The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition is out on December 14th as a free upgrade, and we got a chance to play it for a few hours. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S upgrade of CD Projekt Red’s beloved open-world RPG features a number of visual improvements, photo modes, and new missions.
This new quest is the most notable addition, and even if you don’t plan on replaying The Witcher 3 in its entirety any time soon, I highly recommend revisiting The Northern Realms just for this. Thankfully, all your savings will carry over, and it introduces cross-save. The quest itself features new characters, Henry Cavill’s armor from the Netflix show, a new monster to fight, and a new location. I won’t say too much to surprise, but it fits very well into The Witcher 3’s setting and expands on an area where the original release felt underused. At the very least, it’s nice to hear Doug Cockle continue to play the White Wolf, even if the mission itself is very short.
At the core of the Complete Edition are visual and performance improvements. On PS5 and Xbox Series X, there is a performance toggle. One favors the image with some subtle ray tracing added, while the other favors performance. During gaming, I prefer performance mode. The ray tracing image adds warmth and detail to the interior environment, but it’s not worth sacrificing the high frame rates available in performance mode.
No matter which graphics settings you choose, the game looks significantly better than the original versions. This became apparent when I started messing around with the new photo mode. It’s not as powerful as other photo modes, even when compared to Cyberpunk 2077, but I don’t think it needs to be. Instead of silly poses and facial expressions, the real star of the photo mode will certainly be all the stunning views. For a substantial part of my demonstration, I traveled the world just to take advantage of interesting photo opportunities.
CD Projekt Red has also integrated some popular fan-made mods to perfect the visuals. These include Terg500’s World Map Fixes, chuckcash’s Nitpickers Patch, HalkHogan’s The Witcher 3 HD Remake, FCR3 – Game Tweaks and Role Playing by Andrzej Kwiatkowski (now developer) CD Projekt Red) and HDMR – Denroth’s HD Monster Remake. The Nitpickers mod in particular is a great addition as it fixes some minor graphical inconsistencies that nitpickers like me might notice, such as Geralt’s sword crashing through the side of a boat. .
This update also brings a few tweaks to the gameplay. What I like the most is the new camera angles. CD Projekt Red has added an alternate camera angle closer to Geralt for exploring, fighting, and riding. You can mix and match different angles, and the camera will automatically adjust as you switch between these three operations. When I make sure to replay The Witcher 3, I plan to just use these new angles. While fighting, I feel closer to the action, and while exploring, I feel I can fully appreciate all the little details. The new camera angles may not work well in all situations due to the way they limit your field of view, but they give a much more cinematic feel.
Another big tweak to the gameplay is fast symbol transmission. Instead of switching signs or spells using the radial menu, you can hold down the R2 or right trigger and press the face button that corresponds to a particular sign. The purpose of this is to make it easier for you to reach all of Geralt’s signs without having to slow down the battle speed. It seems like a handy feature, but after playing The Witcher 3 many times, I find it very confusing. My feel may change as I spend more time with the Complete Version, but the radial menu feels more comfortable in my demo.
While none of these tweaks and additions fundamentally change The Witcher 3, they do make one of the best games of the last decade even better. If you’ve never played The Witcher 3, The Complete Edition is the perfect opportunity to get in. If you’ve played The Witcher 3, I still encourage you to check out this update when it launches later this month. The new quests are well worth your time, and the new photo mode makes it fun to revisit some of The Witcher 3’s most iconic locations.
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