Four years after its release, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt remains one of the most technically impressive games of this generation. So to see it running on the Nintendo Switch seems too good to be true, but unsurprisingly, there is a big trade-off here. The textures are muddy, the draw distances are poor, and the frame rate is less than ideal. However, if you can overlook the port’s technical shortcomings, there is something very enticing about taking one of 2015’s best games on the go.
Over the course of my two-hour demo, I explored Velen, Toussaint, Kaer Morhen, White Orchard, Skellige, and Novigrad. What surprised me the most was how consistent it ran between all of these areas. When The Witcher 3 launched in 2015, the swamps in Velen and the denser streets in Novigrad were notorious for causing wild swings in performance. Console players were especially susceptible to low frame rates and stutters while exploring these areas. However, based on what I played, the Switch version seems to handle those areas about as well as it does the other regions.
That being said, don’t confuse this consistency with good performance. If you are looking for a buttery smooth gameplay experience and the portability doesn’t interest you, then you might want to start a new save on PC.
These technical limitations shouldn’t come as a surprise, since the Nintendo Switch is running off a custom mobile CPU and GPU, but if you’ve played The Witcher 3 on PC, Xbox One, or PS4 recently it can be a little jarring to look at in this diminished form. Handheld, the game hits about 25fps at 540p while docked comes in around 720p. However, the resolution is dynamic meaning that it can change depending on what’s on screen. If you are used to playing on the standard PS4 or Xbox One, these lower frame rates may not be a huge issue. PC, PS4 Pro, and Xbox One X users, on the other hand, might have a tougher time getting used to the movement and combat.
Once my eyes adjusted to the lower frame rate and resolution, it felt like I was playing The Witcher 3, and that’s a very good thing. GameSpot gave The Witcher 3 a 10 out of 10 back in 2015 for its top-notch writing and absorbing world. If you still haven’t gotten around to playing it, this might be the perfect opportunity.