The Witcher 3’s Best PS5 and Xbox Series X Upgrade May Have Flown Under the Radar

After CD Projekt Red's recent and very public misstep with Cyberpunk 2077 on consoles, many gamers are likely to return to The Witcher 3 on PS5 and Xbox Series X to get their RPG fix. While the company is still hopeful to release both official next-gen versions of The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 at the end of the year, the next-gen consoles are already making big improvements just through the hardware itself. Load times and frame rate for the acclaimed RPG are pretty significantly improved when running The Witcher 3 through the system's internal SSD.

There are, of course, many other improvements to be made through an official next-gen port that the console hardware just can't do by itself, largely in terms of graphics. Fans that simply can't wait for the next-gen update should not feel bad about jumping in right now on next-gen hardware as it won't be the exact same experience as it was on the eighth generation of consoles. Furthermore, it's entirely possible that The Witcher 3's next-gen update gets delayed into 2022 as many other titles have been this year. The fast-load times alone make now a perfectly good time to experience the end of Geralt's story.

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The Witcher 3's Load Times

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Given that The Witcher 3 can take upwards of 80 hours to complete, players don't want to be wasting precious time during loading screens. The original release of the game was defined by these lengthy loading screens for starting the game, then another when fast traveling, and yet another upon dying. In what seems to be the theme with CD Projekt Red games, subsequent updates helped these loading times and other issues to a degree. Even after updates, it was still common to spend well over a minute waiting before hopping onto Roach once again and hitting the road.

However, backward compatibility allows The Witcher 3 to be played on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S hardware. Granted, these are still just the previous-gen versions (PS4 Pro and Xbox One) and not a fully optimized experience, but the improvements are significant enough to mention. Namely, the super-fast SSD on both consoles allows for near-instantaneous loading. Even fast-traveling, which was the main culprit for long waits on last-gen, has been brought down a lot. Gamers will be hard-pressed to find a loading time that takes longer than 30 seconds when playing The Witcher 3 through backward compatibility.

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The Witcher 3 and Next-Gen Improvements

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As mentioned, these very brief loading times are sure to be even shorter once the officially optimized version releases. The buzzword for the ninth generation of consoles appears to be ray tracing. It seems likely that The Witcher 3 on PS5 and Xbox Series X will also get that in addition to general graphical improvements to make The Continent even prettier than it already was. It also seems very likely that the next-gen versions of The Witcher 3 will have mod-support similar to what Bethesda has done for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4. Should this happen, it's also likely that Sony would not allow external assets in keeping with its position for Bethesda mods.

The loading time improvements for The Witcher 3 on next-gen consoles are something that has not been discussed to the extent it deserves given that it was one of the few gripes of the original release. The fact that simply playing a game from the last generation on brand new hardware is enough to make it feel new should make gamers even more excited for the official version with all the bells and whistles therein. Whether gamers choose to wait for the upcoming next-gen version of The Witcher 3 or start their adventure now, they can rest assured that the load times of last-gen are a thing of the past.

The Witcher 3 is available now for PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One with PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions in development for Q3/Q4 2021.

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