First Impressions: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Ideally, you’d be looking at the review right now. Unfortunately, due to code not showing up til Sunday and then problems getting it to run, I’m only just digging into The Witcher 3 [official site] myself. The full verdict will be with you as soon as possible, though it’s a big game and I don’t want to do it or you the disservice of rushing through it just to throw words at the screen. However, here’s a few thoughts from my first few hours of witching, on the opening hours, on the controversial graphics, and my displeasure that it features hair technology that hasn’t been named “TrissFX.” Such a wasted opportunity.

So far, my experiences have been pretty positive. It feels like what I wanted it to be, which is to say a hybrid of the first two games in a new open-world style. From the original, you get the experience of being a Witcher rather than a fugitive and convenient super-soldier, which to my mind detracted a little from the sequel. From the sequel, you get the graphical fidelity, the combat style (following the refinements of the Enhanced Edition rather than the janky absolute original), and an intro featuring a pretty lady’s buttocks. She has two of them. They are beige. More details as they happen.

Not everything is great though. I quickly gave up on using the mouse and keyboard, as while it worked, the combat feels far more natural with my old Xbox 360 controller. I’ve also had more crashes than I’d like, which is to say I’ve had several crashes. This is with Nvidia’s new driver.

In terms of performance, I’m running it on an an i7 960 3.20Ghz with 8GB of RAM and a GeForce GTX 970. That’s enough to play pretty comfortably with all the options switched on, at around 35-45FPS. I quickly went in and did some twiddling though, mostly turning off the fancy hair. This boosted my FPS to a more or less consistent 45-55 so far and I don’t really feel I’ve lost anything. Having it on is okay, though the hair looks oddly silky, and I doubt I’ll notice its absence for long.

As for talk of a visual downgrade… well, yes. Even with all the options on, it doesn’t look as nice as the early screenshots. That’s a shame, especially if the talk of things being stepped down for the sake of cross-platform development is true. However, and here’s what I think matters, it still looks great. A touch flat at times in terms of lighting, but beautifully detailed and lushly decorated with blowing leaves in trees, plants quivering in the rain, peasants going about their business with incidental animations like sharpening a sword and hurling it high into the air to show off. Just looking at the horizon, I can’t wait to explore and see what awaits. Speaking of which, when evening rolls round, the blood-red skies are amazing. Basic skybox tech, sure, but still great art.

But let’s talk specifics. If you want to tweak beyond the presets – Low, Medium, High and Ultra – there are plenty of options. You can set a max FPS along with resolution, plus from the graphics menu, switch NVIDIA HairWorks – which really should have been called TrissFX (marks off list) – on and off, and change the number of background peasants, shadow quality, terrain quality, water quality, grass density, texture quality, foliage visibility range and detail level.

Of course, no hair technology is going to make this guy look good. Gah!

In Post-Processing specifically, you also get toggles for motion blur, regular blur, antialiasing, bloom, sharpening, ambient occlusion (SSAO or HBAO – screen and horizon based, offering increasingly better quality in exchange for performance), depth of field, chromatic aberration, vignetting and light-shafts, which I’m sorry are no longer universally called God Rays. Much better name.

Playing around, the game looks surprisingly good on all of the defaults, including Low – the difference coming more in the details than in great sweeping things like all the textures being replaced with moulded plastic dummies. You’ll get a lot more pop-in graphics. The textures won’t have the same definition. The world will be a bit quieter, not as bursting with life and movement. Overall though, the difference isn’t particularly startling. That said, we are dealing with a game with some hefty system requirements, so it doesn’t really have much excuse to look ugly on anything that can run it.

Probably my favourite thing about the game so far though is that it actually feels like the Witcher experience rather than just an RPG – both in Geralt’s refusal to sort out a griffin plaguing the small starting village until someone stumps up to put a contract out on it, and the general displeasure of just about everyone he sees – something he often makes worse for himself with exactly the wrong smartass comment to exactly the wrong person. Hunting isn’t simply about going after a beast with a sword, but doing the prep-work – finding herbs and doing research and treating a monster as a threat that needs a plan and specialist skills, rather than just a tough guy with a sword. The world has plenty of those, but it doesn’t have many Witchers. Even as Geralt’s continuing quest gives him more reason to question his place in the changing social landscape, that’s something to hold onto.

It’s going to be a long journey, finding his daughter-figure Ciri and lady-love Yennifer and sorting out the spectral Wild Hunt and power-hungry kings already at work in the world, but it’s a journey I’m greatly looking forward to. Full verdict of course coming as soon as possible.


  1. padger says:


    /me pumps internet handle harder

    • SuicideKing says:

      Pumping the internet handle harder will always result in spam.

  2. Yachmenev says:

    Are you playing the game in 1440p resolution, considering you get 45 FPS? I have a pretty similiar rig, with a slightly less powerful CPU, and I get steady 60FPS with most setting on either ultra or high, but that’s in 1080p.

    Hairworks takes to much power though, loose about 10fps when I enable that.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      No, just 1920×1080. But my PC is not a model of efficiency.

    • Choca says:

      Yeah I get constant 60fps with a slightly more powerful setup with everything but the fancy-hair thing on ultra.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      RPS policy appears to be to make random assertions about frame rates without ever specifying a resolution. It’s… unhelpful.

      • spacedyemeerkat says:

        I love Richard’s writing.

        But you’re right about RPS in general leaving out such a crucial titbit of information regarding resolution when discussing frame rates.

      • Cinek says:

        To make it actually helpful they’d have to dedicate entire article for that topic only. There’s no point really, there are other websites that do this kind of stuff.

        • kael13 says:

          So many people do that in general.

          “I totally get 60fps constant with everything on ultra!”

          That’s nice dear, but not very pretty or particularly impressive if it’s on a 680×480 pixel box. I can’t wait for at least 1440p to be the general standard.

  3. montorsi says:

    Forget the griffin. Someone ought to do something about the person who set the wind machine to ‘hurricane’. Geralt is oddly unaffected, except for his peculiarly lively hair, which may be why he hasn’t hunted them down yet.

  4. aircool says:

    I keep dying :(

    • WiggumEsquilax says:

      Step 1) Spend less time swinging your weapon, and more time dodging so that all enemies are in the same direction from you. Avoiding being surrounded is the most important part of Witcher combat; approximately as important as everything else combined. If you fail at this, see Step 2.

