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One of the most surprising reveals of Nintendo’s E3 2019 Direct show was The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition for Nintendo Switch, given the sheer size and scale of CD Projekt RED’s critically-acclaimed 2015 RPG, and the power of the Switch compared to PS4 and Xbox One.
I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong though, and you can bet I’ll be one of the first in line to play through The Witcher 3 for the fifteenth time when it lands on the home console/handheld hybrid later on this year. Having Geralt accompany me on my morning commute is a prospect that leaves me giddy.
Still, I think a lot of gamers approached the news of The Witcher 3 for Switch with a degree of skepticism. After all, the Switch is a relatively tiny console and The Witcher 3 is a big chungus of a game – surely something had to give in the process of porting the RPG over?
Apparently not, according to CD Projekt RED Senior Producer Piotr Chrzanowski. He’s been working closely with developer Saber Interactive to ensure that this wild port runs as smoothly as Geralt’s silky white hair.
I got the chance to sit down with Chrzanowski during a hands-on event for Switcher, during which he told me that there was ‘never a question’ of cutting anything from the port, which is doubly impressive when you consider that the Complete Edition of the game comes with the Hearts of Stone and Blood of Wine expansions, which are both massive in their own right.
Chrzanowski told me:
We wanted to provide the same experience across all platforms, for people to buy the game on Switch and for it to be the full game, so they can enjoy that. We did what we could to make sure The Witcher 3 on Switch is as it is.
What CD Projekt RED and Saber did to make The Witcher 3 on Switch what it is, is nothing short of black magic. Having been able to spend a few hours with the game in handheld mode, I can confirm that I was actively looking for the catch, for something to be wrong with it, but came up short.
You can find my full impressions here, but apart from a few obvious graphical concessions, such as increased motion blur, reduced draw distance, and less detailed textures and audio, The Witcher 3 on Switch is remarkably close to its counterparts on PS4 and Xbox One.
Chrzanowski explained that they took into account what the Switch could and couldn’t do, and worked within those parameters from the start to slowly build the project up.
“We have 3.5GB of memory available on Switch for the actual usage of the game and we to fit into that”, he told me. “So that kind of gives you some kind of line which you can’t cross when it comes to your textures, how detailed they are, audio quality, and so on. So we looked into those things, of course, and we had to take that into account. We worked along the lines of what we had.”
While it’s great that The Witcher 3 will be the same experience on Switch as it is on PC, Xbox One, and PS4, that also means that you shouldn’t expect any Nintendo exclusive content when the game does launch, as the focus was “on making sure the game is unified across the platforms and that we can say this is the same experience you get from PS4 pro.”
With that said, Chrzanowski told me that Saber and CD Projekt RED did make a few Nintendo-specific tweaks to the game, but these were in service of accessibility (such as increased font sizes), rather than exclusive skins or weapons, or anything like that.
Chrzanowski ‘s comments on ensuring various platforms gets the same experience when it comes to The Witcher 3 echo a recent statement made by CD Projekt RED on Twitter regarding Cyberpunk 2077 and pre-order bonuses. The studio made it clear that “every person that buys Cyberpunk 2077 gets exactly the same in-game content, no matter if they buy it in preorders, on release date or two years later.”
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