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Game developer CD Projekt Red released The Witcher 3 in 2015 to universally positive reviews. The game looked stunning at release, but it has been seven years. The company has been working on a next-gen update for The Witcher 3 with enhanced visuals, and it’s finally available. However, PC players are reporting serious performance issues, even on the most powerful systems. This is, unfortunately, becoming a trend for CD Projekt Red.
Any mention of poor performance in a CD Projekt Red (CDPR) title will no doubt call to mind the Cyberpunk 2077 debacle. After a decade of development, CDPR released the game in late 2020 with a host of bugs and unacceptable sluggishness on the PS4 and Xbox One X. Meanwhile, the PC version was playable, though you needed powerful hardware to enable most of the visual effects. This time, it’s the other way around — the console version of The Witcher 3 next-gen update runs fine on the PS5 and Xbox Series X, but the PC version is broken.
One of the biggest issues appears to be ray tracing, which has been common in games for the last several years but is new for The Witcher 3. This graphical technology generates realistic lighting by simulating the physical behavior of light. You need a video card from the last several generations to do ray tracing, but even the most powerful GPUs are stumbling in The Witcher 3. Gamers report that flipping on ray tracing sends frame rates plummeting into the 30-40 fps range, even with Nvidia’s brand new RTX 40 series.
Sad to see how bad the game performs. Update seems like its the mods + RT thrown into the game without any real optimisation.
— Arcane_Luzion🏳️🌈 (@ArcaneLuzion) December 14, 2022
Even those who have foregone (or can’t run) ray tracing are having a substandard experience. While the game might be rendering at higher frame rates, players report constant stuttering that makes the frame rate feel much lower. Resolution scaling and DLSS also produce strange artifacts, though they do bump the frame rate a bit. The problems extend beyond the visuals, too. The Witcher 3 has maintained its popularity over the years, fostering a thriving mod community. CDPR aimed to preserve mod functionality, publishing a list of mods that would continue working. However, several of them appear broken.
CDPR is not charging for the new version of The Witcher 3 — it’s a free update for everyone who previously bought it. Still, the developer did break a game people paid for, even if it’s been seven years. Steam gamers can revert back to the old version in the client’s beta options. That might be the way to go for anyone in the middle of a playthrough. Those who were planning to replay the game when the next-gen update launched should give it some time. CDPR has yet to make a public statement, but we can only hope the team is working to fix these issues.