      Step 2) Should you get surrounded as we inevitably do, target the enemy whose removal would un-surround you. Then repeat Step 1.

      • aircool says:

        The problem I’m having is moving and pressing buttons. I’m used combat in games like Guild Wars (2) where you use strafe instead of turn. My character in this game runs around in arcs and feels unresponsive in combat.

        Am I just shit, too familiar with mouse & keyboard third person games on the PC, or should I be using a gamepad instead? I’ve got one of those xbox 360 things around somewhere.

        • Jockie says:

          Yeah, I had to switch to the pad, due to repeatedly dying and I had to slide the difficulty down from 3 to 2 as I was still getting my ass handed to me by the griffin.

        • aliksy says:

          Wait, it has the god-awful “pushing A & D rotate you” controls? I hate that.

          • Matchstick says:

            When you lock on to a target, then all your motion is relative to that target, so left and right move you in an arc around them.

            When moving outside combat left and right strafe as you would expect in a 3rd person game.

          • Rumpelstilskin says:

            I don’t think it even has left and right keys. They are not listed in the key bindings and it seems that when locked mouse moves you left and right, otherwise you just can’t strafe at all. Also, oddly, when I try to re-assign ‘A’ to something it says ‘you can’t do that now’.

          • aircool says:

            Yeah… no strafe key. It’s the first thing you change in any third person game as you generally use the mouse for turning.

        • DMusashi says:

          I totally agree, and this is a bizarre game design decision that I can’t believe no one objected to during testing.

          Character movement should be handled like World of Warcraft or Skyrim (or really any third person RPG in the last decade), where WASD are relative to the camera facing, not to the direction that the character is facing. A and D should strafe, not turn – all turning is done with the mouse. Spare us the console/controller fanboyhood.

          For any modern dev team to design a game so that the controls cannot be configured in this way is inexcusable.

          Half my time is spent jockeying with corpses for that perfect position so that I can loot them before Geralt’s jerky momentum carries him too far outside the hitbox to loot and I have to swing around for another pass. It’s laughably bad design in an otherwise fantastic game.

    • K_Sezegedin says:

      Yeah I started on Death March and did the first ghoul fight maybe seven times before just quen’ing it out, still getting beat up then gorging on bread while admiring the ghoul corpses (they don’t disappear for once! That’s a Witcher first)

      I like how there was no checkpoint after the Vesimir/Geralt fireside chat, its like CDPR was thinking –

      “shirley no one will die here….”

      • Unclepauly says:

        Manual saves will not be underutilized.

        • Tacroy says:

          It’s not listed anywhere that I could find, but F5 is quicksave. Useful!

        • Rumpelstilskin says:

          Except you can’t save in combat apparently, and combat starts immediately as the dialog ends (I died there too on “death march” :( )

      • Cinek says:

        “he ghoul corpses (they don’t disappear for once! ” – they do. Only now it takes a bit longer.

        • K_Sezegedin says:

          Yeah well they stick around more than long enough, – its the way it should be done.

          Previous Witchers had them vanish the instant you turned your back.

    • foop says:

      If it’s any consolation, I keep dying too. Usually whilst surrounded by wolves and whimpering peasants, frantically stabbing at the wrong key in an attempt to dodge.

      • aircool says:

        Another ballache bit. I use a Logitech G13 and usually assign dodge to the little thumbstick (which is set to execute the arrow keys). Here you have to press a direction, keep it pressed down and then press the dodge key. I just can’t get the hang of it and end up either doing nothing, or just hitting the dodge key and jumping backwards.

        It’s an odd setup considering that almost every third person game on the PC uses strafe instead of turn, and mouse for turning/camera.

        I’ve had some situations where I can’t get at loot because I can’t get my avatar standing in the right place.

        I’ll try a controller instead :(

        • paddymaxson says:

          Rebind dodge to control instead of alt and try not to rely on locking on as geralt will arkham city style move reflexively to the nearest for when attacking. Get rid of right click for parry and make that heavy attack.

          I have a Logitech g600 and have made the ring finger button parry. Works great. But then I am a die hard dark souls with mouse and kB controls junkie. Considering moving quick item to g (for grenade) and making lock on middle click as I do in souls.

          Playing on the hardest difficulty. Died a lot but no more than most people die on the easier difficulties. In repeated deaths, its scratching a similar itch to souls games by punishing me for treating lesser foes as punching bags.

          • aircool says:

            Switched back to mouse and keyboard as controller was just as shit, but in a different way.

            It’s a strafe thing, the character handles more like a wheelchair, or tiny bicycle than a human.

  5. MiniMatt says:

    So glad you’ve tasked Richard with this one. We do so like his way with words, we do.

    (that’s not to say you’re not all unique and special and lovely and good with words and stuff too)

    “Good with words and stuff”…. yep, English A-level me.

  6. Horg says:

    I see your TrissFX and raise you YenniFur™.

  7. MisterMumbles says:

    With the article’s title pic this was a total missed opportunity to reference to Conan O’Briens latest and quite hilarious Clueless Gamer. Shame on you!

  8. MisterMumbles says:

    Huh. Links don’t show and I can’t edit my posts. Well, here’s the link in plain text then.

    • WiggumEsquilax says:

      When you put up the link, you got nothing. When you put up the link in plain text, you got embedded video. RPS clearly removed the edit function just to screw with you, personally.

  9. GAmbrose says:

    I’ve also had more crashes than I’d like, which is to say I’ve had several crashes. This is with Nvidia’s new driver.

    Yup, same here. A few annoying freeze ups already.

  10. Auldman says:

    I played 90 mins last night. No crashes. GTX 970, I5 3570k, and it ran pretty well with everything cranked up. I did not check fps but it was running really smooth in fights and in the village. If it wasn’t 60 fps I did not notice.

    What I did notice is the color intensity which made things feel like walking through a painting and it could use some toning down. Witcher hardcore fans are probably going to hate me for saying this but hair and beards on npc look no better than Dragon Age: Inquisition and a lot of the foliage does too! So I see a downgrade from the early 35min demo they showed. That said the game is still beautiful and the best part of last night was just trotting around a horse and looking at everything. Yeah I got a Griffin to kill at some point but the folks back home are going to want some photographs. I just hope I won’t bore them with too many shots of me by the river.

