The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt became a fan favorite quickly after release and became hailed over time as a near-perfect game—but it didn’t start that way. When its first trailers were released in 2013, the world fell in love with its stunning visuals only to be disappointed with the end product not holding up to the expectation after the rendering system was changed mid-development.
While fans fell in love with the game regardless of the initial disappointment, many held out hope for an enhanced edition that would never come. But this year The Witcher 3 is being updated for the next-gen consoles and gamers are hoping it will be the perfect time to have the commonly requested upgrades and fixes resolved.
10 Decreased Load Time
Decreased load time is a frequent ask for any game. This has obviously gotten much better over time but when the technology is dealing in worlds as large and detailed as that of The Witcher 3 it can take a bit longer.
Unfortunately, that also means breaking the immersion. This was seen quite dramatically near the end of the game when stress is high and there are a lot of characters on screen and various weather/elemental patterns for the system to keep up with. Fortunately, this is something that the developers themselves have assured is going to be a focus when it comes to the next-gen upgrading.
9 Enhanced Smoke And Fire Effect
In the 2013 trailers, gamers were treated to quite a visual spectacle and one feature that stood out among all others was the fire and smoke effects. The fire would swirl up in a spiral as it rose, the warm colors would rise and blend into the clouds above, and the flames themselves are three-dimensional and heavily textured. The fires in the released game were still reactive and detailed but certainly flatter and more two-dimensional in feel.
The volumetric plumes of smoke from open fires and chimnies alike added such a richness to the environment that was severely missed in the released game. A return to the originally intended smoke and fire, if not an improvement, would be welcome with warm arms (and possibly tears.)
8 Improved Hairworks
From Geralt to Yennefer, Ciri to Vesemir, the cast of The Witcher 3 has nothing if not luscious locks. These heads of luxurious hair deserve graphics that can truly support them. Having hair that will self-shadow, fall appropriately on the body, and react to the wind can make all the difference in something looking “real” or not.
It doesn’t end at just the hair on top of characters heads either, but animals too, and all the way down to the fibers on some of the materials made from those animals. Now is a better time than ever for Djange Frett to get his old cloak back.
7 Improved LOD And Draw Distances
It’s impossible to argue that The Witcher 3 wasn’t a gorgeous and advanced visual product for its time. That being said, the draw distances and level of detail were significantly decreased when the rendering system was changed mid-development. Where the player could see brick detail in the furthest away towers, now there are even fewer details on those directly in front of them.
Certain things that were within absolute reasonable distance still struggled to render on playthroughs as Geralt ran by which really hurt the visual experience. This is likely due to consoles not being able to reach the level of performance that would have been required to maintain those graphics, but hopefully, the next-gen consoles will be up for the challenge.
6 Reimplementation Of Original Armor Textures
The Witchers armor is always and will always be the coolest, but knowing it could be (and was) even better is too fantastic to ignore. In the past, their gear had various nicks and notches to reflect wear and tear from their adventures. The visible changes from time could range from scratch marks to fading and even paint flaking off.
These small details were removed sometime after the Blood and Wine DLC was released and in its place was a more simple, blanketed texture for the gear. These little marks of individualism add another layer of personality and depth of realness to the game and characters overall.
5 Improved Particle Behaviors
This is a big one for most fans. Particle systems are the unseen little bits that make up a world and more importantly, make that world seem real. This plays into some other elements, like the smoke and fire, but more specifically it needs to be improved when it comes to the clouds and wind. Whether it be low hanging fog or high floating clouds, what gamers were given was not what was expected after the 2013 trailers.
The demand for these elements to be given back their proper rendering of detail has been high, and when it’s a game in which there are so many aerial enemies, understandably so. This also goes for making environments feel more authentic, like making Skellige feel colder, cast signs reacting to the wind, and blood spatters landing in reflective manners.
4 Enhanced Lighting
This is another topic that has thankfully been addressed as a priority by the developers. The solution to this problem is ray-tracing. Ray-tracing is a way that light and shadows are rendered in a lifelike way and is still considered to be pretty new technology. This follows every single beam of light that comes from a light source and affects the way the entire world is viewed.
Only within the last year or two have games started utilizing this technology in large-scope ways (like for entire games) as it takes a lot of power to run it, but next-gen consoles seem to be looking to make it a standard.
3 Improved Water Behavior
The water in The Witcher 3 is fantastic, but there is always room for improvement. The way Geralt comes out of the water still soaked, leaving puddles behind and drying over time, is impressive—but the water itself could still use some work.
Water tesselation (at least in 2013 in the Nvidia effects video) was high, which means the water was incredibly flexible and reactive to its environment. This made boats gliding, creatures swimming, and rain falling around water seem all the more believable. Any advances in this feature are direct advances in immersion.
2 Enhanced Special Effects
Some elements within The Witcher 3 were clearly too heavy for what the consoles could handle. Realistically, the developers cannot make a separate game for each platform, meaning if the PlayStation or Xbox machinery wasn’t able to handle a certain task, that unfortunately meant PC wouldn’t get it either.
This wasn’t the case with prior installments in the series, but for The Witcher 3, it means a lot of elements were left half-baked because they had to be. Certain special effects, like teleports, came out looking like a blob when they were clearly meant to be so much more.
1 Even More Textures
It all comes down to more and it always will; it’s the natural progression of things. The next-gen consoles will be able to handle more and so the gamers demand more. When it comes to The Witcher, gamers want the experience they felt they were promised in 2013, and along with that comes more.
Clean up the shadows, add in more foliage, get more detail into the brickwork, and get back to the level of art that the game originally began as. The experience of a game is done through feeling, seeing, and actualization, therefore the more effort that can be put into something (especially when it is something already deeply loved) the more love the player feels back.