Reviews - Updated on April 9, 2022

When journalists from various publications published articles about the Nintendo Switch, comparing this platform with other consoles, in their texts there was almost always a phrase like “It is unlikely that such popular games as The Witcher 3, Overwatch and GTAV will appear on it.” And if we, apparently, really never wait for the third, then the first two will be released on the same day this week. The Witcher stands out especially among them – even at the stage of rumors, many did not believe that a large-scale RPG would reach the hybrid console. But at the last E3, the announcement really took place, and now the game itself is coming out.

Pocket Geralt

Porting the game to the Switch was handled by Saber Interactive under the close supervision of CD Projekt RED. The main thing for both studios was to offer players on the Switch exactly the same version as on all other platforms: The Witcher 3 itself, and both major expansions, and all the free updates that came out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. They managed to fit all this on a single cartridge without the need to download anything after purchase, except for an optional 3.6 GB day one patch. The digital version is 28.9 GB.

The only noticeable difference from the original was the graphics, which had to be worsened due to the need to shrink the size of the distribution and because of the technical features of the Switch. Firstly, in stationary mode, The Witcher is played at 720p, and in portable mode – 540p. Secondly, the textures here are far from clear everywhere, the lighting is not as rich, and the draw distance, according to the developers, is about five times worse than on PS4.

However, this does not mean at all that the game is scary to watch, and the head starts to hurt from “soap” and “ladders”. Yes, it is difficult not to notice the funny-looking bushes and grass at first, but the developers have done everything possible so that they do not have to pay attention to every small detail and graphics flaws. For example, they tried to keep the character models in their original form, so all the episodes with dialogues and videos on the engine look great. The heroes did not turn into mannequins and completely retained their animations.

The Witcher 3 on Switch - did not do without magic

You can’t tell right off the bat what platform the screenshots were taken on.

Therefore, all sorts of little things, like simple tree crowns, very quickly begin to be ignored. When I finished the intro, got on the Roach, collected papers from the bulletin board and went to do side tasks, I just played The Witcher and at some point stopped thinking about the fact that I was going through it on the Switch. So far, there have never been situations when, due to graphics, something could not be seen, something did not work correctly, or the game reminded that it was played on weak hardware.

Like the good old

All this is true for both game modes – I constantly switched between them and did not find any shortcomings that would be especially noticeable when passing in the “portable”. The cities look the same, jogging along the roads of Velen and walking around Novigrad do not cause discomfort. Sometimes trees can appear in the distance from nowhere, sometimes the shadows fall crookedly, sometimes smeared textures on the ground or stone are too noticeable. But this does not spoil the atmosphere, and even more so the story and gameplay.

The frame rate remained stable, no matter how I tried to “drop” it: I tried to fight with several opponents, and actively used the Signs, and raced on the Roach through dense forests – if the fps did drop, I failed to notice it. The only times the consoles find it hard to digest are the Wild Hunt cutscenes: almost every time it appears, you see 15 instead of 30 fps. If you remember the first demos of The Witcher 3 for home consoles, the Wild Hunt scenes then survived a strong “downgrade” of the graphics – apparently, some effects in these episodes had a negative impact on performance then, and continue now.

The Witcher 3 on Switch - did not do without magic

In stationary mode (left), there is a little more grass and bushes than in portable mode (right), but you won’t even notice it until you start comparing screenshots.

Everything else works great. Loading rarely takes a long time (although sometimes you have to wait about a minute after death), sorties were not detected, all buildings, opponents, people, quests, merchants and gwent players remained in their places. The controls are exactly the same as on other consoles: jump on B, accelerate on A, L opens the wheel of Signs, and they are used when you press ZR. Console-unique features like HD Rumble are not used, nor is it possible to dig into the inventory by touching the screen, but these are all trifles.

When porting the game to the Switch, they did not forget to take care of those who will mainly play in portable mode – the font here is large enough to make everything easy to read. Books, descriptions of characters, and a bestiary with tips on what is best to use in battle against certain creatures – everything is very convenient. The same with the inventory, the world map and the table in gwent – you don’t need to spoil your eyesight and bring the Switch closer to your face. Although the game is played in low resolution using blur in handheld mode, the interface was left as clear as possible.

What we expected, we got

There is nothing more to tell about this version – this is the familiar The Witcher 3, which does not even have new content like Link’s costume in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. But is it necessary to talk about the game itself after so many years? A huge RPG with a great script, great atmosphere and a mountain of content that you can’t tear yourself away from – that’s it in a nutshell. Full English and Russian versions are available on Switch – if you prefer the second option, now you can listen to Vsevolod Kuznetsov’s accelerated cues at work, in transport and in the toilet. And the sound was not compressed as terribly as in Dark Souls Remastered – there are no complaints about it at all.The Witcher 3 on Switch - did not do without magic

In portable mode, reading such a font is very comfortable.

Those who completed the main game, but have never launched the Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine expansions, do not have to replay the campaign – the menu suggests launching each expansion separately. But, unfortunately, it is impossible to transfer saves from the PC, as it is allowed in Divinity: Original Sin II. There are no plans to add such an option, but in such a large-scale game, it would be very useful.

***

In the case of The Witcher for Switch, many have long decided everything for themselves. For some, this is the worst version of the game due to poor graphics, and these people find it hard to understand why spend time on it when you have any other platform. For some, on the contrary, this is the best version of the famous RPG, since only it allows you to play The Witcher in portable mode, and not spend more than a hundred hours in front of a TV or monitor. Especially if, due to work and children, such long gatherings cannot be arranged.

Be that as it may, the appearance of The Witcher 3 for a hybrid console is a significant event. On the one hand, thanks to this, the Switch library has been replenished with another great game, which many call one of the best in the history of the industry. Now, to the must-buy list, which already has Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Astral Chain and all sorts of Hollow Knight with Dead Cells, another must-have item has been added.

The Novigrad Switch holds up better than the PS4 before the patches.

On the other hand, this release proves that nothing is impossible if there is a desire. Okay, Skyrim on the Switch – she’s already a hundred years old at lunch and where she just didn’t go out. Okay, DOOM on the Switch – on regular consoles the game was running at 60 frames / s, and cutting the frequency by half certainly made the task much easier. But The Witcher 3, which retained both the frame rate and the content did not lose, and works fine, this is really a miracle that happened before our eyes.

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