Nintendo fans rejoice, for one of the best games to ever grace the market has finally been given a well deserved Switch Port! The Witcher 3!
For some, you might be asking yourself what the Witcher 3 is and where are the other 2 games if this is the 3rd? Well, you won’t be alone in questioning this. This is the first port that Nintendo has ever had from any of the Witcher games so if you haven’t heard of this series, I do not blame you one bit. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a 2015 vast open-world action role-playing game developed and published by CD Projekt, based on The Witcher series of fantasy novels by Andrzej Sapkowski. It is the sequel to the 2011 game The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. Played in an open world with a third-person perspective, players control protagonist Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter known as a witcher, who is looking for his missing adopted daughter on the run from the Wild Hunt: an otherworldly force determined to capture and use her powers. Players battle the game’s many dangers with weapons and magic, interact with non-player characters, and complete main-story and side quests to acquire experience points and gold, which are used to increase Geralt’s abilities and purchase equipment. Its central story has several endings, determined by the player’s choices at certain points in the game.
The Witcher 3 opens with Geralt in search of multiple people, namely former love interest Yennifer and his former ward/adopted daughter, Ciri, both of whom appear to be the object of the attention of the nightmarish Wild Hunt. The story rapidly spirals outward, involving kings and their agents, aligning the political machinations of sorceresses and rulers both with and against Geralt as he seeks to find Ciri and unravel the mystery of her disappearance — and just what the Wild Hunt wants from her. There is also a mini-game within the game called Gwent, which is a turn-based card game between two players, with each game taking three rounds. Each player must play one card each turn from a deck of at least twenty-five cards. Each deck belongs to a faction that offers different play styles. Each faction has different “leaders” who each have individual abilities. As Gwent does not use a mana system like most traditional CCGs, card advantage is often what wins the game. Gwent is also now a stand-alone multiplayer online card game, and I would be happy to go into more detail about Gwent at a later time, but this review is about The Witcher 3, so let’s get back to it!
As mentioned before, The Witcher 3 is an open-world adventure roleplay game. Everything you see, for the most part, you can travel to and explore and because of this, you can imagine the amount of content that is jam-packed in this game. There are a total of 405 total quests including side quests and expansion quests. If a player were to 100% the game you could expect to spend anywhere from 75 to 200 hours going from location to location killing monsters, solving political disputes and putting the dead to rest. A lot of the game mechanic is focused around conversation, most of the quests in the game will allow players to make choices that can impact the rest of the game. Very early on in the game, you have to make a decision to save a local drunk who burnt down the town’s Dwarven blacksmith or help the Dwarf by catching the drunk. Depending on your action will impact both the dwarf, the player, and the town so it is very important to weigh all your possible options.
The Witcher 3 is a visually stunning game, with beautiful graphics and amazing attention to detail that truly helps immerse the player into the world. On the PS4 or Computer, you can truly see every last detail from Geralt’s hair flowing in the wind to small bits of dust and rain and just minor environmental details that make the world feel alive. But how does it hold up on the Nintendo Switch? Obviously, the game does not look as good as it would on a PS4 or Computer, but that does not mean the game is still not absolutely stunning to look at. Small details are still seen, like Geralt’s luscious locks flowing in the wind as he rides along Roach, his trusty steed. Something that I noticed right away and was very impressed with was just the environment as a whole. I first played this game on the PS4 and the environment is so massive, specifically the backdrop and the one scene that comes to mind is at the very beginning of the game when you are in Kaer Morhen and you see the beautiful mountainscape in the background. When I first saw this backdrop in the Nintendo Switch version, I was truly impressed with the work Saber Interactive did on porting this game. Where the quality of the scenery is lower, it is still impressive.
As you can imagine, having a game as massive as the Witcher 3 ported to the Nintendo Switch does not come with its share of issues. I noticed a lot of the more prevalent issues were seen when the Switch was in docked mode and played on the big screen. Two things stood out to me right away when playing on the docked mode, the FPS and resolution. It seems that most players are reporting that the resolution is around the 540p and sometimes it will even dip below that depending on the location or when fighting and exploring the world. The frame rate (FPS) drops drastically from the locked-in 60 FPS from the other platforms, for most of the game the fps are around 25 unless you are in heavily populated cities, then you can expect the frames to drop even further. For some players, these aspects may make the game unplayable, because god forbid you to play a game below 1080p and FPS below 60. But when playing, I really stopped noticing the fps and resolution issues very shortly after starting the game and I really only noticed it again when stepping away from the game to take a break. The game’s story and sheer gameplay truly take away from the more obvious performance issues.
Now, like I said those issues are seen in docked mode, but what if you play in handheld mode, how does it hold up? Playing in handheld mode is literally the best. There is no competition, the frames tend to drop less and seem to be higher than 25 and the resolution is so much better when playing in this mode. I was very surprised when playing in handheld mode as well, there have been plenty of games in the past that were made to be played on a PC so the text and user interface (UI) is extremely small without giving the player options to adjust them, but surprisingly enough the Witcher port has no issues with the UI in Handheld mode. The text is easy to read and the UI is user-friendly as well. As for now, there are no Nintendo Switch specific features released with The Witcher 3, like gyro control aiming or anything like that. I feel like gyro aiming would have been a great addition to this game or even just motion control! Imagine running around flailing your arms to attack Ghouls and other Monsters of all sorts, this game is made for motion controls.
So how does the Switch port hold up to the counterparts? Honestly, it’s a great port. Sure there are issues here and there with frame rate and resolution, and I’m a little upset that docking the game causes more of these issues than handheld mode but ultimately the port is a huge success. There are no missing NPCs, all of the beautifully scripted cut scenes are in the game and the expansion is also intact. I’d love to see them update some features to implement motion controls and maybe even VR in the future. I feel like the future potential of this game is almost limitless and there is so much the devs can do to add more enjoyment to an already fantastic game.
If you have played the Witcher 3 before, or you own it for PC or another console, I can’t really recommend buying it for the switch. The game looks and feels so much better when played on a PS4 or Xbox and when on PC you can even download mods to enhance the game and add additional features. However, if you have not played this game nor do you own it, I would absolutely recommend taking a look at the Witcher 3 for the Nintendo Switch. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt released for Nintendo Switch October 15th for the suggested retail price of $59.99.