Let’s get this out of the way right from the beginning: if you have any other way to play The Witcher 3 other than the Switch, you should play it that way. On the other hand, if you don’t, or are looking for a portable solution in order to bring one of the best games to grace this generation with you anywhere, the newest AAA port to hit Nintendo’s handheld is a great pickup.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it, this version of the game is by far the worst looking one of all, especially if you play it in docked mode. However, as a portable game on the go, The Witcher 3 on Switch makes for one hell of a package, and a singular one at that. Not only does it include the entirety of The Witcher 3 and its two DLC packs, Heart of Stone and Blood and Wine — some of the very best expanded content you could play in any game — it runs ridiculously well, not only in terms of performance, but in loading as well, a surprising turn of events considering how long those could be on the other consoles. And that’s not even mentioning that the entire game fits on a cart, so if you’re lucky enough to pick it up physically, it won’t eat away at your system’s internal storage.
It’s been nearly five years since The Witcher 3 came out, and its influence has been felt in just about every open-world game that’s come out since then. Be it the newest Assassins Creeds, like Assassins Creed Origins, Dying Light, or even the lackluster Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, there are core aspects of CD Projekt Red’s masterpiece that have permeated into the design of these games and a bunch more that’s likely not go away. Stuff like checking off ?s on a map only to open up a bunch of new quests to partake, or the way you can seamlessly go from map to map without any breaks, they’re the type of things that have since become watermarks in the genre, ideas that are so obvious now that are easily noticeable if they’re somehow missing. In more ways than one, The Witcher 3 has been as influential in gaming as Dark Souls, and hey, people don’t get nearly as annoyed when you mention it as a comparison in a review, a plus if there has ever been one to writing about games on the Internet!
I’ve been a huge fan of The Witcher 3 ever since it was announced and having the chance of playing an early version at E3 years back. Having played through and basically 100%ed it on PlayStation 4 though, starting it over on Switch proved to be quite a hill to climb. Something that would’ve made this port perfect would’ve been the addition of some sort of cross save feature that the recent Divinity: Original Sin 2 port on the Switch managed to sport. For 100+ hour games like these, that sort of addition can prove to be a godsend, and it would’ve been the cherry on top of this version of The Witcher 3, since let’s face it, there’s sure to be people getting into it that have made some amount of progress in that game before, and it being incredibly dense and full of collectibles, it’s kind of a slog having to start over.
Technically, as I touched upon before, this is by far the least visually impressive version of all, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the worst. Much more knowledgeable people than me — read, the incredible folks over at Digital Foundry — have already broken down what exactly makes this port so impressive, and what exactly got toned down for it to exist. But from a superficial point of view that someone like me can point at, there are obvious cutbacks, like the decrease in detail, lower resolutions and the overall blurriness to it all that isn’t that apparent while playing portably, but is immediately noticeable if you boot it up on a TV. It’s a game that definitely makes a case for the Switch’s handheld mode, and one that for someone without another gaming system and only one of those, one heck of a buy, no doubt.
Having gone through and gushed about The Witcher 3 more than once, since not only did I review it originally along with one of its DLC, I also named it my game of the year when it came out. Bar none, it’s sure to be my top pick once the new consoles start coming out and I eventually start combing through and coming up with an actual list. There’s no way I would not recommend this game to anyone looking for a solid RPG on the Switch, because even with its drawbacks, it’s still a brilliant game. There are very few other titles based on outside media that manage to capture their source material as well as The Witcher games do, the third one even more.
I in no way consider any of the limitations an impediment to your enjoyment of Geralt’s adventures on the Switch, even more so if it’s your only means to play it. If it isn’t, though, any of the other ports look way better than this, but gameplay-wise, they’re certainly close to a tie. Admittedly, this port tends to show its limitations once there’s a bunch of action going on, but given that even the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions tend to give way sometimes as well, it’s easily forgiven.
All in all, Saber Interactive has pulled off what many considered impossible and have done a truly shockingly good job bringing The Witcher 3 to much weaker hardware than it originally demanded, but in doing so, they have given an even wider audience a chance to enjoy a game that should not be running on that hardware. There are no ifs, ands or buts, The Witcher 3 is an obligatory addition to any RPG fans’ library, Switch or wherever else you can get it.