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Digital Foundry: How does The Witcher 3 on Switch compare to PS4 and PC on Low?


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In terms of visual features, we settled on two comparisons - PlayStation 4 and PC. We can look to the Sony console as the ideal that Saber and CDPR might have strived to match, while the PC game configured to 720p on low settings is closer to the reality the developers were likely to deliver.


720p is the highest we've seen the game render at while docked, dropping to 960x540 in our tests at lowest, seen while panning past the city in Toussaint.

Handheld play works the same way as docked - a dynamic pixel count that adjusts based on load. Here Switch uses 960x540 as the top number, but drops steeply where it needs to. Pick a busy street in Novigrad for example, and the lowest reading comes in at just 810x456

NPCs are drawn at half frame rate at distance:
their draw distance is compromised on Switch, but the rendering range on NPCs is generous enough to cram everyone in. The only snag is that the frame-rate on characters is halved towards the distance.

Pop in issues:
Beyond the inevitable blurriness, there are further downsides. The first is pop-in; often it's well-handled, but Switch has limits in how quickly it can draw everything in. The big trouble spot is cut-scenes; fast camera cuts overwhelm the system, and the way geometry flickers in and out can be pretty glaring. Detail-rich areas such as Novigrad can also push the streaming systems hard, resulting in pop-in that varies on repeat tests.

Textures, filtering and sound quality also take a hit:
The Witcher 3's drive for compression also has an impact beyond FMV quality. Textures and sound also take a hit. Texture assets and filtering are of a notably lower quality, where a form of trilinear filtering is used which adds to the generally blurry look

Foliage density compared to PS4:
There are few surprises in terms of console comparisons. Beyond the resolution drop, shadows, textures, and LODs are altered. Panning around the outskirts of Novigrad, foliage density is pruned back significantly. It's all reined in, creating a generally less filled out world - at a distance anyway - on Switch. It's amazing what's achieved on a smaller, less powerful system, but the trade-off to make it happen can't be overlooked.

Docked performance:
And while there are some notable dips, the bulk of the time in areas like Velen - at least outside towns - delivers a mostly solid 30fps. Docked play is solid, but dense areas like Novigrad will see performance drop to something closer to 20fps.

Portable performance:
Portable play is similar, but not quite as robust overall. Once again, we're looking at 30fps, but when taxed in stress points it'll go into the 20s



Overall, Saber and CDPR hit an impressive bar of quality here. Clearly, performance can vary, but on balance it holds 30ps more often than I expected. The Witcher 3 Complete Edition pruned back everything it can to be playable, while still somehow retaining a lot of its best visual features. Graphical points like reflections, light shafts, water physics, and even a high NPC count are incredible to see on a handheld.


This is close to perfection. The only thing you more you could ask for is a cloud-based mechanism, to transfer PC save games to Switch and vice-versa. The feature worked brilliantly in Divinity: Original Sin 2 and suits a massive-scale adventure game like this one. Being able to play an uncompromised experience at home on PC, and swapping seamlessly over to Switch for portable play, would delivered the best of both worlds for the most ardent Witcher 3 players. And I really should stress that the handheld experience is very special overall. In fact, it's a stunning technical showcase for the Switch and a credit to the developers at Saber Interactive and CD Projekt RED.



ArsTechnica -- “The Switcher” is real: Witcher 3 on Switch is a blurry, tolerable compromise



If you don't have any other consoles or a decent gaming PC, then "Switcher 3" is absolutely playable. (Plus, in my personal opinion, it's better than Switch's Skyrim as an on-the-go RPG, even with low resolutions and other visual compromises.)



tl;dr: If you're looking for a mobile version of TW3, this is actually fantastic as it plays at a pretty stable 30fps and works. If you have any other option, it's pointless at docked because it'll look blurry, messy and antiquated.

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  • 4 months later...

It also looks a lot better on switch now. Improvements to performance, touch screen for hud and gwent, further grass draw (and it moves when you brush against it now), but much more noticeably you can get rid of the horrible blur through either turning off the taa, adding sharpening, or a combination. The difference is huge.

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