    • Rich says:

      Oh, good. I was worried an i7 was going to be a necessity to crank everything up. I don’t have anything like a GTX970, but I do have a i5-3570K. I’m going to get a GTX970 some time soon though.

      • Auldman says:

        Well, again, I did not check with fraps to see what I was getting frame rate-wise but it was looking smooth and fluid to me. I think an I5 is totally fine and the one we share is a pretty decent one. I think with a 970 you should be fine and I might even fine tune the settings as I get into the game but you should be able with that processor and the 970 to hit ultra on quite a few settings. Hairworks might be entirely optional and is thankfully.

        • moexius says:

          I also own a i5 3570k together with a EVGA GTX980 FTW and the games does indeed runs perfectly smooth. However I noticed a deep to 20fps in the section were CIRI is going after the helmet she knocked off. Even the sound stopped worked there for a sec or two. All that with the new Nvidia drivers and windows 8.1. Running MSI Afterburner and RivaTuner for on-game stats.

          Also nice, at least for GTX970 owners, the game, with everything in ULTRA and hair option on, does not utilize more than 2800mb of VRAM.

    • Llewyn says:

      The horse is rendered in that much detail, eh?

  11. SMGreer says:

    It really is amazing so far and everything I’d hoped it would be, truly staggering in both quality and ambition yet it has the restraint to never veer off into cheap spectacle or bombastic set pieces. There’s an almost gentle pace so far to the proceedings and it’s really let me enjoy soaking up the gorgeous scenery and views.

    I think for both newcomers and series fans alike, this could be one of the best RPGs in years.

    • aircool says:

      Nah, it’s fun, but not brilliant in the same way as ‘Divinity: Original Sin’ was.

  12. Zenicetus says:

    Starting to get a lot of game freezing here, mostly in Inventory and other menus. A quick scan of the forums shows many others having the problem, so I guess I’ll wait for the first patch or two now.

  13. shrieki says:

    i´m re-installing witcher2 because my pc cant run wild hunt. i´m pretty grouchy about that … but well i heard many good things about witcher2 so i will try it again. gave up the first time – not sure why….
    lol i´m kindof sure i will continue to be grouchy that i cannot play wild hunt and i end up never playing assasins of kings… :P
    i will try nonetheless- maybe after that i´m worthy of a pc upgrade for wildhunt…
    * grumbles in his beard*

    • moexius says:

      im pretty sure that if you can play Witcher 2, you should be able to play Witcher 3, even if in LOW settings. Or am I missing something?

    • Llewyn says:

      I never even got as far as Witcher 2, let alone this one. However I am having my bi-annual attempt to complete chapter 2 of the first game; at this rate I’ll be able to justify at least one graphics card upgrade before I ever have to worry about Wild Hunt performance…

      • Continuity says:

        It took me several years and about 4 attempts to complete the original, I got bogged down first about half way through then fairly near the end, if you’re struggling in chapter 2 then there not much hope for you I’m afraid.

        • ubik says:

          It took me a few years to and several attempts to get into the second game. Oddly enough, eventually I tried it with my 360 controller and that was the trick, the control scheme gelled with me and I was able to get into the game. M+KB just wasn’t doing it for me with all the dodging and stuff going on. Sounds like the third game will be similar.

          I never played the first game and I think it’s too late for that now. I didn’t seem to hurt much for in in the second game.

    • Danley says:

      As others have said, turn the graphics to low and work up from there, but also make sure to turn post processing settings to low as well and turn down your resolution.

      I’m running on a GTX 465 with 1600×900 resolution, full-screen, and post processing stuff turned off (except light rays). As for settings, texture quality can almost always be turned up to ultra with minimal impact, but I had to mix and match after that. The hair effects seem to be a huge hog on older cards, so that’s off, shadows are on low, foliage distance on medium, everything else on high except for grass density and detail, which is on ultra.

      Low resolution, post processing and graphics on low (except for Textures on Ultra) should be an ideal place to start.

  14. ibnarabi says:

    This is a fairly helpful guide to the graphics settings, useful for AMD folks as well;
    link to

    You’ll want to turn down foilage, and turn off hair, in a nutshell ;-)

  15. BurningPet says:

    Can you still get blocked by half a meter piggy fences, a control scheme that belongs to another platform which is an insult considering the game’s price, cheesy liners and a QTEs driven combat, or did they finally make a proper game this time?

    • Continuity says:

      the combat in the wither series has never been great but its functional, its everything else that make the games stand out as decent RPGs.

    • Edlennion says:

      Actually, one of the nice things they did in this was add a jump button, so no, you don’t get stopped by small fences!

      (I know you’re trolling, but thought it worth pointing out for someone else)

    • Zenicetus says:

      No QTE’s so far, but I haven’t done any boss-level fights yet, just Ghouls, Drowners, and human bandits. Check reviews from those who have gotten deeper into the game, but I’m hoping silliness like the Kayran QTE fight from Witcher 2 is gone. There is a new, more complicated (and possibly more strategic?) card game. No sign of arm wrestling or brawling that uses special controls (yet).

      The control scheme during combat using keyboard seems okay. Not exactly Arkham-level melee, but it works once you get used to it. Mouse control has some issues, and feels a bit too floaty and disconnected. But I just discovered there is a hardware mouse option buried at the bottom of the options/video/graphics menu. With that enabled, it feels better now. Not exactly “tight” like the Batman games, but probably good enough.

      Main issue for me right now is freezing in the Inventory and a few other menus. Oh, and a lack of FoV option, because the view angle seems too tight. I’m betting they’ll address that soon.

    • Philotic Symmetrist says:

      All your control schemes are belong to PC.

    • inf says:

      Yeah… the combat is still as bad as ever i’m afraid. It’s a spamfest of dodges and fast strikes, very light almost “on rails” combat, as it has always been. No endurance management to speak of, just hack and dodge away for days. Not a thinking man’s combat system at all, upping the difficulty just turns enemies into HP bloats and increases their damage output.

      How hard can it be to take some queues from other (A)RPG’s for combat? I really hope Cyberpunk’s 2077 combat system will have at least some depth to it.

      • Asurmen says:

        Because fighting a coloured bar of some kind which says whether I can do something or not (translation: running away until I can do stuff again) rather than just fighting the bad guys is always better.

        Why does every game have to use the same systems?

        • Cinek says:

          Because it’s what audience likes. That’s why.

