The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Complete Edition (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Chris Leebody 31.10.2019

Review for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Complete Edition on Nintendo Switch

Based on a series of books by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher tells the story of Geralt of Rivia; a monster hunter who meets a whole cast of interesting characters across this supernatural series of war and intrigue. The tales have given birth to short stories, novels and even a TV show. However, it was in 2007 when developer's CD Projekt (now CD Projekt Red) brought the series into a video game for the first time, released on PC. A sequel followed in 2011, before a console release a year later. Finally, the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt came around in 2015, with the Complete Edition following; unveiling a completely non-linear and open-world format, taking Geralt across an epic adventure. The Nintendo Switch version is something of a surprise follow-up, and comes packaged with the base game, and both the Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine expansions.

In the internet age it is rare to have any surprises in life anymore. That is even truer when it comes to video games, due to the endless leaks on social media concerning the next big release on the horizon. Therefore, when Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Complete Edition was unveiled for the Nintendo Switch, it was one of those moments that genuinely took the audience aback. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - the last in the trilogy surrounding the story of white haired Witcher, Geralt of Rivia - features a huge and complex open-world, and it pushed the boundaries of powerful systems and consoles. The fact that such a title could run on the Switch was seen previously as something of an internet meme.

Well as of October 15th, this is no longer the case. This game, including all its expansions, has been packed into a Switch 32GB cartridge. That alone is remarkable, but what is more so incredible is just how playable this experience is. For those not familiar with the lore of the series, and who have never played any previous titles, The Witcher 3 thankfully doesn't represent an incomprehensible jumping in point. While a number of significant characters do come back into the frame, this does a reasonable job at explaining these figures in a coherent manner.

Screenshot for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Complete Edition on Nintendo Switch

Essentially Geralt is part of a race of mutated monster hunters, operating in a warring world between the Kingdoms of Nilfgaard and Redania. The Witcher 3 begins with him on a quest to track down his ward, Ciri, who is on the run from a band of supernatural warriors known as the 'Wild Hunt.' From there, this mammoth adventure takes place over continents and features a huge branching story and hundreds of quests. What is still so considerably amazing, even coming back to the game years after playing it on PC originally, is that unlike most other RPGs, the side-quests are so intricately designed and relevant. CD Projekt Red made what could have been bland and boring retrieval tasks, into what are essentially dozens of small, mini-adventures.

From tracking down wild beasts, to clearing a curse, or even just getting drunk, Geralt grows as a character through these many interactions, with the colourful cast of characters throughout. More than most, The Witcher 3 raises the standards of what to expect when it comes to lore building in open-world games. Add in the fact that most of those quests have some element of player choice and the experience is even more refined. In the aftermath of the original release of the title, there was a significant amount of online discussion and debate concerning the combat in the game. Particularly when it came to the comparison with that other behemoth franchise, Dark Souls. It is true to say that the Witcher 3's combat is more simplistic than that of Dark Souls. Where the latter prides itself on its patient and weighty encounters, the former relies more on portraying the balletic fluidity of the Witcher.

The bottom line is that this is highly satisfying from a combat point of view. Granted, there is a case to be made that it ever-so-slightly feels as if the player is having to compete with Geralt's animations. For example, it is not altogether unusual to find him halfway through a sword-swinging pirouette, when the player needs him to be turning around and blocking an oncoming hit. However, this is a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things. It is pleasing, specifically when it comes to the Nintendo Switch, just how workable this is on a controller. The game is, possibly surprisingly, very comfortable to use when undocked and on-the-move. With combat being on the more forgiving side of things, it alleviates much of the frustration - even with things such as cycling between potions and bombs, or casting one of Geralt's spells functions very efficiently using the left-trigger buttons.

Screenshot for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Complete Edition on Nintendo Switch

Of course, one of the other impressively cool things about The Witcher 3 is that combat is just one facet of the adventure. The game combines several mechanics. Of particular note is the use of Geralt's 'Witcher Sense,' which allows him to pick up scents, see trails in the ground, or hear far-off noises. What this ensures in gameplay terms, is that many quests take on a sort of detective angle, with Geralt gathering clues, or tracking someone down. Sure, when said person is tracked down, more often than not, a resolution can be achieved through dialogue as well as combat. In terms of what constitutes a truly great role-playing-game, this is the standard.

Time to talk about one of the most important questions most have. Graphically, Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on Switch is a compromise, no question about that. Textures are much flatter, there are regular cases of pop-in, and possibly most noticeable is the general veneer of blurriness that accompanies much of the huge world in this 80-hour adventure. The interesting thing in that regard, however, is that it seemingly could be addressed quite easily. YouTube viewers may indeed have seen some footage of the Switch version running with the full developer settings open. Those videos showed that a relatively simple adjustment on the level of anti-aliasing and a few other tweaks, made a big difference to blurriness without a noticeable impact on frame rate. It is definitely something the developers could take on board for future patches.

Screenshot for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Complete Edition on Nintendo Switch

Speaking of framerate. Again, this is definitely a compromise, with action locked to 30FPS while travelling around the world. Some intensive cut-scenes can see this drop down to around 25FPS, and this is mirrored in some of Velen's bigger cities. With the Nintendo Switch's much more modest hardware, while this is a step-down, it is in many ways a fully acceptable and understandable compromise. Particularly in undocked mode, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is categorically the best-looking game on the Nintendo Switch, even taking into account these downgrades. Pleasingly, load times across the board are also incredibly fast. It was impressive that the adventure is not hampered by having to wait around and stare at loading bars. This can probably be put down to the cartridge format. All the data is on the cartridge, as well, so there is no need for any space-intensive additional files required to download.

Finally, special mention has to go to the sound design in The Witcher 3. This isn't specific to the Switch necessarily, but particularly noticeable again is just how fantastic this aspect of the game is. Geralt isn't the most emotive of individuals, but voice actor Doug Cockle does an awesome job of teasing out his rare moments of sarcasm, humour and compassion, while delivering his trademark brand of no-nonsense pragmatism. The musical score is equally as wide-ranging, with standard trekking across the landscape accompanied by a bleak and imposing eastern European inspired score.

Screenshot for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Complete Edition on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Complete Edition is a fantastic game in its own right. A blockbuster adventure spanning up to 100 hours; an encyclopaedia-like, lore-filled world to explore; dozens of types of enemies to fight; hundreds of quests, side-activites and things to discover; and an engaging, and brilliant story. It is truly a tour-de-force - the new standard for open-world adventures. The Switch version might be a downgrade, but to even have such an experience in this portable package is a stellar thing indeed. There are compromises to be made on the graphics front, but make no mistake, this is still by far the most impressive looking title on the console, in terms of the whole package. The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt on Switch is guaranteed to keep any commuting gamer occupied, and for those playing at home, it still does justice to the quality of this rip-roaring adventure.

Developer

CD Projekt Red Studio

Publisher

CD Projekt Red Studio

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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