The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt upgrade gets extensive developer overview ahead of launch

Almost time to get back in the saddle.

The Witcher update feature image

CDPR has shared a thorough overview of all the new updates and improvements coming to The Witcher: Wild Hunt in a free next-gen update available later this month.

Starting with visual upgrades, there’s the much-hyped addition of ray traced lighting. The developers say that ray tracing technology is specifically implemented in various lighting simulations and technologies including global illumination, ambient occlusion and screen space reflections. While SSR was previously used for water reflections, the rest of the world and environment now gets the same treatment, meaning various armour and materials will have new reflective properties and steel and silver swords will naturally refract the sun’s gaze.

On PC, Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD’s temporal upscaling solution, FSR, have been added to aid with both ray tracing performance and assist aging graphic cards that will mostly likely struggle with the boost in visual fidelity. For those with beefier graphic cards like, say, Team Green’s RTX 4090, who want to play the best possible version of the game with everything turned on, new Ultra and Ultra Plus presets will be available in the graphics menu.

Textures have seen a massive overhaul, including new high-definition grass and trees, updated and improved weather effects with thick and puffy volumetric clouds, and smoke plumes from villages scattering the skyline. Geometry including rocks and cobble stones are also now rendered in 3D instead of just being a high-definition texture.

The Witcher 3 Update Performance Mode

Consoles also now have a choice of Performance or Quality modes. The former dials up ray tracing and outputs 30fps, while the latter maintains a stable 60fps, and offers either limited or no ray tracing capabilities. These will be available for both PS5 and Xbox Series X|S consoles. The developers have yet to confirm if the console versions will have AMD FSR as an additional option in the graphics menu or if it is directly implemented in varying degrees within the selected modes. PlayStation DualSense controllers receive added extras and make full use of existing features including haptic, audio feedback and adaptive trigger implementation.

Gameplay additions

In terms of gameplay, a robust and updated photo mode provides a variety of options such as exposure, contrast, and the ability to put Geralt in a variety of poses akin to CyberPunk 2077. You can now also pause cutscenes. Bathroom breaks have never been easier.

A choice of camera options has been added to the menu to increase the distance between Geralt and the player, with options for closer camera angles behind The Witcher or when on horseback and wider FOV options available for ultra-wide displays.

For those who hated bringing up the radial menu with the right bumper to cast spells/signs, a new quick option can be used by holding the right trigger, which now invokes Geralt’s various signs mapped to the controller face buttons, so that casting can be done on the fly, and in turn opens up a new level of play and fluid transitions in combat.

The Witcher 3 Update Dynamic Map

Moving swiftly on, map filters enable the user to remove points of interest so that returning veteran players have the option of experiencing side quests and events organically, and what’s more, a dynamic mini map option can be turned on that minimises the HUD mini map for immersive exploration while on horseback or when traversing the land on foot, with option to reveal the map on the fly with a click of the focus button. Finally, CDPR looked to the Modding community to add a few quality-of-life improvements such as walking animations and minor tweaks to overall gameplay; quest and bug fixes were ironed out for that added bit of polish.

Finally, accessibility options include scalable subtitles, Cantonese (simplified) language support for Chinese fans of the franchise with full voice over options and subtitles to boot, while various other existing languages have seen adjustments and improvements. CDPR claims quality-of-life improvements such as these can be found in the next-gen update, including cloud and cross-platform save options between PC and console.

The extensive overview ends with the developers mentioning new side quests for players to discover, one in particular teasing a quest that leads to previously mentioned, Netflix series-inspired weapons and armor additions, all while encouraging fans to explore the game on December 14 for even more hidden goodies. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt “next-gen” upgrade will be available for free on PS5, Xbox Series S|X and PC.