusted the minimum height for fall damage, allowing the player to survive falls from higher heights.
  • Herbs can now be instantly looted with a single interaction – without the additional loot window.
  • Added options that dynamically hide the minimap and quest objectives when not in combat or using Witcher senses. You can find it in Options → Video → HUD Configuration → Hide minimap during Exploration and Hide objectives during Exploration.
  • Added the option to slow walk when playing with a controller. You can now slow walk by lightly pushing the left stick forward.
  • Added an alternative sprint mode option when playing with a controller. It’s activated by tapping the left stick. You can find it in Options → Control Settings.
  • Added an option to make target-lock unnaffected by camera inversion. You can find it in Options → Control Settings.
  • Improved the radial menu so bombs, bolts and pocket items can now be switched dynamically without opening the inventory.
  • Added the option to scale the font size for subtitles, NPC chatter and dialogue choices. You can find it in Options → Video → HUD Configuration.
  • Added various other small fixes, tweaks, and quality of life changes, including a few secrets to be discovered by players.
  • Added the mod Full Combat Rebalance 3 by Flash_in_the_flesh which includes balance changes and various fixes to gameplay. We took a curated approach to this mod, with some elements further tweaked from what you’ll find in the mod by default, while other elements were omitted.
  • Scavenger Hunt: Wolf School Gear – Fixed an issue where the chest at the Signal Tower couldn’t be opened.
  • From Ofier’s Distant Shores – Fixed an issue where the diagram in the chest at the bandit’s hideout could be missing.
  • Hard Times – Fixed an issue where Geralt couldn’t talk or give the letter to the blacksmith.
  • Swift as the Western Winds – Fixed an issue where the quest could sometimes fail despite winning the horse race.
  • Echoes of the Past – Fixed an issue where, after defeating the Foglets, the quest could get stuck and it wouldn’t be possible to talk to Yennefer.
  • Wine Wars – Fixed an issue where the quest couldn’t be completed if the player destroyed one of the required monster nests during exploration.
  • Fixed an issue where clearing the Ruined Inn Abandoned Site situated on the southern shore of Ard Skellig was not possible in certain scenarios.
  • Fixed an issue where the Grandmaster Wolven Set wouldn’t require Mastercrafted items.
  • Various small fixes to quests and cutscenes.

Upgrade Trailer:

Initial Thoughts:

For this review, I won’t be covering the game, per se. There are reviews for Witcher 3 that have been out for at least five years. The game is just as fantastic now as it has been all along. There are, however, extra differences in the gameplay and content that we can cover quickly. First of all, there is now Netflix content by way of costumes and another quest. I didn’t get into any of that in my play of this. I focused exclusively on the visual differences. Additionally, they have fixed some control mechanics that people had taken issue with before like horseback riding. But you can adjust controls as you’d like in the menu so you can really make it your own. 

From the moment this game was loaded up, the opening production company screens were even incredibly crisp. This is not something that I typically care about, but I was surprised. I certainly didn’t expect the logos and arbitrary legal text to be in 4K too. But in hindsight, I suppose that it needs to be readable on a 4K display and not be tiny hard to read text. Anyway, onto the actual meat and potatoes of the game.

Once I got to the initial opening meditation menu screen I was able to see so much more than before. A lot has changed since first playing the game half a decade ago. Now I was able to make out the woman pacing in the house beyond Geralt. “Pacing” might be the wrong word, she was slowly walking around in the house. Geralt and the fire and other subtleties in the foreground also looked great. I was definitely excited to see what the rest of the visuals had in store for me.

After the intro cutscene, the game told me I could change several aspects of the visuals. Specifically, I could change up the quality, giving preference to performance instead of visual fidelity. I could also do the inverse and prioritize the visuals and the gameplay run at a higher frame rate. So I decided that I should split the difference between the two for my testing. I then played half with visual fidelity at 30FPS and the other half of the time I played 60FPS, both of which were a treat for their own various reasons. It will definitely be up to you as to which suits you.

When I was going through the various features in the menu, I was having a blast testing things out. One of the more interesting aspects to me is a feature that is turned off by default. If you feel like something is off, it may be this one setting. CD Projekt Red has decided to turn off upscaling enemies. Once I discovered this I left it on no matter which of the two visual settings I was using. I wanted the whole game to look cohesive and having enemies that had faces that matched in quality to the main characters made sense.

To touch back on the cutscenes for a moment, I felt like those are the weakest part of this upgrade. The cutscenes must be pre-rendered because they definitely show their age. It was obvious because they are slightly grainy. It may only be obvious to those of us with larger screens. For example, I was able to see the little blocks of compression on my 58” screen. Maybe the cutscenes were upscaled from 1080p to 4K? But they were clearly not originally rendered in 4K.11

Now let me get out some of my favorite aspects of the visuals; fun things that I noticed. They took the time to show off great things such as inconsistencies in clothing. This could’ve been anything like frayed edges and/or small holes. I could even see on the chainmail where each metal loop was sealed shut. This means I could even tell where there were missing chain mail loops due to battle and age. The leather in the game has a life-like looking texture as it should. This comes complete with noticeable scuffs and creases.

I spent so much time looking at the detail in everyone’s faces. Including pausing and looking at enemies’ faces since I enabled that key feature. Even battle scars looked so real that you could sense the pain in them. You could see the depth of Geralt’s scar which gave it a sense of time and history. All of these details even show up in gameplay in real-time.

Once I was done romping around in the world feeling out the new controls, I decided on the following. My permanent settings in the game would be to leave on the upscaled enemies. I would also ultimately decide to leave on the 60FPS visual setting. My Xbox Series, 4K HDR 58″ tv, and this game with these settings on were made for each other. This really has me jazzed for the remake of The Witcher 1 remake. It will likely look so much better than this since it will be made from scratch using Unreal Engine 5.

Final Thoughts:

They dropped this update right in time for the holiday break! I think this was the best possible idea as it puts W3 in a place to compete with newly released games. Best of all CD Projekt Red released it as a free update at no cost to the end user. All next gen upgrades should be this way, but I understand we’ll likely have to give it time before that happens. At some point, it will be cheaper for a company to release a next-gen update than a whole new game or sequel. Until then, I hope you all have a great holiday season, playing one of the biggest updates I’ve ever seen any game have (across several platforms)!

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