The Witcher 3 gets photo mode, cross save, Netflix armors, ray tracing

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CD Projekt Red detailed the new features coming to the next-gen upgrade for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in a Twitch stream Wednesday. They include a photo mode, cross-progression, a quick cast control system for signs, a new camera, and a raft of new UI options and quality-of-life improvements.

As previously announced, the update will bring ray tracing to consoles (PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, in new native versions of the game) and Windows PC. Other new graphics technologies include ambient occlusion, screen-space reflections, dynamic resolution scaling, and on PC, support for the FSR and DLSS upscaling techniques that can improve frame rate.

Consoles will get the now standard-issue performance and quality modes; performance targets 60 frames per second, while quality runs at 30 fps and adds ray tracing. (The game will run at 30 fps on Xbox Series S.) Even if you choose performance mode, the game will look significantly better than the previous PS4 and Xbox One version — closer to Ultra settings on PC, according to CD Projekt Red. Meanwhile , PC power users get new Ultra Plus settings to let them really push their rigs.

Characters, monsters, and the environment have all been upgraded, with reworked grass and foliage, more detailed models and higher-resolution textures, and new details like smoke from villages in the far distance, new weather conditions, or 3D-modeled cobblestones in the capital city, Novigrad.

As well as adding the much-requested photo mode, the developers at CD Projekt Red — many of them members of the original The Witcher 3 team, pulled off Cyberpunk 2077 to work on the upgrade — have added a new camera, closer to Geralt and off to one side, similar to the view in recent God of War games. This can be toggled on or off independently for different states — exploration on foot, horse-riding, and in combat.

Players who prefer a magic-using Signs build will find a new control option called Quick Cast, which allows the player to hold down the right trigger and then access different Signs, or spells, directly with the face buttons rather than selecting them one by one from a radial menu.

Cross-progression, already implemented in Cyberpunk 2077, works through GOG Galaxy accounts and allows players to port their saves between all platforms.

New armor sets inspired by Netflix’s The Witcher will be added to the game (including its last-gen versions), and these are introduced with a new quest, which CD Projekt Red teased without revealing much about it. The quest will reward schematics for the new armor, which will still need to be crafted.

A new default map filter removes the question marks that litter the map, indicating points of interest such as bandit camps, powerful monsters, or treasure chests. This is to bring these mini-events closer to the original intention of having players discover them organically while playing the game, rather than compulsively hunting them all down. However, these, along with the icons showing where to find boats, can be reinstated with a simple filter choice. You can also choose a new clean UI mode that removes the minimap and quest objectives when out of combat, while also allowing them to be brought up quickly with a button press.

The developers have worked through a laundry list of community requests, including a slow walk mode, the option to move sprint to a click on an analog stick, and fixes for famously broken quests (which should apply retroactively to your save). Two big ones are subtitle scaling, allowing for larger font sizes, and the ability to pause cutscenes. And finally, the game has been fully voiced in Chinese for the first time.

Not bad for a free upgrade. The next-gen upgrade for The Witcher 3 comes out on Dec. 14

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