Alright, with that out of the way – this next-gen version of The Witcher 3 is made up of mostly subtle feature improvements over the existing game. There are some quality of life changes here and there, some quests have been fixed, a selection of mods have been implemented to “raise the standards of the experience” and CDPR has even launched a photo mode, so you can correctly capture those amazing sunsets and special moments.
Obviously, the big talking points of this update are the visual improvements. On Xbox Series X, CDPR provided players with two options. There’s a performance mode prioritizing 60FPS gameplay, and then there’s the quality mode – with higher visual fidelity and better resolutions and textures, but with a target frame rate of 30FPS. Our experience with performance mode was mostly silky smooth, and while it’s focused on performance rather than graphics, it’s still a definite visual upgrade from what was previously.
As for the quality mode, this option introduces ray tracing – including global illumination and ambient occlusion – and it looks stunning, with light bouncing off surfaces and giving objects a fresh look. existing environments in whole new ways. That said, we also encountered a few bugs in quality mode in our pre-release build (crashes, flickering, and shadow issues), but we’ve been informed that a fix will hopefully be distributed before release for resolve “additional performance and quality improvements”. When everything was working as expected (and it was most of the time), everything was beautiful. Quality mode generally works well at 30FPS, although we did notice a few dips on occasion in our review build (which hopefully will also be fixed before launch), but even taking those dips into account, we We’re still impressed with what quality Mode has to offer here, especially in terms of the great ray-tracing features.
Beyond the graphical upgrades, you’ll find a curated selection of developer and fan mods. Some of them even improve character models and the environment – with visual enhancements such as game backgrounds, trees and vegetation. Others offer quality of life improvements such as options UI visibility toggle, new sprint options, and minimap fixes. CDPR has also gone so far as to add a new “alternate camera” when walking around as Geralt or riding Roach. Then there are improvements like the ability to survive fall damage from greater heights and a new quick sign throw feature. Collectively, it all just adds polish to this already amazing game and does a great job of making it better than it was when it hit consoles.
And that brings us to the “new” in-game quest content. Joining the “next-gen” upgrade is a special quest featuring unlockables “inspired by The Witcher Netflix series”. We won’t get into spoiler territory here, but it starts outside of The Devil’s Pit – located in Velen, not far from Hanged Man’s Tree. You will have to go to the mine where a surprise awaits you behind locked doors. It integrates seamlessly with all the other quests in the game and only makes The Witcher 3 an even greater experience. To top it off, the next-gen update includes a few other features like added voice language support for Korean and Chinese, and cross-platform progression – where players can upload saves to the cloud, then carry over their progress to another platform with their voucher. Old Games account. Definitely a handy feature if you find yourself jumping from platform to platform.
Revisiting The Witcher 3 after all the drama with CP2077 takes us back to a time when CD Projekt Red was an unstoppable force. Although we encountered some minor technical issues with quality mode on Xbox Series X|S prior to release, overall this free update for Witcher 3 is a fantastic package that does what was already a great experience. (with two marvelous extensions) one the best. If you haven’t played The Witcher 3 yet and love action RPGs, now is the perfect time to check it out. It’s undoubtedly one of the greatest games of all time, and if you’ve ever fallen in love with it, you’ll still have a blast reuniting with White Wolf in this latest update.
Note: This review of The Witcher 3: Next Gen is still “in progress” as we encountered some minor technical issues as part of our review build. As mentioned above, a patch should fix these issues in the next few days (potentially before the update is publicly released), so we hope to be able to revisit this review later in the week and provide a final score.