Hands on with The Witcher 3’s next-gen update: PS5 and Series X tested

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The Witcher 3’s next-gen update arrives on December 14, finally giving the game a proper release on PS5, Series X, and Series S. And likewise, it improves on the PC version with a series of long-awaited upgrades, including ray-tracing- support . Seven years after its original release, after multiple expansions and a successful Netflix adaptation, this update is the perfect opportunity to create an ultimate version for long-term fans and newcomers alike. And I’m happy to report that, having flown to developer CDPR’s Warsaw offices last week to try out the PS5 and Series X versions, this revitalized release seems very much to deliver on that promise.

While we weren’t allowed any live footage during the event, we got footage of the first 15 minutes of the new update running on PS5 and Series X in both their performance and RT modes – more than enough for a pre-show preview. full breakdown closer to release. As always with preview capture, it’s worth emphasizing that all this is still being optimized and the final release may be further improved.

Still, The Witcher 3 on PS5 and Series X made a huge impact in the four hours we played it – and not just in the visual upgrades, which include reworked foliage, 4K textures and higher-quality models throughout. There are also significant improvements to the quality of live, such as a revised camera and faster controls for using characters, the magic spells of the Witcher universe. All told, the game really looks and plays better than ever before.

Here’s the full rundown of our hands-on testing on PS5 and Series X.

As mentioned earlier, PS5 and Series X versions of the game offer a 60fps performance mode and a 30fps ray tracing mode, each of which uses AMD’s FSR 2.1 upscaling to produce a 4K output with dynamic resolution scaling . FSR 2.1 also takes over anti-aliasing duties from the older FXAA and TAA options, resulting in a much more stable image.

So how do these two modes hold up in practice? Starting with the 30fps ray tracing mode, we see two forms of ray tracing enabled: global illumination and ambient occlusion. The former allows lighting to bounce realistically between surfaces, shading and coloring the corners of the world, while the latter makes objects more grounded in their surroundings with more believable shadows. Together, the effects have a transformative effect on many scenes, especially those indoors or otherwise indirectly lit.

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The comparisons we can show around White Orchard don’t quite do the changes justice in truth, but in my time playing the game on PS5 and Series XI the differences became significant at times. No doubt we’ll have the opportunity to show off some more compelling scenarios after the first 15 minutes, especially our favorite test areas like Novigrad City and Crookback Bog.

PC users also have plenty to celebrate here. A top machine will benefit from two additional RT functions – reflections and shadows, completing the quartet of the most well-known RT effects. Even the premium consoles don’t have enough GPU horsepower to power all four at once, so CDPR chose the two options that offered the best ‘bang for the buck’, so to speak – a wise choice, given that the Witcher’s environment which isn’t exactly full of the rainy streets or glass clad buildings that show off so beautifully RT reflections in Cyberpunk.

Even without RT reflections on console, the 30fps mode has enough GPU headroom to allow for heavily reworked screen space reflections (SSR), providing higher resolution reflections that are also present on a wider range of surfaces , from puddles in Novigrad to the metallic elements of armor.

Even without RT reflections, reworked SSR produces better results.

If you prefer the 60fps responsiveness, Performance mode is an excellent alternative available for PS5 and Series X. Regardless of the mode, you’ll still benefit from the improvements to foliage and 4K textures – so the only aspect to consider here is lost is tracing the beam characteristics. And while One X already had an (admittedly unstable) 60fps version, PlayStation users have so far been limited to 30fps even on PS5 due to a PS4 Pro code appeal, making this a more revealing upgrade.

Performance looked good in our testing, with only a handful of dips below 60fps visible in the images provided, although at first glance it looked like Novigrad’s city center was dropping more frames. This area has historically been the most challenging part of the game in terms of performance – and the foundation of our Witcher GPU benchmarks on PC – so it’ll be fascinating to see how the new consoles and graphics cards stack up against the next-gen -version.



The two modes offer a more responsive 60fps mode or a 30fps mode with RT.

Interestingly, I’m told PC is getting a new graphics preset for many settings called Ultra Plus that will allow for even longer draw distances and denser grass, which could make The Witcher 3 a candidate for our GPU test suite even into 2023.

In addition to the graphical upgrades, there are numerous other changes and quality of life improvements: new weather conditions, more detailed self-shadows in the gameplay, a new camera, a new character ejection system, map filters, faster herb looting, and content related to the Witcher tv show. It’s also worth noting that the last-gen versions of the game on PS4, Xbox One, and Switch will also change the quality of life (without the new camera, due to the performance impact) and the TV content, which is a nice sets.



The RT lighting and ambient occlusion provide more realistic results.

However, all of this is just a taste of things to come. From what we’ve seen so far, PS5 and Series X deliver nearly identical delivery of the next-gen update, but we’re looking forward to testing the Series S version which wasn’t available during our session. We do know that there are 60fps performance and 30fps quality modes on the little white console, with the latter mode offering higher resolution but no RT.

The next-gen update is sure to be one of the most comprehensive free game upgrades in recent memory. It’s also the last time CDPR expects to use the Witcher engine, with the studio moving to Unreal Engine 5 for future releases. So it’s a historic release in many ways – and a fitting conclusion to a game that remains arguably CDPR’s best work.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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