March 28, 2022 — For many players out there, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the pinnacle of video game RPGs. Based on the applauded literary works of Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, there are few games in history that can attest to the success of this widely-regarded masterpiece series. With The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt next-gen update looking to come out this summer, this is one super-boosted upgrade you will not want to miss.
The refurbished Witcher title is coming to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows sometime this year. Although no release date is available at this time what we do know is the remaster is coming in the second quarter of 2022, which should see the title become available around the April-May-June time frame. With its supposed spring/summer arrival comes an onset of new features, including graphical improvements, performance optimizations, and much more.
[Editor’s Note: A source claiming to be close to the project who wished to remain anonymous provided us a slew of watermarked 4K screenshots. We have been unable to confirm whether these are legit and/or if they come from a work-in-progress version of the remaster. Many images are similar to screens from The Witcher 3, which could make sense if CD Projekt is using preset camera screenshot capture tools for comparison and consistency to match the established look/trademark shots of the original version.]
Amped Up Visuals and Performance
For starters, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt next-gen update will be exclusive to PS5, Xbox Series S|X, and (capable) Windows gamer rigs. What is great about the impending remaster is that current owners of the game will be getting the new content too — for free. This also means PlayStation 4 and Xbox One gamers who already bought a copy will receive the update at no additional cost, and even if you do not have any of the new consoles yet, the upcoming Witcher remaster will be waiting once you do.
“For starters, ‘The Witcher 3’ next-gen update will be exclusive to PS5, Xbox Series S|X, and (capable) Windows gamer rigs. What is even greater about the impending remaster is that current owners of the game will be getting the new content too — for free.”
Exactly what fans will be getting in the Wild Hunt update is currently unclear but there are certain features we can expect. For one, the game will include a hefty visual update in the form of high-resolution textures and likely also recreated 3D models (or artificially improved meshes through the use of modern GPU tech like tessellation, the key point of which is to generate smoother surfaces than could be produced by any game’s original 3D assets.) The 4K textures alone are the courtesy of the one and only modder, Halk Hogan, who is working directly with CD Projekt. Hogan is famous for having created The Witcher 3 ”HD Reworked” mod that heavily improved the textures, most of which will be present in the new, upcoming version.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt remaster will surely also sport 4K and 60FPS modes to further enhance the graphics and performance of the initial 2015 release, bringing the game up to par with modern standards. What is unclear, however, is whether or not the aforementioned high-fidelity features will be offered as optional or permanent game settings. The former could very well be the case, having in mind several console games have gone the way of Windows titles in recent years. Windows games often offer an insane amount of graphical settings that let players explore and tweak run-time performance.
[Editor’s Note: PC-like settings on consoles is a truly sad development as it detracts from the raison d’être of the arcade-natured console machines we have all come to love over the years as they are not only accessible, plug ’n play no fuss devices, but also harkens back to the hey-dey of the arcades. Should console gaming become more complex, following in the footsteps of Windows gaming, the wider gaming audience who tend to be more interesting in playing games rather than tinkering with performance options may opt-out of real, non-mobile gaming entirely.]
High-Fidelity Graphics Potential
Rumors have also hinted at the Wild Hunt next-gen update including ray-tracing, a method of graphics rendering that simulates the physical behavior of light. This is by no means a far-fetched assumption, as ray-tracing is becoming more and more popular and has quickly gained traction with developers. It should also be noted the powerful graphical features of Sony’s and Microsoft’s new consoles are the first such devices capable of handling real-time ray-tracing at respectable quality. Another remaster bonus, if we may call it that, is that as with all games running on new console hardware, loading times are going to be blazingly fast — which will make it quicker for gamers to move between zones and significantly reduce what many consider “transportation grind” (at least for those games that has not made distance-traveling a forceful part of their design).
“It should also be noted the powerful graphical features of Sony’s and Microsoft’s new consoles are the first such devices capable of handling real-time ray-tracing at respectable quality.”
Adding to the immersion of the remaster, we believe the upcoming The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt remaster will include additional controller features, especially through the use of the PlayStation 5 DualSense haptic controller that can provide physically responsive feedback to in-game actions; such feedback made possible only through Sony’s unique haptic technology. By comparison, the Xbox Series S|X controller does have rumble feedback, potentially allowing for similarly refined immersion. However, the Xbox rumble tech is an evolution of technology created in 2013 and is not as advanced as the DualSense.
Of course, it is also plausible the Witcher update will be sold on as a bundle with all available DLC included, perhaps not entirely unlike 2016’s former “remaster” The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition.
Game Engine Woes
Whether you are a veteran Witcher fan or a newcomer to the series, once summer hits and (if) the remaster comes out, gamers should be able to enjoy The Witcher 3 in its best possible condition. [Editor’s Note: Kurgan Compass is not entirely convinced, having in mind the unforgivably devastating launch of Cyberpunk 2077 in December of 2020.]