          • Asurmen says:

            Alright, every FPS game on should be CoD, and there’s absolutely no variation at all. Wait, there is still variations? Well blow me down, it looks like games can still be different and appeal to different audiences after all!

            What another game does and what people buy that game for has no relevance to what another game does.

      • Jeeva says:

        Maybe you could try a primarily signs-based build, if you want to manage stamina and avoid light strikes?

      • jrodman says:

        Just a tip, a queue is a line or a holding bin. A cue is a push or a direction or to be prompted or ready to go.

    • aircool says:

      Combat, to be honest, absolutely blows compared to other games. It might be good for the console crowd, but when you’re used to PC 3rd person games, the combat just isn’t responsive enough. It can take up to a second for animations to finish before the game accepts input, and I’ve no idea if you can queue attacks and how many sit in the queue.

      Then there’s Geralt with a mind of his own, drawing his sword or putting it away when you really didn’t want to. I had one incident where he drew his sword in front of a bunch of soldiers because there was an aquaman around, but the soldiers got pissed off, and after a few seconds of comedy; repeatedly drawing and sheathing his sword, they all decided to give me a pasting whilst some poor soul got ravaged by wolves.

      I’ve been comparing it to combat in GW2 which is fast and fluid, even when it uses cooldowns on most skills.

      For a game about killing monsters, I’m really disappointed with the movement and combat.

  16. ShatteredAwe says:

    Hey, has anyone tried to play this game with a 770M? I have a MSI GT70 2OC, and I could play Witcher 2 comfortably at 1920×1080 with low-medium settings. Does anyone think I can run this game too?

    • aircool says:

      I’ve got GTX 680 which must be similar. I found that keeping the details levels high and just dropping the resolution down a peg (same aspect ratio) worked best; 45+ fps now with all the lovely detail and far away trees.

  17. Henas says:

    I agree with Richard about the ‘silky’ look of the Hairworks. The monsters look like they belong in a shampoo commercial.

    On performance, the Shadows setting is interesting. To me, it seems as though you either go Ultra for the more detailed shadows or go on Low for better performance. The difference between Low, Medium and High seems non existence. I’m sure someone can point out what I’m missing.

    Only bug I’ve experienced is odd artifacting on Geralt’s face in the inventory screen (big white pixels). Anyone experiencing that too?

    • Horg says:

      ”The monsters look like they belong in a shampoo commercial.”

      Maybe it’s spawned with it. Maybe its MonsterSheen™.

  18. freiform says:

    Hey, did you know that instead of playing this, you could be skinning your Steam client?

    Also, I’m playing this using a HD7870 with 2GB VRAM, and it runs quite well on medium settings (1080p/1200p). I’m very pleased with the performance of the minimal GPU recommended.. another 300 bucks to invest in my ongoing homebrewing endeavors and/or the pre-brewn stuff that inspired it in the first place.

    So far I had one crash, though, when trying to read a certain quest-related, well-dwelling-banshee-inspiring book.

    • freiform says:

      Oh, and also there is the map missing when a certain follow explains the current, err, lay of the land at the beginning of what in other games would be Act 1 or 2 (depending on how long the tutorial went). I only see the table’s supporting structure and pointing fingers, but no map.

    • jrodman says:

      Skinning? what?

  19. Horg says:

    I hit my first mildly humorous bug a few hours ago. Without spoiling anything important, there is a quest which culminates in a roadway chase on horse back, tasking you with knocking your opponent off his horse. First time that event started I wasn’t fast enough to get to Roach, so the guy escapes. No problem, I can load at the check point and be ready this time. So we go again but the guys horse has double spawned. He jumps on one copy and rides off leaving the other one standing in its place eating grass. I ride him down and hit him to trigger the cut scene, and the ending I pick caused him to spawn another horse and ride off. As soon as the dialogue ends, the 2nd horse, which is still hostile and present, kicks me clean off the road : |. I followed the path the guy took a bit later and found his 3rd horse standing by a wall, looking very much like his rider de-spawned and left him there. So there are now three copies of this horse in the world, one of which wants me dead.

    In unrelated news, I was locked inside a house by Roach a bit later on. For some reason, after being parked around the back, he decided to move around front and wall off the door with his body.

    • aircool says:

      I sort of got a bit stuck behind a wooden pole whilst clearing away wooden planks with my sword. The pole rattled around a lot and then had a bit of a Soldner moment with the planks.

  20. fish99 says:

    Seems like my PC resetting issue with W3 is probably my PSU. Thought a Seasonic 550W would handle a GTX 970 / I5-3570K just fine since my PC only uses 260W max. Guess not :(

    If I lock the game to 30 fps, which drops the power consumption by 40W, all is stable.

    • Horg says:

      It’s usually the 12v rail amperage which causes problems with PSUs and GPUs, not the wattage. 550W is generally loads more than enough to power a single monitor, single GPU set up, even with high end GPUs. Amperage isn’t something that’s advertised as prominently on GPU requirements or PSU specs, but is just as important. TomsHardware says the 970 needs 28 amps, so check the sticker on the side of your PSU and look for the 12v rail value. You will probably need to replace that PSU anyway, but now you know what to look for.

      • fish99 says:

        That’s what confusing, the PSU (Seasonic G Series 550W) supposed has 45A on the +12V rail and yet it seems to be switching off when the system hits around 250-260W range. Plus it’s only 2 years old.

        • fish99 says:

          Actually I don’t think it is the PSU anymore. I just had Prime95 and Furmark running simultaneously and that pushed power consumption to 272W with no signs of instability, but Witcher 3 reset my PC when it was using under 250W earlier (these numbers are measured at the socket).

          If it’s the game crashing, that shouldn’t make my PC just reset like it’s doing. At worst it should blue screen. On the other hand though it’s the only game I’m having any problems with. The game does seem stable if I lock it to 30 fps though.

          Hmmm…. this doesn’t make any sense.

          • poohbear says:

            then its either a badly overclocked GPU, faulty RAM, or a badly overclocked CPU. P95 pushes the cpu & RAM way more than TW3 ever will, so i’m leaning towards badly overclocked GPU?

          • inf says:

            Actually the game has been causing instability for a lot of people, including freezes, BSODs and resets (just check the subreddit). I myself am experiencing freezes, on a top-end system that has been stable for half a year for everything else, including heavy professional workloads (i7 5960X at 4.4Ghz, Quadro K5200, and 2 Titan X in SLI slighty overclocked).

