The Witcher 3's next-gen update won't be out for a couple more days—December 14, to be precise—but the full patch notes are out now, so we can get a blow-by-blow breakdown of everything we have to look forward to.
Visual updates are the most obvious changes, of course: Ray tracing, 4K textures, and improved reflections and shadows all promise to make an already-gorgeous game look even better, for those who have the hardware to handle it. And if you really want to go all-in on the eye candy, CD Projekt has also added a new, PC-exclusive "Ultra+" graphical setting that "significantly increases the visual fidelity of the game," although I imagine you're going to need some pretty serious hardware to make it happen at an acceptable framerate (DLSS 3 will help, too).
There are a number of interesting quality of life changes in the update as well. A "Quick Sign Casting" option will let players choose and cast Geralt's signs without having to access the radial menu—I don't personally recall that being a great chore, but now you can just skip it altogether. There's also a new map filter that hides some icons, including boats and all those "?" that build up over weeks and months on the Path. (They're handy when you're looking for things to do, but man, there are a lot of them.) Smaller changes including improved herb harvesting, scalable subtitle fonts, and increased fall damage height, and of course there's a new photo mode, which should lead to some spectacular shots.
It all adds up to a very impressive update that "polishes an RPG that's aged like a fine Toussaint red," as senior editor Wes Fenlon put it after getting some advance hands-on time with it last week. In fact, the addition of ray tracing—held up by CD Projekt as the front page feature—"may even be the last reason to care about this update."
That's not bad for a game that, regardless of its quality, is now seven years old. I only finished The Witcher 3 in December 2021 after putting nearly 400 hours into a single campaign, and so had zero intention of bothering with this update, but after reading these patch notes I have to admit that I'm feeling the itch. Maybe I'll just dip my toes back in for a few minutes...
These are the official patch notes, but CD Projekt also said, somewhat oddly, that they're also "just the highlights." Have a look at the full list of changes below.
PC and Next-Gen Exclusives
- Added ray traced global illumination and ambient occlusion.
- Additionally, PC players with compatible hardware have an additional option to turn on ray traced reflections and shadows.
- Added various mods and mod-inspired content to the game to improve visuals and overall game quality. We’ve included some community-made favorites in addition to our own modifications in areas such as environment and cutscene improvements, realistic pavements, and many decoration upgrades.
- Community-made and community-inspired mods include:
- • The Witcher 3 HD Reworked Project by HalkHogan
- • HD Monsters Reworked by Denroth
- • Immersive Real-time Cutscenes by teiji25
- • Nitpicker's Patch by chuckcash
- • World Map Fixes by Terg500
- Upscaled texture to 4K for various characters, including Geralt, Yennefer, Triss, Ciri, Eredin and more.
- All main characters, including Geralt, now cast high-resolution self-shadowing even outside cutscenes. Additionally, hair clipping through armor as well as some other armor-clipping issues have been fixed.
- Environmental improvements:
- • Added a new weather type – "Gray Sky"
- • Updated sky textures
- • Vegetation and water improvements
- • Various mesh improvements
- • Improved some select VFX
- • Updated global environmental lighting
- Added AMD FidelityFX™ Super Resolution (FSR) 2.1
- Added photo mode, allowing players to take stunning pictures within the world of The Witcher 3.
- Added the option to pause the game during cutscenes.
- Added an alternative camera option that's closer to the player's character and that reacts more dynamically to combat and movement. You can find this new setting in Options → Gameplay under Exploration, Combat, and Horseback Camera Distance.
- Added “ULTRA+” graphical settings on PC, which significantly increases the visual fidelity of the game. The graphical settings available on ULTRA+ affect:
- • Number of background characters
- • Shadow quality
- • Grass density
- • Texture quality
- • Foliage visibility range
- • Terrain quality
- • Water quality
- • Detail level
- Added DLSS 3 support. Available only on compatible hardware.
- Improved the overall quality of graphics on next-gen consoles. Including enhanced textures, improved fidelity, shadow quality, greater draw distances and crowd density.
