The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt made waves when it launched back in 2015, receiving critical praise and achieving the top spot in many game of the year lists. The launch of the Complete Edition on December 14 updates The Witcher 3 for modern gaming platforms by introducing various graphical and gameplay improvements along with additional free content. Players who own the game on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC will receive the update for free.
After having wrapped up Geralt’s journey years ago, I was happy to be given another chance to return to the path to experience the improvements on PlayStation 5. While the improved graphics settings and quality-of-life features are welcome additions that serve to enhance an already impressive game, some features fell short of expectations.
Performance over prettiness
It is important to note that I will be focusing on the newly added features in the Complete Edition as opposed to reviewing the full game, since Shacknews already has reviews of both The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and its expansions on hand for those interested. While the Complete Edition comes with new features for both PC and consoles, some PC-specific features, such as upscaling and DLSS, will not be covered here since I played on PS5.
The Complete Edition adds two new graphical modes for PlayStation 5: Ray Tracing Mode and Performance Mode. Ray Tracing Mode aims to take advantage of the powerful hardware of the PS5, offering a boost in graphics that includes enhanced lighting, improved shadows, and sharper visuals, but maxes out at 30 FPS. Conversely, Performance Mode prioritizes performance over graphics by maintaining a frame rate of 60 FPS.
While the crisp graphical fidelity of Ray Tracing Mode makes for some stunning visuals, I did not feel it was worth the frame rate decrease. Although the graphics take a minor hit in Performance Mode, the differences are hardly noticeable. The gameplay is a buttery-smooth 60 FPS both in and out of combat and I preferred this setting throughout.
Strike a pose (or don’t)
As part of the new-generation update, The Witcher 3 now has a built-in Photo Mode that allows players to create unique screenshots using an assortment of editing tools. After having enjoyed the Photo Mode in Cyberpunk 2077, I expected the Witcher 3 version to offer a similar toolset.
Though similar in its layout and usage, Photo Mode in The Witcher 3 lacks several features available in that of its futuristic cousin. While the mode allows you to adjust the camera distance and tweak things like contrast and exposure, there are no character poses, stickers, or frames. I am the kind of player who can easily get carried away in Photo Mode provided there are enough tools to work with, so I was disappointed to find The Witcher 3’s Photo Mode to be so limited. I had looked forward to playing around with different poses for Geralt and composing some interesting shots. While you can still capture some breathtaking images, Photo Mode would have been even better if it had at least a few of Cyberpunk 2077’s decorative tools. Nevertheless, Photo Mode is a welcome addition to the game and I would have loved to have such a feature when playing the original years ago.
Signs of the times
There are several quality-of-life changes in the update that returning players will appreciate. A new Quick Casting feature has been added that allows Signs to be cast without having to open the radial menu, which makes for much faster Sign casting during combat. Other radial menu improvements help streamline the use of bombs and consumables by removing unnecessary steps.
Alternate Camera settings bring the in-game camera closer to the player character and can be toggled on and off for combat, exploration, and horseback. The closer camera angle made the gameplay feel more immersive, which was compounded by the newly added haptic feedback felt through the DualSense Controller and its adaptive triggers.
Despite having long loading times on PS4, loading times have significantly improved in the PS5 version, making fast travel a much more viable option this time around. Those who wish to avoid fast travel can still call upon Roach or hoof-it on foot. Movement has been adjusted for more fine-tuned walking and running, and there is now the option to sprint by tapping the L3. Fall damage has been tweaked so that Geralt can survive minor trips and tumbles in ways he could not previously. The world map has been tidied up and there are new options for toggling HUD and minimap visibility during combat.
The update offers some additional content for fans of The Witcher Netflix series, including a new quest and various cosmetic items. There is even the option to equip Nilfgaardian soldiers with the iconic wrinkled armor from the show.
After having played the Complete Edition, I can honestly say I envy those whose first experience with The Witcher 3 will be this version of the game. While the game itself remains mostly the same, the update fixes a plethora of issues and introduces gameplay changes and additions that have been long overdue. Despite its shortcomings, the Complete Edition is the best version of The Witcher 3 you can play on console and PC.
These impressions are based on a PlayStation 5 review code provided by the publisher. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition will be available starting December 14, 2022 and is a free update for all existing players.
Larryn Bell posted a new article, The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt Next-Gen Update brings some long-overdue features
The quick-cast signs just seems like such a no brainer to include I'm surprised it's taken 7 years to get to it.
Also, wtf this game is 7 years old?