          • Horg says:

            Another possibility is graphics driver crash. I’ve seen quite a few reports of the new Nvidia drivers being unstable, but nothing from AMD users. I’m using a 270X with the 14.12 release and haven’t had a single crash in 8 hours. If you got the new Nvidia drivers you might want to roll back a version and see if that helps.

          • kael13 says:

            I would try a driver downgrade to the previous version. I’ve heard the latest has a whole wealth of issues.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            With the new drivers i had a graphics driver refresh just by using YouTube, mind.

            The CPU should be fine, on most cases overclock instability translates directly into a BSOD, and if you’re not getting that i would rule that out. Off course you can never really rule anything out, but i’d absolutely check other stuff first.

            Another thing this drivers are doing if you google a bit is that the OC limit of many GPUs is a little lowered, as if the drivers themselves are slightly unstable, and that apparently happened even to those that simply had a factory OC model, with no other manual OC on top.

            I know you’re running furmark, but be warned that it’s not really a good software to test stability, it mostly stresses a lot of certain portion on the chip and a it eats the VRMs too. It’s mostly supposed to draw a lot of current and heat to check your cooling in the absolute worst case scenario, even though no game will ever get that close.

            Thing is, since it doesn’t really put an even load on everything it’s mostly useless if you want to know if you’re stable or not. Unigine Heaven does a better job at that, but there probably is even better stuff out now that i don’t know about.

          • fish99 says:

            Thanks guys, I’ll try Unigine Heaven and rolling back to a previous nvidia driver.

            The 970 is an EVGA SC version (i.e. factory overclocked) , so I could try stock clocks on it. CPU isn’t overclocked and the ram has passed memtest about a month ago.

            Funny thing is I tried playing on last night, rather than hanging around that first room/balcony waiting for it to reset (every time it’s reset it’s been out on that balcony), and it seemed stable, so it might be just that first area that either has a bug, or pushes some component very hard.

          • fish99 says:

            Someone on the GOG forums has the same issue with the exact same video card as me :s I think he’s the only guy I’ve heard say the game resets his PC rather than just crashing. I do know EVGA issued a V2 of this card so there must have been something up with the first version I have.

            I’ll have a dig around on the EVGA forums…

          • Scelous says:

            Fish, I had the same problem and have the same GPU. In fact, I also had the exact same problem when I played Dragon Age Inquisition. DA:I and Witcher 3 are the only ones that cause problems.

            I figured out it’s the card overheating, since it was poorly designed, I guess. I downloaded a program that increased the card’s fan speed, since it usually runs at a max of 35%. The EVGA 970 SC fan sounds like an airplane when running at higher speeds, so I use headsets, but it solved the resetting problem both for DA:I and Witcher 3. In the more graphically intense parts, I can hear the fan ramp up like crazy.

            I’m at work right now so I can’t remember the exact program I have installed. Actually, I believe it’s “Afterburner MSI,” and it’s free. I bet you it would fix your problem.

          • fish99 says:

            Thanks dude, will give it a try.

          • fish99 says:

            Yup that fixed it. And holy cow the card is noisy now :p (but it’s running at 62 degrees now rather than 75)

            Thanks for the help, much appreciated, but obviously it’s only half a solution and I’m a little disappointed with the card now, £260 is a lot to spend on a card that overheats. I might see if speeding my case fans up will let me run the 970 fan a bit slower while keeping the PC quiet.

            Thanks again :)

          • Scelous says:

            No problem, brother. And yeah, I’m really disappointed with the card after I spent so much money on it as well. I guess I should be happy that it’s only Witcher 3 and DA:I that I’ve encountered this problem with.

          • fish99 says:

            Yeah I agree. Btw I did find on the EVGA forums another way to fix the issue. You can use EVGA Precision X (and probably Afterburner can do this too) to underclock the GPU and memory on the card by 100MHz to take it back to stock values, and then it’s stable. The performance drop this way is small, not really noticeable, but it does avoid having the fan make all that noise.

            Basically it looks like the factory OC isn’t quite stable on the card under extreme loads. By dropping the speeds like this I had the card stable at 74 degrees, whereas by just turning the fan up modestly, I still had the reset problem at 69 degrees (and fan speed 40%). I could get it stable with just the fan, but it needed to be turned up a lot (to 60%), to the point where it was keeping the card to 62 degrees.

          • Scelous says:

            Fish, that’s really, really helpful. Thank you.

            Could I ask for the link to the EVGA forums where this is being discussed? I’d like to know more about the issue as well.

  21. racccoon says:

    Love the game! I haven’t stopped playing/
    I have covered most of the first area by foot and the beauty of diving into caves and discovery, I’ve killed every living thing they will allow too, everything in my path except I’m not powerful enough to kill the guards but that will come in due course I hope. I’ve died once!
    I must say the “ORIGIN” Launcher is brilliant and Updates are Faultless.
    Its a fantastic made game and very enjoyable. so far spent 12hrs roaming..
    My only the game needed more stealth and thievery, lol but apart from that I still manage to get everything & anything I can :)
    Witcher 3 is a Top Game.

  22. vahnn says:

    RICHARD COBETT!? Why helloooooooo!

    Hope you’ll be doing the follow-up articles as well!

  23. Be_reasonable says:

    Hey Richard Cobbett, you are doing a PC review using your Xbox controller. For everyone at home that would love to get a review of how the game works using a computer (presumably, they are not coming to this article for an Xbox review), here’s the deal:
    * You can’t customize some of the keyboard controls because they are locked in. There are reports you can edit configuration files, but I have no idea because I couldn’t get decent performance.
    * This game is a resource pig.
    * The controls all but depend on an analog stick because you are constantly fighting with the camera. It’s an over the shoulder third person game, but the controls regularly point the main character in all kinds of directions with only manual movements for the camera. This is tedious. There needs to be some camera options or a button to refocus the camera.

    Better off buying this on console.

    • Zenicetus says:

      First off, for a “PC focused” web site, I agree that more should be more information here about the way the game controls differently on mouse & keyboard vs. gamepad. It’s not enough to have one dismissive statement that it doesn’t play well on M&K and then go straight to a gamepad review.

      And I don’t want to hear that “It’s 20015 and you should be using a gamepad.” For those of us who want to use mouse & keyboard, it’s important for a site like RPS to point out what is, and isn’t working well. If M&K works well for other AAA games like the recent Wolfenstein, there is no excuse for it not working well here.

