Seven years have passed since CD Projekt Red's The Witcher 3 baffled the gaming world. The deep character arcs adapted from the books, fascinating storytelling, astonishing visuals, and masterful game design came together to form a rare triumph. With over 200 Game of The Year awards, the game not only touched the more artsy side of gaming fandom but also earned a permanent place among the hearts of regular gamers. The game remains relevant today and will stand the test of time.
However, seven years is a long time, especially for a medium so reliant on technical development. In December, the game got a next-gen update for modern systems. Do these changes make The Witcher worth a revisit? And how does the first-time experience hold up for new players?
At the time, The Witcher 3's vast open world and intriguing art design made it a graphical powerhouse, but it has been left behind by the latest consoles. The update brings enhanced visuals, upgraded textures, and significant improvements to models that take advantage of the power of the new hardware.
Community mods are still under consideration, but the game currently supports two different experiences with performance and quality modes on consoles. Performance mode offers 4K resolution and 60 fps framerate but turns off the ray-tracing. The quality mode ups the visual quality with ray-traced shadows and reflections, but the resolution and framerate are capped at 1440p and 30 fps. On a PC with sufficient power and hardware, both ray-tracing and 60 fps are available, and the game looks a treat.
With RTX on or off, from the war-torn countryside of Velen to the shores and snowy mountains of Skellige to the bustling free city of Novigrad and the royal palace of Vizima, the open world looks beautiful. Graphically, the update is a proper credit to the game.
Gameplay upgrades in remasters vary from developer to developer. But CD Projekt Red, barring the Cyberpunk 2077 fiasco, has always been fan-oriented, and several community suggestions and mods were incorporated into the latest version of The Witcher 3.
The most impactful might be the ability to customise the camera's point-of-view, shifting to a closer perspective that enhances the masterful combat and exploration while making the experience feel new and unique.
There are some nice quality-of-life changes too, the most significant being the ability to pause the game in cutscenes and an easier option to pick up herbs (which returning players will surely be thankful for). The update also introduces a new way to cast spells, which could be handy for players who still need to explore that system to its fullest. There are many slight modification options for the gameplay to tailor the game to your preferences. Most of these changes may be small, but they provide a general improvement to the experience that is the best part of the update and is perhaps the main factor for its success.
Though CD Projekt Red is trying to put the horrendous Cyberpunk launch behind it, some of those old kinks linger in The Witcher 3 update. The patch came with tons of bugs. It crashed every now and then and there were many weird glitches. As before, the memes came out in force for the company.
Hotfixes have since restored a bit of the former glory of the game, but the optimisation of ray tracing is still disastrous. The game looks exemplary with the option turned on, but my 3060TI GPU struggled to maintain a smooth frame rate between 30-40 fps at a resolution of 1080p with ray tracing. In terms of optimisation, it is a significant disappointment, especially when other titles from its era run more or less smoothly on the same hardware. Still, it is visually stunning with the added feature and will still lead to a profound gameplay experience.
Players rarely get new quests for a single-player game after seven years. But the update does have a tie-in quest, called 'In the Eternal Fire's Shadow', that connects to the popular Netflix TV version of The Witcher. The reward is a nifty set of Henry Cavill's armour from the series. For a quest that only serves to tout the connection to the show, the 30-40 minutes worth of content is a surprisingly intriguing diversion once you reach the appropriate conditions to play it.
The Witcher 3 next-gen update definitely gives returning players something to liven up a revisit. People who previously bought the game will get the update for free, while new players can get the complete edition for 150-500 BDT on steam in the cheapest regions. It's a steal for new players looking to get into one of the modern classics that has been kitted out with the latest modern amenities. For new and old players, The Witcher 3 remastered edition is a great excuse to toss a few coins as a witcher.
This article is part of Stripe, bdnews24.com's special publication focusing on culture and society from a youth perspective.