- Ray Tracing Mode — provides ray-traced global illumination and ambient occlusion with dynamic resolution scaling targeting 30 FPS for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
- Performance Mode — ensures smoother gameplay targeting 60 FPS with dynamic resolution scaling for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
- The Xbox Series S version has no ray-tracing features. Quality Mode provides increased resolution and better image fidelity targeting 30 FPS, whereas Performance Mode targets 60 FPS and prioritizes smoother gameplay over visual quality.
- Implemented the use of adaptive triggers and haptic feedback on PS5 DualSense controllers.
- Added Activity Cards for PS5.
- Added a cross-progression feature between platforms. Your latest saves will be automatically uploaded to the cloud so you can easily pick up where you left off on other platforms. Cross-progression provides the latest save for every save type. This feature becomes available after you log into your account.
- By signing up to MY REWARDS in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, players can receive:
- • Swords of the Nine-Tailed Vixen
- • White Tiger of the West Armor
- • Dol Blathanna Armor Set
- • Roach Card
- Added a new side quest, In The Eternal Fire's Shadow, in Velen. Rewards are inspired by Neftlix's The Witcher series.
- Added an alternative appearance for Dandelion inspired by Netflix's The Witcher series. You can enable it in Options → Gameplay.
- Added an alternative Nilfgaardian Armor set inspired by Netflix's The Witcher series. You can enable it in Options → Gameplay.
- Added Chinese and Korean voice-over. Availability on consoles varies by region.
- Various improvements and changes to Russian voice-over, including fixes for accelerated / slowed lines in the vast majority of scenes.
Quality of Life Changes
- Added a Quick Sign Casting option. It allows signs to be switched and cast without opening the radial menu. You can find it in Options → Gameplay.
- Added a new default map filter. The new filter hides some icons such as "?" and boat icons in order to reduce icon clutter on the map. These icons can be turned back on with the “All” map mode toggle.
- Adjusted the minimum height for fall damage, allowing the player to survive falls from higher heights.
- Herbs can now be instantly looted with a single interaction – without the additional loot window.
- Added options that dynamically hide the minimap and quest objectives when not in combat or using Witcher senses. You can find it in Options → Video → HUD Configuration → Hide minimap during Exploration and Hide objectives during Exploration.
- Added the option to slow walk when playing with a controller. You can now slow walk by lightly pushing the left stick forward.
- Added an alternative sprint mode option when playing with a controller. It's activated by tapping the left stick. You can find it in Options → Control Settings.
- Added an option to make target-lock unnaffected by camera inversion. You can find it in Options → Control Settings.
- Improved the radial menu so bombs, bolts and pocket items can now be switched dynamically without opening the inventory.
- Added the option to scale the font size for subtitles, NPC chatter and dialogue choices. You can find it in Options → Video → HUD Configuration.
- Added various other small fixes, tweaks, and quality of life changes, including a few secrets to be discovered by players.
- Added the mod Full Combat Rebalance 3 by Flash_in_the_flesh which includes balance changes and various fixes to gameplay. We took a curated approach to this mod, with some elements further tweaked from what you’ll find in the mod by default, while other elements were omitted.
- Scavenger Hunt: Wolf School Gear - Fixed an issue where the chest at the Signal Tower couldn't be opened.
- From Ofier's Distant Shores - Fixed an issue where the diagram in the chest at the bandit's hideout could be missing.
- Hard Times - Fixed an issue where Geralt couldn't talk or give the letter to the blacksmith.
- Swift as the Western Winds - Fixed an issue where the quest could sometimes fail despite winning the horse race.
- Echoes of the Past - Fixed an issue where, after defeating the Foglets, the quest could get stuck and it wouldn't be possible to talk to Yennefer.
- Wine Wars - Fixed an issue where the quest couldn't be completed if the player destroyed one of the required monster nests during exploration.
- Fixed an issue where clearing the Ruined Inn Abandoned Site situated on the southern shore of Ard Skellig was not possible in certain scenarios.
- Fixed an issue where the Grandmaster Wolven Set wouldn't require Mastercrafted items.
- Various small fixes to quests and cutscenes.