CD Projekt’s switch to Unreal Engine 5 for the Witcher series might prevent Cyberpunk-style disasters in the future. However, veteran industry sources close to Kurgan Compass™ have informed us the source code of Epic’s ubiquitous engine is “disastrous hell”, with UE5 features being quickly added “brute force” style at the C++ level, resulting in Epic’s engine code — especially on consoles, where C++ low-level programming is often required to tweak the engine — is nowhere near as structured, well-documented, and professional as other custom engines like DICE’s Frostbite or MASSIVE UbiSoft’s Snowdrop Engine (both of which are co-incidentally developed in Sweden.)
A Well-Timed Remaster Release?
Perhaps more than anything else, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt remaster appears to be coming out at just the right time, assuming it makes it for summer 2022. It is a respectable giant of a game in many senses, being the third entry in the series, it propelled developer CD Projekt Red to new heights, seemingly overnight (although the developer had been working hard on previous titles since the company’s inception two decades ago, in 2002.) It seemed CD Projekt could do no wrong back then, releasing hit after hit, with the Witcher series and its variety of meaty DLC packs being well-received by critics and fans alike.
To the delight of many fans, the developer also released a stand-alone version of Gwent, an expanded, standalone version of The Witcher 3’s gorgeously painted card minigame.
The Dark Shadow Cast by Cyberpunk 2077
Today, though, CD Projekt Red is a different beast. As quickly as the developer has been growing in recent years, not too long ago it quickly became thought of with contempt. As mentioned above, Cyberpunk 2077 was a notoriously awful launch that has left a stain on the company’s history; one that will never fully go away.
That said, other developers in the past, like No Man’s Sky’s Hello Games, have proven recovery is possible (although to be fair, Cyberpunk 2077 was in a far worse launch state than No Man’s Sky.) Either way, releasing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt next-gen update will be an integral step to put CD Projekt Red back on track as they march towards their former glory. If the remaster is handled with much care and love, which we hope, the upcoming release will for certain bring a good chunk of goodwill back to the studio.
A recent Cyberpunk 2077 next-gen update was surprise-released in the best manner possible, making the game on par with both current-gen consoles and PCs. Released as a “shadow drop”, the Cyberpunk patch came out the same day as it was announced. This turned out to be a great way to tackle the buggy game’s bad reputation, and also provided some legit damage control while instilling confidence in the developer. It goes without saying that so far, CD Projekt’s shadow patch tactic has turned out well as it seems gamers are now beginning to talk positively of Cyberpunk 2077.
Turning the Troubled Tide
Bringing The Witcher 3 to new platforms in an excellent manner is the developer’s next huge event. If CD Projekt treats Witcher fans with another shadow drop within the next couple of months, it should help the developer’s current outlook. The upcoming remaster could return the developer to the time before Cyberpunk 2077 when gamers praised CD Projekt as one of few, if not the only, Western, non-American RPG studio capable of competing with the likes of Bethesda and BioWare.
For those who are looking forward to jumping into The Witcher 3 next-gen update for the first time, here is what you need to know. It is one of my favorite games of the last generation and a title that has aged remarkably well. While commonplace today, it showed that open-world RPGs can work well with0ut suffering from being underpopulated and empty because of the genre’s inherent vastness, instead taking advantage of the large open world zones to provide a meaningful and heartfelt experience.
Concluding ‘The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’ Remaster
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt took an excellent story, infused it with brilliant characters that came alive in a gorgeously detailed and unique setting, bringing all these elements together. The game then coupled its unique open-world approach with tasks and side quests that felt just as impactful as the main story of the series’ lead-character Geralt trying to find Ciri. Better yet, the “3” in the title is a little misleading in the sense means very little — gamers can hop into the game without ever having played the first two titles and still “get it.”
Choices also mattered in the original The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and entire storylines would change depending on player actions. Characters can be let live or let die, deal with their personal trauma or not, and it is up to you to help decide how the story goes. To cap it all off, the action-based combat is fast, fluid, and fun with excellent mechanics.
The old adage of being simple enough to pick up but challenging to master with the various magic-like Signs and upgrades that you can use fits the title perfectly. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an absolute masterpiece to many, including myself, and the next-gen update will offer the best way to play it. That is, at least, until the release of The Witcher 4 (or whatever it ends up being called) that has already been formally teased.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Update/Remaster is an open-world video game RPG based on the books by Andrzej Sapkowski and developed by Poland’s CD Projekt Red. The high-quality remastered version is planned for release on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Microsoft Windows (owners of the older generation version of the game, for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, will be getting the update for free.)