Geralt of Rivia pops up on Nintendo’s console- here’s what you need to know about his unexpected arrival.
Port-begging for the Nintendo Switch has become a meme unto itself, but never even in our wildest, most ridiculous memes would we have thought that The Witcher 3, of all games, would ever come to the Switch. Until recently, that is. Because believe it or not, The Witcher 3 – one of the biggest, most demanding, and most ambitious games of this generation – is coming to Nintendo’s tiny little underpowered hybrid.
There’s a certain appeal to Witcher 3 on the go that cannot be denied, while for Switch owners who’ve never played the game before, this is the perfect opportunity to experience one of the greatest games of all time. As the game approaches its Switch release, in this feature, we’ll be taking a look at 11 vital things you need to know about this unlikely and unexpected port.
WHAT IT INCLUDES
So first things first- what exactly does The Witcher 3’s Switch launch include? Well, CD Projekt RED are calling it The Witcher 3: Complete Edition, and it’s certainly going to live up to its name. It will, of course, include the base game itself, but on top of that, you can also expect the package to include all post-launch content released for the game. That includes all the smaller DLCs, and the two massive expansions, Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine. That’s like 200 hours of gameplay right there.
THE FULL EXPERIENCE
You don’t have to worry about this being a Final Fantasy 15: Pocket Edition kind of situation. CD Projekt RED have given assurances that The Witcher 3 on the Switch is very much going to be the “full experience”. There is no content that has been cut out, nothing has been downsized or pared back because of hardware limitations. It’s The Witcher 3 in all its glory- minus the technical cutbacks, of course. Which brings us to our next point, conveniently enough.
The big question- how is this game even running on the Switch? Well, as you may have guessed, the answer is- with some predictable sacrifices. The most obvious of these sacrifices has been made to the game’s resolution. When the Switch is docked, The Witcher 3 will run at 720p with dynamic resolution enabled. Meanwhile, in handheld mode, the game will run at 540p- though on a smaller screen, the compressed image should make the lower image quality easier to digest.
There is some downsizing to the game’s technical side of things in other areas as well, but surprisingly, there’s very little of it. According to CD Projekt RED, the textures have been changed, while foliage density has been decreased, and there’s lower draw distances. However, character models are mostly unchanged, while the developers say the geometry in the game is pretty much the same as the PS4 and Xbox One versions.
OTHER TECHNICAL DETAILS
Thanks to Digital Foundry, we have a few more technical details on The Witcher 3 as well, and frankly, they’re quite surprising, all things considered. The game seems to steadily run in the 20-30 FPS range, while there have been no cutbacks to NPC count. That last bit is quite impressive, especially when you think back to just how many NPCs could be active on the screen at any given time when you were in Novigrad. Meanwhile, the game does use half-rate animations for objects that are further in the distance from the player.
According to CD Projekt RED, the biggest challenge in getting The Witche 3 ported to the Switch didn’t come in the shape of the console’s hardware limitations, but in terms of how the game would control and how its UI would be changed. In fact, on the Switch, the game features a different UI as compared to the PS4, Xbox One, and PC versions of the game.
By Nintendo Switch standards, The Witcher 3 is going to be an absolutely massive game in terms of file size. It’ll require 28.1 GB of free space in your system storage, and though that might not seem like much by today’s standards, it’s worth noting that Switch games rarely every require that much storage space. By comparison, the game’s complete edition on the Xbox One requires 39.91 GB, so there isn’t too much of a gap. This is also one of the only Switch games to date to use a 32 GB cart for its physical version.
You may have probably expected this, but let’s get it out of the way in any case. CD Projekt RED have confirmed that The Witcher 3 on the Switch will not support cross-saves. Which means that if you have ongoing saves of the game on any of the platforms the game has already released on, you won’t be able to carry over your progress and continue your save from that point on the Switch.
The Witcher 3: Complete Edition will, of course, have a physical release on the Switch, which will be one of the few games on the system that uses a 32 GB cart, as we’ve already mentioned. Notably enough, if you get the game’s physical version, you won’t need to download anything else. You can just pop that cart into your Switch, boot up the game, and jump right into it.
GOODIES WITH PHYSICAL VERSION
The game’s physical release on the Switch will also come with some pretty cool extra goodies. There will, of course, be the game itself, but on top of that, you can also expect to receive a physical map of the game’s world, as well as the The Witcher Universe Compendium, an illustrated volume filled with details and lore about the game’s locations, characters, creatures, and more. As a nice little bonus, the package will also include a couple of stickers.
So how much is the entire package going to set you back? About what you’d expect, really. The Witcher 3: Complete Edition on the Switch will be sold at the regular $60 price. That includes the game’s digital version, as well as it’s physical release, with all the extra goodies that we’ve talked about. It’s more than just a solid package, with the base game and both its expansions included, for dozens upon dozens of hours of gameplay. Now to see if the game holds up well on much less powerful hardware.