Editorials Reviews Previews Essays Worth Playing

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Complete Edition Game review

Game review 14 October 2019, 17:00

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt Switch Review – The Art of Compromise

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt for Nintendo Switch is an ugly duckling. CDPR goes for a compromise – we accept the mediocre graphics, and they bring the best RPG of recent years for a hand-held console. Don't say no.

The review is based on the Switch version.

Life is incredible. When The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt came out in 2015, I wasn’t a gaming journalist yet. I read the reviews scattered across the web like questionnaires on a map, but I didn't think that someday, I would myself have the chance to give my opinion of the very same game. And yet, here we are, the year of our Lord 2019, four years after the original release. The Wild Hunt for Nintendo Switch hits the market, and I get a contract for Geralt.

  1. It's the same, critically-acclaimed Witcher, the undisputed game of the year 2015;
  2. Controls are easy to master;
  3. After all these years, it's still just as compelling – for dozens of hours;
  4. The graphics have their moments (weather and sunsets).
  1. The downgrade is sometimes too overt;
  2. Framerate also dips during cut-scenes;
  3. Rather blurry on a TV.

This was not going to be an easy contract. To say that The Wild Hunt has been thoroughly reviewed by now would be an understatement. Still – this game launching for Nintendo Switch is sort of a big deal, in more than one way. The Switcher – as the community soon dubbed the project – until recently was just a whim; an argument in the debate between fans of Nintendo's latest console and their opponents. The latter usually claimed that chances for Geralt gracing the hybrid system from Nintendo are exactly zero, pointing to the console's specification – which was actually a valid argument. And the former? Well, they probably didn't much care about the Witcher – after all, you don't get the Japanese console to play multi-platform ports.

And yet, here we are. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, followed Skyrim, and released for Switch along with all its expansions – and it is hella playable. Sure, such a port is mostly about the art of compromise. But I think this compromise is as fair as possible.

Visuals definitely got downgraded, but they still look impressive. Especially on a small display screen.

Intoxicated impressionism

Shopping before hitting the trail is always a good idea, says the Witcher codex. You can't run The Witcher 3 on Switch without a memory stick. The game requires at least of 28 gigs, which you will not get by erasing all your games and screenshots you've collected over the years... I should know. Be smarter than me – spare and additional buck for a microSD.

Fun fact:

When I got the code for The Switcher, I was actually during my playthrough of The Witcher 3 on PC, with graphics set to uber. How shocking a change was it? Not that much. The graphical downgrade isn't as glaring on the smaller screen of the Switch, so I soon found myself completely engrossed in the game, just the same. "What can you do?" The conversion was not gentle for character models and equipment. Armor sets aren't as dazzling, and the swords of the witcher have lost some glam.

As always, sunsets look spectacular - you don't need a RTX video card to please your eye.

The first impressions are really good. We have the same intro, then, the exact same main menu. This is actually the first time you might "wow," as Saber, the studio responsible for the conversion, already at this point prove they're not a bunch of amateurs. The graphics may not be razor-sharp, but it was much, much better than I expected. Meanwhile, we hold the good, old witcher in our very hands; corners might have been cut in the graphics department, including the render distance and the resolution, but still. The first moments spent in Kaer Morhen and White Orchard are just as magical. I'll emphasize again: this is exactly the same game, with the same cut-scenes, animations, dialogs, Gwent, and the open world. Sunsets are still stunning! Rays of light rebound from blades, guards, and pieces of armor, the trees are still fabulously flimsy, and the NPCs go about their usual business. Everything's the old way, and if you haven't played The Witcher, and a 50" screen, or 4K at 60 frames per second isn't your ultimate goal in gaming, then don't even hesitate – The Switcher will last your for months..

Who's Geralt talking to?

A few hundred hours of joy on a small cartridge

The Witcher on Switch, comes as the core game plus the two big expansions: Hearts of Stone, and Blood & Wine. After clicking "New Game" you'll be able to start the game from the very beginning, or dive into one of the expansions right away. Nothing stops you from heading directly to Toussaint to have a bottle of mandrake tincture with a certain vampire. There is also the New Game+ for those who enjoy learning games by heart. Unfortunately, Nintendo still doesn't have achievements, so if you like "tangible" rewards for the hard work and invested time, you'll be disappointed.

Geralt in Toussaint abuses wine a lot and that's why he's so blurry.

But still – fitting one of the best RPGs of the 21st century on a small piece of silicon requires sacrifices. After a few hours of exploring Toussaint, I felt a bit... drunk? Not with happiness. The limited render distance takes a visible toll – the world is foggy and blurred, reminiscent of an impressionistic painting. The movement itself takes some getting used to, and combat even more so – the figures are tiny, subtitles tinier, and the dim depth of field further makes you feel as if Geralt really had a few before the fight.

Taking a screenshot during combat, so you may see how it looks like, was a real challenge. Almost every picture looks fuzzy and blurred.

