Polish developer CD Projekt Red has been to hell and back with the release of Cyberpunk 2077. The futuristic ARPG originally shipped with major bugs, performance issues and AI problems, and overall felt like it simply wasn’t ready for launch. It got so bad that at one point, Poland’s Office of Competition and Consumer Protection had to step in to ensure the company delivered on its promises to fix the game.

Two years later, CDPR is looking to enter a new and much brighter chapter in its history – with the long-awaited “next-gen” update for The Witcher 3. Unlike Cyberpunk 2077, which admittedly tanked the company’s rep when it first arrived on the scene, the third entry in The Witcher series well and truly established CDPR as a national treasure back in 2015. In fact, it was so successful it actually saw Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy series reach new heights – receiving its very own live-action Netflix show starring Superman himself, Henry Cavill. So, what’s this free upgraded version of The Witcher 3 like and does it restore CDPR to its former glory?

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To be clear, we’re focusing here on what the “next-gen update” brings to the table, although the final review score will take everything into account. If you haven’t played The Witcher 3 before, in short, it’s an epic open-world fantasy RPG set on The Continent, starring Geralt of Rivia – a monster hunter, who must find his “adopted daughter” Ciri, who is being tracked by the big bad Wild Hunt. If you do want to learn more about what exactly The Witcher 3 is all about, we suggest you check out our original Xbox One review.

Right, with that out of the way – this next-generation version of The Witcher 3 is made up of mostly subtle feature improvements over the existing game. There are some quality-of-life changes here and there, some quests have been fixed, a selection of mods have been implemented to "raise the standards of the experience" and CDPR has even thrown in a photo mode, so you can properly capture those amazing sunsets and special moments.

Obviously, the big talking points in this update are the visual enhancements. On Xbox Series X, CDPR has provided players with two options. There’s a performance mode prioritising 60FPS gameplay, and then there’s the quality mode – featuring higher visual fidelity and better resolutions and textures, but with a target frame rate of 30FPS. Our experience with the performance mode has been for the most part silky smooth, and even though it's focused around performance rather than graphics, it's still a definite visual upgrade over what came before.

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As for the quality mode, this option introduces ray tracing – including global illumination and ambient occlusion – and it looks stunning, with light rebounding off surfaces and giving a fresh look to existing environments in all-new ways. That said, we did also experience a few quality mode bugs in our pre-launch build (crashes, flickering and shadow issues), but we've been advised that a patch will hopefully be distributed soon to address "additional performance and quality enhancements". When everything worked as intended (and that was most of the time), it all looked magnificent. Quality mode generally runs fine at 30FPS, although we did notice some dips on occasion in our review build (which hopefully will be ironed out soon as well), but even taking those dips into account, we're still impressed with what quality mode has to offer here, especially in terms of the gorgeous ray-tracing features.

Beyond the graphical upgrades are a curated selection of developer and fan-made mods. Some of these even enhance character models and the environment - with visual improvements to the likes of backdrops, trees and vegetation in the game. Others provide quality-of-life improvements such as UI visibility toggle options, new sprint options and fixes to the minimap. CDPR has also gone to the extent of adding a new “alternative camera” for when you’re walking around as Geralt or riding about on Roach. Then there are improvements like being able to survive fall damage from greater heights and a new quick sign casting feature. Collectively, all of this just adds further polish to this already amazing game and does a great job of making it look and feel better than it did when it first arrived on consoles.

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And this brings us to the “new” questing content in the game. Joining the “next-gen” upgrade is a special quest featuring unlockable items “inspired by The Witcher Netflix series”. We won’t go into spoiler territory here, but it starts outside The Devil’s Pit - located in Velen, not far from Hanged Man’s Tree. You’ll have to make your way down to the mine where a surprise awaits beyond some locked doors. It slots right in there with all the other quests in the game and only makes the Witcher 3 an even greater experience. To top it off, the next-gen update comes with a few other features like additional voice language support for Korean and Chinese, and cross-platform progression – where players can upload cloud saves and then carry their progress over to another platform with their Good Old Games account. Certainly a handy feature if you do find yourself jumping from one platform to another.


Revisiting The Witcher 3 after all the drama with CP2077 takes us back to a time when CD Projekt Red was an unstoppable force. Although we've experienced some minor technical issues with the quality mode on Xbox Series X|S at launch, overall this free update for Witcher 3 is a fantastic package that makes what was already an excellent experience (with two wonderful expansions) an even better one. If you haven’t played The Witcher 3 already and love action RPGs, now is the perfect time to check it out. It's without a doubt one of the greatest games of all time, and if you’ve already fallen in love with it before, you’ll still have a blast reuniting with the White Wolf in this latest update.