The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Next-Gen Update Review
Oh boy, here I go Witchering again
At some point or another, we’re all going to have to accept that 2015 was eight years ago. Maybe I’m just getting old (cue a groan from my 30-something year old editor), but it feels like I was a high schooler just last week. My perpetually overworked brain refuses to accept that Donald Trump was the president of the United States, the whole 8 years of war in Ukraine debacle and the existence of 5 ex-prime minsters in the United Kingdom. The fact that I’m still playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt isn’t helping things either, because even though it adds a minor slew of new improvements, the title still feels like it’s stuck in a year when a conflict in the Middle East was the most important thing happening in the world.
If for some reason you haven’t played The Witcher 3, let me fill you in. The title, which won more awards than a Ukrainian politician in 2022, is essentially edgy Lord of the Rings. It’s a perfectly polished, absurdly violent and overly dark roleplaying game where your job is to kill a lot of people to save the world or something. Back when it launched in 2015, it also made its developer CD Projekt Red one of the most loved companies in existence because of how they released regular free updates to something that was already a fantasy fan’s wet dream. It was, and to a lesser extent still is, graphically great, has stupidly satisfying third-person sword and spell-based gameplay, and its story is so good that non-nerds watched a Netflix show adaptation of it.
However, the problem with The Witcher 3 is that a lot of time has passed since it released, and with it a lot of other great open world games have come out. While the title’s visual elements will forever be considered pretty poggers, and the bar for third-person melee games isn’t exactly high, the overall experience of Wild Hunt just isn’t as phenomenal as it once was. The next generation update for it, then, seeks to address these things, and does so more or less appropriately.
The biggest changes it brings are graphics-related. On PC, there are now even more options to melt your GPU and give you amazing screenshots, and on consoles, the game looks even better than it once did (and can now be ran at a constant 60FPS). The update isn’t anything close to a total remaster, but the new settings are a welcome addition to a game that already looked fantastic when it released. It should be noted that it does take a super beefy rig to use any of these things on computers, as the one I played it on (which, coincidentally was built to run the base game back when my parents paid for my stuff), was bricked until I turned off almost every new setting. Console players shouldn’t have this issue, obviously, and as such it’s nice to have the ability to expertly tune your visual experience regardless of your platform.
There are also some smaller gameplay improvements included thanks to mods that are now pre-packaged with the game, and like the visual update, these don’t make or break the title but are still fun to have. It’s now slightly easier to manage your inventory, navigate the map and there’s some new gear to find. But outside of that, there just isn’t a whole lot to say.
The same can be said for the question that’s on everyone’s mind, which is if the update warrants a replay of the 80-hour experience. If you’re looking for an excuse to boot up the title, or even pick it up for the first time, nothing included in the Next Gen Update can convince you one way or another. The game is still, to the surprise of nobody, The Witcher 3 for better and worse. Its gameplay is still great, albeit slightly dated compared to the likes of God of War: Ragnarok, the story is still super drawn out but otherwise enjoyable, and its visuals are still stunning.
As such, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Next Gen Update is, well, an update, and that’s about it. The new features it includes are nice enough, and the bugs it fixes won’t be missed, but there isn’t a whole lot else to it. The title is still one of the best RPGs on the market, and can comfortably sit at the top of a near-infinite number of gaming-related lists. Anyone looking for a reason to play it again won’t find it in this update, nor will those who haven’t decided to pick it up yet. But in the years to come, these new features will certainly help it age a lot better than the completely unnecessary Assassin's Creed III remaster as the world as a whole finds something better to care about.
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