The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Next-Gen Update Xbox Series S Review

by David Sanchez December 23, 2022 @ 3:00 pm

The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt Next-Gen Update Xbox Series S Review

Reviewed on Xbox Series S

We live in an age where it’s very easy to forget about something really cool and move on to the next thing. This is the case with movies, comics, music — almost every form of entertainment, really. Video games are a little different, though. Maybe it’s because we get countless HD remasters, re-releases, and Switch ports, but titles like Skyrim, Dark Souls, and Breath of the Wild are still spoken of to this day. Another such game is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Now a seven-year-old game, Witcher 3 is still spoken quite highly of due to its expansive open world, quest design, and cinematic style. That’s why the Next-Gen Update for The Witcher 3 is so interesting — it gives folks even more reasons to talk about CD Projekt RED’s famed RPG almost a decade later. And thankfully, those reasons are all pretty great for the most part.

Witcher 3 Next-Gen Performance on Xbox Series S

We’ll talk about the gameplay of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in a bit. But first, let’s get down to the reason you’re probably here: Let’s talk about what the Next-Gen Update brings to the table.

The first thing to note is that the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 versions of The Witcher 3 Next-Gen Update feature two modes: Performance and Ray Tracing. The Xbox Series S version is a little different in that it doesn’t feature Ray Tracing Mode, but rather Quality Mode.

Performance Mode on Xbox Series S does a few things. First, it delivers a smooth, impressive, and seamless 60fps gameplay experience. That’s awesome, especially in a game with a world as vast, dynamic, and populated as that of The Witcher 3. Playing in Performance Mode, you’ll notice just how quick and smooth movement and animations are. This is great for exploring the countryside, but it’s practically invaluable during combat, which often requires fast reflexes and good timing.

The drawback of Performance Mode is that you will notice less overall detail. On the one hand, it’s not that bad when you’re looking at objects off in the distance and you see less foliage, for example. That said, if you’ve got a keen eye for textures, you might be a little disappointed to see that some flowers, trees, or architecture that you’re standing next to aren’t as sharp as they would be in Quality Mode.

It’s not a huge loss, and I would personally take the smoothness of 60fps over some sharper shrubbery any day. That said, I can’t help but wish that I could have my cake and eat it, too.

Now, if you’re all about that sweet visual fidelity and you’re playing Witcher 3 on Xbox Series S, Quality Mode is going to be for you. While the Series S lacks the Ray Tracing Mode found on Series X and PS5, Quality Mode is still kind of a graphical beast, and it does some really cool things. For starters, everything has much sharper detail. Trees, buildings, even the ground! Everything looks much richer. You’ll also see more of everything out in the distance, too, which is cool.

On the flip-side, though, Quality Mode does drop the framerate down to 30fps, which is super noticeable, especially if you already scoped out Performance Mode. While the fidelity of everything you’re looking at is higher, you’re also dealing with motion that looks and feels much more sluggish. It feels incredible playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt at 60fps, so that drop in framerate is kind of hard to tolerate in Quality Mode, even if the game as a whole looks much better.

Performance Mode or Quality Mode?

When it comes down to it, it’s all about personal preference regarding Performance Mode and Quality Mode in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Next-Gen Update. For what it’s worth, both modes look great overall and take advantage of the new-gen hardware beautifully. Obviously, Quality Mode offers more visual fidelity and a richer overall experience in terms of its graphics. That said, at 30fps, you’ll also feel the slower pace of the movement.

For me, it was nice spending some time in Quality Mode, but Performance Mode won out. This is because it still looks really good, but it also provides a smoother gameplay experience. In a game where moving from point A to point B on horseback as well as battling multiple foes at once are big parts of the gameplay, a more fluid-feeling adventure is kind of a big deal.

The Witcher 3 in 2022

Okay, so now let’s discuss The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt as a game you’d play in 2022.

For some, video games are a one-and-done deal. You play a game. Maybe you do everything that game has to offer. Maybe you don’t. But when you see the credits roll, you move on. You might appreciate the experience, but you don’t really look back save to heap some rightful praise on said game in hindsight. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying something and then moving on to something else.

Other folks, though, might love a game so much that they revisit it several times. Maybe they even revisit it once a year as part of an annual ritual. Whatever the case may be, if you love a game and you’re devoted to it, that game could be something you play repeatedly.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an interesting one, because ultimately, it’s a game that has passed the half-decade mark, and as such, there are things about it that haven’t aged as well as others. The open world is still stunning. It’s awesome to get lost in the massive map’s depth and fall into random optional quests, aid NPCs in need of help, and explore the vast land.

In addition, while the story can be hit-or-miss overall, the presentation, characters, and performances are all pretty awesome. I never found myself fully invested in the plot of The Witcher 3, but I did get lost in the voice work and performances, because all of that stuff is mostly top-notch.

The combat of Witcher 3 is a slightly different story. Oh, it’s still fun, especially if you get into depth of customization, crafting, and alchemy. That stuff is really fun, especially if you dig the kinds of character-building systems seen in these types of RPGs. But the actual battling-enemies-part isn’t perfect. You’ve got melee attacks as well as spells you can cast to knock enemies back, set them on fire, and so on. It’s functional for the most part, but it does feel a little sloppy and very much like the product of a game released in 2015.

If you’ve already played Witcher 3, you’ll know if you want to revisit it again. If you’ve never played it, you might be wondering how a seven-year-old game holds up. Well, there’s a reason people are still talking about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and there’s a reason CD Projekt RED pulled the trigger on this Next-Gen Update. Yes, the game is still pretty awesome even after nearly a decade. The combat is a little sloppy and sluggish, but it’s still entertaining. That open world and quest design, though, are absolutely enjoyable and make The Witcher 3 worth playing.

Score: 8 out of 10

Follow this author on .