      That said, I found an option at the bottom of the options/video/graphics screen for “hardware” mouse control that improves the feel of mouse control. With that and VSync off, It’s not perfect, but it’s better.

      I don’t agree with “resource pig” because I’m “seeing the money on the screen”… to use an old movie term… with a system that can handle the game requirements.

      I do think the game badly needs a FoV control because in many situations it’s just too tight. Obviously that’s related to getting fast enough frame rates. Butt for those with fast enough hardware, there is no excuse not to allow loosening up the FoV a bit. It’s just another indication that this is a “console first, PC port later” game.

    • Unclepauly says:

      why play on console when you can get the better performing better looking version and still use a controller on pc?

      • UncleLou says:

        Exactly. Game works perfectly fine with my PS4 pad. Why ignore one of PCs greatest strengths? Just use the right tool for the job. Joysticks, wheels, gamepads have been at home on PCs since the beginning and are just als much “PC Gaming” as mice.

        • GAmbrose says:

          Unfortunately there are always some “Controller LOLZ! PC Master race use keyboard and mouse” zealots around who can’t accept that most third person games are better with a control pad.

          • Rumpelstilskin says:

            If you are using a controller, you are no longer playing it on PC. I would never violate my USB ports by sticking one of those filthy abominations in them.

          • Philotic Symmetrist says:

            The true power of the PC as a platform lies in options. If there aren’t sufficient options in a game for customising the controls then that is a problem but there’s no need to insist that the default input device is the only ‘acceptable’ one; that is a limitation of consoles, not PCs.

        • UncleLou says:

          I am actually wondering where that m/kb dogma comes from. Most certainly not rom the “old-timers”, people who started gaming on PCs in the early 90s, who usually came from home computers to PCs. Noone would have even questioned it if a game needed a joystick at that time, and even Micrsoft was big in the gaminghardware/peripheral business, etc. I remember I never regarded a joystick or pad as something “consoley”; it was just something you had.

          I guess there was a time – maybe in the early 2000s – where games that relied heavily on m/kb were so prevalent in PC gaming that a generation of PC gamers who started gaming then took it as the absolute norm?

          I am not trying to sound condescending here, I am just genuinely curious when the m/kb thing started,

          • Rumpelstilskin says:

            My guess would be from online MP FPS’s. The 2 genres where m+k is most obviously superior are FPSs and RTSs/MOBAs, but the latter are downright unplayable with a controller, so no one’s even trying that. And as FPS is also the most popular genre, it’s likely to be it.

            Conceptually, mouse is superior to a thumbstick since it has higher dimensionality (2d vs 1d). I suppose 2 sticks can technically emulate a 2d input, but with less precision, and in a much less intuitive way. Of course, in cases where you actually need two 1d inputs that can be an advantage. In fact, even one stick can produce a 2d input if you combine direction with time – such as when moving a cursor – but that’s probably the case where the dimensional advantage of the most obvious.

          • Zenicetus says:

            Agreeing with the post above, I think a big part of it is the dominance of the FPS genre in recent years, where a mouse just works better for snap shooting. And a little bit of the RTS genre I guess, but it’s mostly the FPS crowd.

            With regard to the oldtimers who grew up with joysticks as essential PC hardware (like me), remember that some of us never left them. There was a slow period for combat flight sim and space sims for years, but civilian flight sims never went away, and the cockpit-level space games with full HOTAS support are coming back.

            That’s the main reason why I don’t use a gamepad. My USB inputs are already crammed with joystick, throttle quadrant, rudder pedals, and TrackIR. I don’t want to have to manage another input device. As it is, I sometimes get conflicts with games that don’t expect that many control inputs.

          • Be_reasonable says:

            It comes from customizability and being able to make things more comfortable than what I consider awkward controllers. For example, most controllers have two control sticks and a directional pad. Is it possible that someone can operate all three? I haven’t liked controllers since the N64.

          • Asurmen says:

            There isn’t because you can’t, just like you can’t use one of the sticks and the a/b/c/dor shape buttons.

          • Philotic Symmetrist says:

            I definitely agree that the dominance of the FPS, on both PC and consoles seems like the best explanation for the PC=m/kb dogma.

            Customisability isn’t the issue; most games do (and all games should) let you remap keys whether it’s on a gamepad or keyboard; Super Metroid on the SNES let you do a fair amount of remapping (not with complete freedom but mostly) and from what I read at the time The Conduit on Wii had control options that put most PC games to shame.

            As far as using 2 control sticks and a d-pad goes, if you’re using a control stick for movement then the d-pad is basically four individual buttons, in which case it’d probably be assigned to commands that you would use occasionally (changing weapons, items, visors) in which case yes you can operate all of them in a comfortable and effective manner. You can’t really use all of them simultaneously (the employment of ‘the claw’ while playing older Monster Hunter games being an unfortunate exception) but the same goes for a keyboard; if I have four keys and three fingers dedicated to movement, there are a lot of keys that I can’t use if I’m needing to be actively moving at the same time.

          • Philotic Symmetrist says:

            Oh, and @Rumpelstilskin, a thumbstick is still 2-dimensional, but it’s dimensions are direction and speed rather than position.

  24. Monggerel says:

    This looks saturated as hell.
    Thank you.

  25. Zenicetus says:

    BTW, I’ve been ragging on the game for some technical flaws, but the design concept is really outstanding.

    Alchemy is important — at least at the higher difficulty levels — and they’ve made it super quick to collect herbs.

    The “Witcher vision” (right mouse button) works great for highlighting important objects without forcing a glow in the standard viewpoint, like so many games do. Moving from the outside world into a peasant building after opening a door without a black screen is fantastic.

    The Witcher vision thing is also much smoother here for tracking footprints and other signs than it was in W2, which felt like a clumsy side project. Here, it works well. If you ever wanted the Batman/Arkham games to focus more on clue collection, this is the game for it. At least from what I’ve seen so far (and disclaimer, I’m very early in the game).

    You can actually toggle a friggin’ walk mode, which is something that I never understood about Dragon Age Inquisition. The horse travel is well integrated, and feels less clumsy than either Skyrim or DA:I.

    There is so much to like about this game. I have some gripes here and there, but it’s fantastic… so far. This opinion might change if I run up against a QTE or severe difficulty spike like W2 (I’m playing on the “Blood and Bones” level). So far, even with glitches and the occasional freeze, it’s been well worth the money.

