2012: A yr after CD Projekt Purple launched The Witcher 2, the studio adopted with the Enhanced Version, an infinite update with the patch notes to show it. A 102 merchandise changelog detailed every thing from corrected merchandise descriptions to “fastened reverb in sewers in Chapter 3,” on high of a prolonged record of extra substantial additions: new quests, cinematics, and ending sequences. A fledgling CD Projekt had performed the identical factor with the primary Witcher in 2008, and although I can not discover it on-line, I swear I as soon as pored over a multi-page PDF describing each change made to that first journey. I do not know if any developer is extra dedicated to documenting the minutia of modifications to an enormous game (apart from Bay12 Video games with Dwarf Fortress, which is in a league of its personal). 

“Even for Cyberpunk, that is one thing that hasn’t actually modified,” says communications director Robert Malinowski. “We do not abandon video games. The Enhanced Version of The Witcher was made for a cause, as properly. It was a game that was good, but it surely might’ve been higher.” 

The Witcher 3, which I used to be enjoying as I talked to Malinowski about CD Projekt’s first RPG, was greater than good. It was a masterpiece in 2015, and made higher by a yr of updates and expansions. It by no means formally bought its Enhanced Version, although, and I want CD Projekt had used the title right here, for outdated time’s sake. As a result of The Witcher 3’s next-gen update is rather more than a shiny coat of ray tracing.

Ray tracing could even be the final cause to care about this update. Open air, you are unlikely to even discover it is on, exterior of the dramatic framerate hit it causes as in each different game; most of The Witcher 3’s out of doors lighting, together with its breathtaking pink and orange sunsets, stays unchanged. On the PlayStation 5 model I previewed, ray tracing and 4K output undoubtedly wasn’t definitely worth the framerate trade-off of “High quality” mode, dropping the framerate to a stodgy 30 fps. I am hopeful on PC that we can’t must make that compromise, and with the precise tweaks these with high-end {hardware} can have maintain The Witcher 3’s framerate at a minimal 60 fps where it belongs. 

I did spot a couple of real looking touches with ray tracing enabled, just like the solar’s speckled reflection on the grey waters of Crookback Lavatory, however that is it. Indoors, the ray traced lighting is extra pronounced, with directional illumination coming in by way of home windows. There are some ray tracing options that may solely be obtainable on PC, however I do not anticipate these to be revelatory, both. That is clearly a game retrofitted for ray tracing somewhat than being designed with it in thoughts. 

That’d be disappointing if the remainder of the upgrades weren’t such pure, welcome enhancements. There’s DLSS3 and AMD FSR assist, which will likely be nice for efficiency even with out ray tracing. There is a picture mode, although it is not fairly as detailed at Cyberpunk 2077’s. There is a new quest that rewards you with Henry Cavill’s Geralt armor from the Netflix sequence (and it is bought a reasonably cool little bit of story, too). A newly nimble-fingered Geralt can now harvest herbs with a single click on with out opening up a loot menu. And CD Projekt has performed a serious bug fixing cross to repair points which have lingered for years.

Picture 1 of 4

The Witcher 3 next-gen update

Henry’s black leather-based look involves The Witcher 3 as reward for finishing a brand new quest. (Picture credit score: CD Projekt Purple)
Picture 2 of 4

The Witcher 3 next-gen update

The subsequent-gen update contains full Chinese language voice performing for the primary time. (Picture credit score: CD Projekt Purple)
Picture 3 of 4

The Witcher 3 next-gen update

Identical for Korean VO. CDPR marked the brand new language assist with some bonus gear. (Picture credit score: CD Projekt Purple)
Picture 4 of 4

The Witcher 3 next-gen update

(Not pictured) A brand new menu toggle provides each Nilfgaardian the Netflix ballsack armor. Blessed. (Picture credit score: CD Projekt Purple)

A few of them are deep cuts.

“For those who keep in mind, there was this ‘Slavic folks music stops’ meme where Geralt sees that the important thing to Yennefer’s room is described as a ‘frequent merchandise,'” says longtime PR lead Radek Grabowski. “We truly fastened that, so now it is a uncommon merchandise. As soon as it launches, Reddit will likely be stuffed with these tidbits persons are going to dig out from the game.” 

The Witcher 3: Enhanced-Version-in-all-but-name additionally incorporates 5 mods, together with the HD Reworked challenge, which has racked up greater than 5.2 million downloads on Nexusmods over time. Folks love their 4K textures. One other polishes monster textures; one other fixes little visible points like clipping but additionally rebalances some talents, and was truly created by a Witcher 3 developer in his spare time. 

I used to be stunned that CD Projekt Purple did not choose to tackle upgrades like 4K textures internally—absolutely the unique belongings had been larger high quality than that, right?—however Malinowski had a easy clarification. “You realize, when work is nice, work is nice.” 

“The best way we work with the neighborhood, if the neighborhood creates one thing superior, why not embrace it and have it within the game?” Grabowski stated. “I can say that the modders had been excited to have their work featured within the model you will get from GOG and Steam and whatnot.”

Different small modifications replicate the years of hindsight CD Projekt’s designers have on the game. My favourite contact is that many of the map icons (that daunting sea of query marks) at the moment are disabled by default; the HUD can autohide to present you a cleaner view of the Toussaint countryside, which stays breathtaking. On controllers, a fast cast characteristic permits you to toss out an axii or igni with out utilizing the radial menu. A brand new default digital camera possibility pulls in nearer to Geralt, feeling subtly extra God of Battle and fewer 2000s PC RPG. (Don’t be concerned, 2000s PC RPG lovers: you’ll be able to simply change it again).

These modifications have been a very long time coming; CD Projekt introduced it in September 2020, three months earlier than Cyberpunk 2077 arrived, and… properly, you in all probability know the remainder. This update has had its personal improvement troubles: It was delayed from 2021 to 2022, and in exterior companion Saber Interactive’s arms till earlier this yr when CDPR took it in-house. However the end result appears definitely worth the wait—it helps to have one of many best video games of the last decade to work from as a base, I assume.

I questioned if there was any temptation to plant seeds in The Witcher 3 that may blossom within the upcoming Witcher video games, however Malisowski stated that is simply too distant—and never what this update is about. “A variety of time will cross earlier than one thing occurs,” he stated. It will be unfair to even trace at one thing right here.”

“You realize, we strive to not announce earlier than we’re able to announce,” he added with amusing. “We’re fairly self-aware in that means.”