The Witcher 3 Switch Preview – A True Complete Edition
So, one of the big surprises from E3 earlier this year was The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, even though the rumours had been making the rounds about a port. The real surprise around the game was the claims that it would all fit on one Game Card. Naturally, the question is what has been compromised?
Surely there must have been a compromise somewhere? This is The Witcher 3. How can a game that looks like The Witcher 3, has the size of The Witcher 3 and have everything that The Witcher 3 has all fit on one Nintendo Switch Game Card? The question is simple: What kind of Witchery is this?
Whenever I go to any game preview event, I always take a notebook. That's how I (pretend to) do the thing I do. I write down points, sometimes whole sentences, about what I'm seeing and feeling at the time. Also other things like little facts that I may need to remember. Every so often my thoughts about a title show very quickly. This is one such title. The first line simply states "Has no right looking this good!" where the second says "Has no right playing this smooth". Does this give away my thoughts about The Witcher 3 on the Nintendo Switch away? No? Well, let's carry on.
We all know that CD Projekt Red made a masterpiece with this when this was first released a little over four years ago. The core game alone had a huge amount of content, spread across a world that was actually interesting and exciting to explore. It looked, sounded and played fantastic, with great characters, storytelling and writing in general. It was only made better through added content, from a wealth of free DLC and then great expansions like Heart and Stone as well as Blood and Wine.
Needless to say, the fact that the Nintendo Switch version of The Witcher 3 contains every single piece of free DLC and the two expansions, you've got a hell of a lot of game to play through. The awkward thing about previewing or reviewing a re-release like this is that we all know about the game itself. Long story short, this is a fantastic game and you're going to get close to, if not more than a hundred hours of great gameplay. Since we pretty much know that as a fact, let's look at the real questions as if it can really run, play and look as good on the Switch.
What we do know is that, when docked, The Witcher 3 will play at 720p and in handheld at 540p. Despite this obvious downgrade, essential to fit the game on the Switch, it really looks great. There have been a few very changes, such as a change in draw distance and when such as foliage, trees and more pop in. From what I saw, there is a slight bit of pop-in noticeable, such as trees magically appearing on the horizon. It's nothing major and only really noticeable if you're looking for it, but it's still there.
I did notice a few issues here and there too. The loading times are slightly longer than I remember from the PS4 and certainly longer than the PC, though they aren't exactly terrible. Some graphical glitches were also noticeable during cutscenes where shadows wouldn't actually cover a character's face but replace it or at least part of it. Part of this will be due to the fact that the cutscenes have been altered, compressed, changed to make it so the game can fit onto the one Game Card.
Granted, these are just slight issues that Saber Interactive and CD Projekt Red have time to sort any of these out. Development is still ongoing, with plans to be released sometime later this year. One thing that has surprised me is that every graphical option you could think of is also included. You have the ability to flick blur and motion blur on or off and the choice to rescale the UI however you prefer. If it's in the PS4 version, what this is based upon, then the Switch version also has it.
There are a few other things that have been compressed or removed from The Witcher 3, though nothing actually important or noticeable. The audio, though I believe compressed, sounds just as good as if you're playing it on a console. From what I was told and saw - though I may be mistaken - the version you purchase will be very limited in audio options. This is perfectly understandable, again understanding the space constraints, so if you purchase the English version of the game its English VO and text you'll receive.
Still, I should state something that I mentioned at the very start of this piece. The Switch version of The Witcher 3 is silky smooth already. Riding around the wilderness, hopping into the bustle and build of Novigrad or simply jumping in and fighting some of the wild and wonderful creatures of The Northern Kingdoms. Frankly, this has no right being as good as it is, even at this early stage.
There have been zero compromises in content, with only minor ones on visual fidelity, audio options and slower loading time than I'm used to. There's little doubt to me that, when released, this will be the best open-world game on the Nintendo Switch and, arguably, the best game in general on the Switch. How nice it will be to the battery, well that's something I'll have to figure out when I have the game and I'm constantly playing it whenever I'm on the go. When will that be? There's no set date, the aim is still for a 2019 release. I, for one, can't wait.