  26. Zenicetus says:

    One more thing — it looks like people are figuring out how to hack the FoV so it’s wider than default on the PC. I won’t link to it, because I haven’t tried it, and I’m waiting for the base game to support it. But it’s out there if you look for it.

    This is something I’d expect to see in an RPS review. If people are trying to hack the FoV on the PC version, that’s worth mentioning.

  27. LittleJP says:

    Hmmm, this looks interesting. However, I still have an unplayed Witcher 1 and 2, should I look at playing through those first? I keep bouncing of the first Witcher, plus 120 hours is a lot of time, especially since this open world, more of a monster hunter kind of feel appeals to me far more than the rather more linear bits of the old games.

    Oh, and the combat in the first game was a chore.

    • Orionmeister says:

      I recently played both the Witcher 1 and Witcher 2 coming up to this game. The short answer is no, you really don’t need to play them before playing Wild Hunt. If either of them would be more important than it would be the Witcher 2, since the plot of Witcher 1 was pretty self contained and the only real overlap are some of the main characters. The Witcher 2 ties a *little* but more into Wild hunt, but only in the larger backstory of the fighting that’s going on. I think you would probably do well to read up a little on the Northern Kingdoms and look at a map, but that would probably bring you up to speed enough. The beginning of the game actually does a pretty serious job of brining you up to speed with the main characters and backstory.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Seconding the above comment — there is no reason to play the first two, if you want to enjoy this game,

      I played the first two and finished them both. For me, this 3rd version fits better (so far) with the idea of an itinerant monster hunter with some backstory than Witcher 2 did, and the game mechanics are more enjoyable than either of the first two.

      Standard disclaimer — I don’t know if this idea of “mostly a monster hunter with some background issues leading to a larger plot” holds up later on. I’m just barely into the game.

  28. poohbear says:

    Thank you RPS for addressing the graphical downgrade! i noticed it too and was like wth this isn’t like the trailers and screenshots?!? I have GTX 970 SLI so i was one of those that could definitely handle it and would atleast like the OPTION to run it, why remove that option entirely? Hopefully they’re release an enhanced edition with an extreme setting that brings all that back.

    • Unclepauly says:

      It’s a bit silly though that Witcher 2 looks even better than this in some parts. They really went overboard on paring back the graphics. Hopefully you are right and we get an upgrade back to what was shown in 2013 or at least something close to that.

      • kael13 says:

        It’s because they changed to a physically based rendering system and removed a sharpening filter. Howwwever, I do think they also removed some of the higher detail and clutter from the environments, and the foliage straight up looks blurry sometimes (maybe for a painterly look, not sure).

        I actually prefer this version of the lighting engine, however.

        • pendergraft says:

          If you look at some of the older promotional images for Mad Max Fury Road, you’ll notice the color is really desaturated, giving the film an ugly, gritty Book of Eli look that is totally not in keeping with the madcap spirit/tone of the movie. I feel the same way about The Witcher 3’s old screenshots. A colorful world better evokes that creepy fairy tale danger the game seems to be going for.

  29. TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

    Well, AMD users can rejoice, maybe Nvidia’s launch driver is not perfect ( or just tailored to Maxwell ), maybe they need a new patch or a combination of both things, but running hairworks is a pain and it’s best left off with nothing short of a Titan X.

    I say this with a 780ti as my main card and a 670 dedicated to Physx only, on 1440p. I can get very solid performance with most stuff ultra-ed and others on high, but for now hairworks totally has to go.

  30. Czrly says:

    Against my better judgement against playing stuff on day 1, I downloaded it and gave it a whirl and I am actually rather happy with it. It is a lot more stable than I expected!

    GoG Galaxy is brilliant! I love the fact that you can use it to download the game and then close it and leave it closed until you need it again. The games are still DRM free and run without Galaxy!

    The game runs alright on fairly high settings on my old GTX 780M… and that’s probably because it comes in borderless-window flavour which is something that every game should support. (That means you can disable v-sync and leave the Windows 8 compositing engine to guard against tearing – something it does with a much lower cost than the dated vsync abomination.)

    I agree that the saturation is rather over the top. The lighting also seems very harsh and downright ugly a lot of the time. Foliage is also a bit scrappy for a game that looks so good, as are the Horse textures! (New killer phrase: Horse Textures!) While shadows are great mostly, they do not appear to apply to character models – the lighting on them is often flat and boring. HairWorks is unusable because of performance.

    The menus and U.I. need a HUGE amount of work. If you open up inventory or something, you have to mash escape a million times to get back to the game and that’s just pathetic.

    The combat controls are decent – even with a mouse and keyboard. Some of the choices are a bit odd and I would love a few more options to customise them. (I’d love if it remembered my run/walk toggle setting and didn’t always start me off running.)

    The inclusion of yet-another-meaningless-in-game-card-game is questionable. I don’t much mind it – it is quite a bit of fund, I suppose – but I’ll be interested to see how long the game is if you don’t spend hours and hours playing the meaningless card game. It smacks of padding.

    Overall, I am happy. Would recommend to Witcher fans.

    • Bernardo says:

      Thanks for the tip on running in borderless mode with VSync off on Win8. Will try that. I’m generally pleased that I can run the game on nearly all Ultra without problems, but I don’t know if that holds up once I enter a big city.

      More generally, I’m so used to games not looking like the promo that I’m really not that disappointed. It’s kind of frustrating, the expectation of W3 and No Man’s Sky pushed me over the edge in deciding for a new desktop, but I’m still enjoying the game. I also don’t think the colours are oversaturated. It’s not perfect, but for me, it sits in a comfortable middle between bland Skyrim and 80s neon Witcher 2. I generally like the whole design, the Eastern European look of the landscape and architecture. I’ve been to Eastern and Southern Poland and it looks very much like one of the open-air museums there.

      I also like the combat. Especially on the two higher settings, you need to prepare, you need to make use of potions, and I felt the griffin has decent behaviour, so that I had to develop a tactic (stay close to the monster, look for signs of it charging and so on). Nothing super original, but decent enough. I also like the reintroduction of “strong”/”fast” styles and their different effectiveness on monsters.
      However, even the gamepad feels unresponsive. I haven’t yet found out why I couldn’t use the crossbow in the Griffin combat, and Geralt doesn’t always react to roll commands – which can get frustrating.

