Shortly after performing a full analysis of The Witcher 3 Next-Gen on Xbox Series X and PS5, those folks over at Digital Foundry are back to do a full once over of the Xbox Series S version of CD Projekt RED's RPG.
Much like the Series X and PS5 analysis showed us, The Witcher 3 on Xbox Series S is a bit of a mixed bag overall. DF notes that those input latency problems present in the quality mode on Xbox Series X are still here, even if the overall performance at 30FPS is better thanks to a lack of ray tracing on Xbox Series S.
"Looking at performance, Series S impresses initially, hitting a rock-solid 30fps, no matter what I threw at the console and no matter which of the classic stress points I used. Even in the Heirarch Square, which is a real CPU stress-test for PS5 and Series X, there are zero issues.
Series S has the same high NPC count as those much more powerful consoles, although without the ray-tracing features, and it's absolutely holding 30fps, unlike the two more expensive machines."
That lack of RT is a bit of a bummer, but at least the frame rate holds up nicely. However, over in the performance mode, the Xbox Series S version doesn't fare quite as well. There are some major frame rate drops in the machine's 60FPS performance mode, dropping down to the low 40s in that aforementioned stress point; the Heirarch Square.
"Unfortunately, it's not a solid 60fps lock by any means. For most horseback riding in the wilds, Series S hits the mark mostly, but there are significant dips anywhere around Novigrad's centre, with lurches down to the low 40s as we go through Heirarch Square.
This is much worse than PS5 and Series X are in their own performance modes, and truly is the very worst performing section of the game we've found."
The performance mode does improve in more open, less NPC-dense areas, but it's still a very varied experience overall on Xbox Series S. It seems the 30FPS quality mode option is the more stable way to play right now, although with that mode's input delay issues, DF finds it hard to fully recommend either mode right now.
"It's a strange situation but the verdict is similar to the one we had on the two premium machines. The Series S Complete Edition needs a bit more time and some more work to iron out its rough points.
Fundamentally there's a great release of The Witcher 3 for Series S owners here, and it's perhaps just a patch or two away from where we need it to be."
Ultimately, it looks like the Witcher 3 is still a whale of a time on Xbox Series S despite some lingering performance issues, which sounds very similar to our own Xbox Series X experience at launch. We're hoping CDPR cleans this one up in the new year, so we can all enjoy a more consistent current-gen version of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.