The real shock, however, only comes when you run The Witcher 3 on a TV. I was able to bear it for like two hours, only for the purposes of this review. Playing this way makes all the trade-offs stand out like a sore thumb – from poor textures and framerate, through blurry backgrounds and characters, to loading of elements near the player. Playing on the handheld itself is a much better experience. The console's small screen paradoxically saves the day – first, it's easier for us to accept all the compromises when we're holding a device the size of a bigger GPU, and second, all the pitfalls that stem from the downgrade aren't nearly as conspicuous.

Killing monsters on a tram

We already know the Witcher 3 on Switch isn't beautiful, to put it mildly. Still, complaining about the graphics is borderline nitpicking – nobody expected dazzling graphics from the port, but it could easily by much worse, too. Meanwhile, the shortcomings of the Witcher on Switch stem from the specifics of the console itself – I can't really bemoan loading times (which occur pretty often, especially before cut-scenes, but they're not terribly long), or the stuttering animation that has its ups and downs pretty much across the board – during exploration, in combat, and during cut-scenes.

Nintendo Switch fans have never seen such landscapes before.

The world seems a bit emptier (especially when you go to Novigrad), but it's still the premier league, one of the best-looking games for Nintendo Switch. And this statement is made in full awareness of the competition, which includes The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Dragon Quest XI or Xenoblade Chronicles. Stacking any of those games against the Switcher wouldn't be an obvious choice.

Toussaint in this edition is a little bit uglier, but we get used to it quickly.

So, if you can accept this compromise, you will spend a few dozen hours in the absolutely fascinating world of Geralt, Ciri, Zoltan, and Dandelion. Switcher is just a much uglier twin brother. Even Roach is as daft as ever. The controls were never the easiest (after Red Dead Redemption isn’t hard to even come to terms with some archaic solutions, such as lifeless NPCs, to model of horse riding, or the more symbolic animations), but if you were afraid it's going to be even more difficult in Switch, then rest assured. You will quickly get used to the controls and forget about the problem. For those, who have grown accustomed to the PS4 version, there's also an option to switch to an alternate controller scheme (corresponding to Sony gamepad layout). Nice.

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt Switch Review – The Art of Compromise - picture #3The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt Switch Review – The Art of Compromise - picture #4

Graphics comparison – Nintendo Switch vs PC uber settings

Gwent on the bus

The most glorious advantage of this game is, of course, part of the compromise – in exchange for an uglier Witcher, you're able to take him to school, work, or on a longer journey. I haven't played the game yet in public transportation, being cautious with the embargo, but I suspect kids will soon have a new way to be fancy. But we've fought with Geralt in my bed, talked to people while sipping morning coffee, or played Gwent in the Sun, on my balcony. It's nice to take your hobbies wherever you want, and Nintendo's console gives you exactly that opportunity with the port of the Witcher 3. And for that, the game deserves a lot of credit.

Story, characters, dialogues – it's the same good old Witcher 3.

One more thing: Gwent is still Gwent – it's just as much fun as ever, and you can spend much too much time playing it. The guards in Crow's Perch are still as mean and sullen. Vesemir is still a bit too slow, and fails to dodge the Griffin. White Orchard remains a beautiful place, even despite the prevailing war. And the Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is still a cool game, even porting it required significant downgrade.


The first time I finished The Witcher 3 was on a regular PlayStation 4. I am currently playing on PC again, as I said. My counter for the game is now at around 130 hours. I spent more than a dozen hours playing the port, exploring the world and trying to break the game. I played a few rounds of Gwent, met Regis, visited Skellige and roamed the emptyish Novigrad.


We received the review copy of the game from the creators of Witcher 3, CD Projekt RED.

Matthias Pawlikowski | Gamepressure.com

Matthias Pawlikowski

Matthias Pawlikowski

The editor-in-chief of GRYOnline.pl, associated with the site since the end of 2016. Initially, he worked in the guides department, and later he managed it, eventually becoming the editor-in-chief of Gamepressure, an English-language project aimed at the West, before finally taking on his current role. In the past, a reviewer and literary critic, he published works on literature, culture, and even theater in many humanities journals and portals, including the monthly Znak or Popmoderna. He studied literary criticism and literature at the Jagiellonian University. Likes old games, city-builders and RPGs, including Japanese ones. Spends a huge amount of money on computer parts. Apart from work and games, he trains tennis and occasionally volunteers for the Peace Patrol of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity.


Witcher 3 Next-Gen Review: Polished and Pretty
Witcher 3 Next-Gen Review: Polished and Pretty

game review

Fans new and old will appreciate this Next-Gen update to a game that makes this masterpiece shine even stronger. Read on to find out why.

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt Switch Review – The Art of Compromise
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt Switch Review – The Art of Compromise

game review

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt for Nintendo Switch is an ugly duckling. CDPR goes for a compromise – we accept the mediocre graphics, and they bring the best RPG of recent years for a hand-held console. Don't say no.

Review of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on PS4 – A Brilliant RPG That Needs Some Polishing
Review of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on PS4 – A Brilliant RPG That Needs Some Polishing

game review

After testing the PS4 version of The Witcher 3, one thing’s for sure – CD Projekt RED has risen to the challenge and created one of the best RPGs of the last several years. Unfortunately, there's a crack on the surface of this otherwise flawless diamond.

See/Add Comments