      Also, judging from the first chapter, the story feels more dense to me, and the consequences of my decisions play out logically (not like the randomness in the first Witcher e.g.) and put me in positions I didn’t want to be put in, but I see how it happened – I wanted to do good, and it ended up a slaughterfest.

    • Cinek says:

      I love the fact that you can use it to download the game and then close it and leave it closed until you need it again.” – and what, you couldn’t do that without GOG Galaxy? You’re new to Windows?

      HairWorks is unusable because of performance.” – HairWorks is perfectly usable, you just need some decent GPU, not the M-family. It also comes with 3 settings – off, Geralt-only, all – so you can customize it to a degree (that said though I would love another setting: main characters-only).

      The menus and U.I. need a HUGE amount of work” – I disagree. It’s OKish. Certainly way above Skyrim level. The thing with escapes is bad, but that’s pretty much the biggest problem I have with it, which is really a good thing.

      I would love a few more options to customise them (combat controls)” – oh yes, yes, please!

      The inclusion of yet-another-meaningless-in-game-card-game is questionable” – it’s not at all. It’s a fun and interesting addition to the game that survived as a tradition going through the entire series. Don’t like it – don’t play it. Noone is ever forcing you to do anything with these cards, even if you play in a tutorial mode.

      Would recommend to Witcher fans.” – wow, now that’s a very harsh statement. I would easily recommend it to all of the open-world RPG fans, from Skyrim to DA:I.

      • Asurmen says:

        The GoG point was that with Steam it’s variable whether it needs to be running to play and Origin you don’t get the option as it has to be running for every game iirc, making GoG a bit of a nice change to them.

        • shaydeeadi says:

          Origin is not required to be running for every game on there, just most of them. It’s probably at the clients discretion.

    • paddymaxson says:

      The game runs like cack in border less windowed mode for me on win 8.1. Luckily I have a gsync monitor so I just full screen with vsync off

  31. MrNash says:

    Probably going to get this around Christmas. Still want to play through the first two games beforehand. I know. It’s not necessary to do so, but I’m stubborn like that.

    • paddymaxson says:

      Its not necessary to do them to comprehend the story, but if you can persevere through the first game’s act 1 then you’ll be glad you did. As is always the case with these things there’s little references to characters thstll make you smile and also the first game is a wonderful experience storywise

  32. fredc says:

    I read briefly about this hair tech thing. Do you have to toggle it on, because it doesn’t really look like real hair. It’s more like real hair with extra hairspray, but also slowed down to like 15% of normal hair movement rates.

    Hopefully it’s auto on, so I can turn it off when I get home and get those extra 10fps.

    • Wowbagger says:

      It’s auto on for ultra settings and can be unticked like pretty much everything else in the graphics settings.

  33. Noodle says:

    Why don’t they call them Crepuscular Rays, to use the correct (and awesome) term?

  34. skyturnedred says:

    “Speaking of which, when evening rolls round, the blood-red skies are amazing.”

    I love it when the skies turn red.

    • bill says:

      The sky’s beginning to bruise, night must fall and we shall be forced to camp.

  35. paddymaxson says:

    Dunno about anyone else but I really enjoy playing games in borderless window, while the game natively supports this it’s a huge frame rate hit for me (everything maxed on dual 980s)

  36. macallen says:

    My review is upside/downside.

    Never played the Witcher series, but was very excited about this one because of all of the comparisons to Skyrim, which I have over 1000 hours logged in (according to Steam). On the plus side, the game is gorgeous, I’ve not run into a single bug, and gameplay is smooth. Overall, it’s a great game. I run at 60fps, 1080, everything on Ultra, hair, etc. The game is just stunning and I’m regularly awestruck with the beauty of the game.

    However, it is not “open world”, at all, nor is it “bigger than Skyrim”, both of which were touted by the media all over the place. I’m regularly running into invisible walls I can’t cross or monsters 3x or higher my level, telling me “you can’t go here yet”. It would be better if it were actually on rails vs “it’s not on rails but you’re instakilled if you step off of the ‘rails'”. Level-based games are, by definition, on rails, because you can only go where you can survive. In actual open-world games like Skyrim, you can go anywhere and the monsters scale to your current ability. Encounters can be ridiculously challenging and “encourage” you to go get more skills, or gear, but nothing is flat out impossible.

    I know it’s not Skyrim, it’s Witcher, and it’s Code Red. And I’m enjoying the game, but the longer I play, the more my frustration outweighs my enjoyment. I want to go where I want to go. There’s a ? on my map, in my path, I want to go clear it, but the mobs are lvl ??, which is Witcher’s way of saying “you shouldn’t go this way yet”. If I wanted the game to tell me where to go, I’d go play Tomb Raider :( And having a lvl 22 encounter right next to a lvl 3 one is just ridiculous. I mean this literally, I was fighting a lvl 3 encounter when the adjacent lvl 22 encounter agroed, waded in and killed me AND the lvl 3 encounter.

    Sorry for the kinda negative review, just my honest opinion.

    • jrodman says:

      I don’t agree with you at all that level mechanics are the sames as rails.

      Level mechanics, depending how they are implemented, can give various experiences. You can have the surprise of getting stomped, to vow to return later the victor. You can choose to take on things that are “above your ability” and find some way to make it work by hook or crook. You can have areas where the opponents are of mixed level, where possibly some targets are of juicy value to the player, but some opponents must be avoided.

      None of these things are possible with a game on rails.

      Of course, if level mechanics are implemented very awkwardly, they can reduce the possibility of this kind of fun. But there’s always the option to “play it wrong” and find your own fun. I know I have had great adventures wandering into level 55 zones as a level 7 character in WoW, and in certain ancient CRPGs, I would stealthily sneak into high level areas searching for one or two items to boost my power before getting the hell out of there.

      In *this* game, of course, I have no idea, because I haven’t played it.

  37. jrodman says:

    WHAT is going on with the bathwater? Did he take a poo in there?

  38. Tesvixen says:

    Have had 0 crashes running the game on Ultra settings (minus shadows, which are on high, and AA which I leave off because ‘jaggies’ don’t bother me with the res I play at).

    Loving it so far. It really goes into some morally bleak territory, and its a better effort all around than either of the 2 games. The gameworld is ridiculously huge, too!

    Oh and the ‘downgraded’ graphics still look effing gorgeous is you ask me.