Still No Fancy Hair Funtimes After New Witcher Patch

you're a big old hairy bear, yes you are

Why in the name of all that’s good and hairy do I care so much about having the Fancy Hair setting turned on in The Witcher 3? I can pretty much max out everything except that and shadow quality and be running it not too far shy of the hallowed 60 FPS, and frankly it looks extremely pretty, but I nonetheless struggle to accept that I’m missing out on a wavy ponytail or wind-ruffled bears. After so many years of flat, plasticky hair, don’t I deserve some fluttering?

A new patch for CDP’s RPG professes to further improve the performance of the GPU-slaying HairFX setting, as well as up texture quality and improve stability. Let’s see if Meer’s Fancy Hair Dream can come true.

Nope! Even after last night’s patch 1.04 HairFX immediately has old Geralt running around at 20 frames per second fewer than with it turned off. That’s on a GTX 970, if you’re keeping meticulous notes about that sort of thing. I can’t pretend that I noticed any difference in textures, but that’s probably because I’m getting on with playing the thing rather than worrying that President Assad paid the developers $30 billion to deliberately hobble the PC version or whatever.

Also in the patch are new Gwent cards in the starting area, which kinda complicates matters for anyone doing the Gotta Catch Em All quest, plus some alt-tabbing fixes, which is what I’m most personally grateful for – the game’s had quite a few hissy fits about that on my PC.

Here’s the full list of changes. The Witcher 3 should auto-update to v1.04 via your digital downloady thinger of choice.

  • Rebinding of all keys is now available after switching on the ‘Unlock Bindings’ option in the Options\Key Bindings submenu
  • Corrects an issue in the dialogue system that might have caused dialogue looping in certain scenes
  • Fixes an issue with incorrect behaviour of Wild Hunt warriors after they were affected by the Axii Sign
  • Corrects a bug that caused spontaneous combustion of gas clouds
  • 1280 x 720 resolution is now properly displayed as a valid resolution option
  • Fixes boat stuttering in cutscenes
  • Texture rendering quality for the high and ultra presets has been improved
  • Further improvements made in NVIDIA Hairworks performance
  • A few additional gwent cards are now available in the Prologue area
  • Fixes an issue where users with usernames incorporating non-Latin characters were unable to import saves from The Witcher 2
  • Includes a series of overall stability and performance improvements
  • Fixes issues related to alt + tabbing and minimizing the game window
  • Updates the game icon
  • Enlarges the loot pop-up window in the UI
  • Fixes an issue where, in certain circumstances, the comparison window could extend beyond the game borders in the UI
  • Upgrading items included in gear sets no longer destroys rune sockets on said items
  • Introduces small tweaks in the UI for gwent
  • Corrects some missing translations in localized versions


Any of that affecting you? Or are you running it on lowest settings at 640×480 to prove you don’t care about superficial things, so it’s all irrelevant?


  1. Eight Rooks says:

    Turning on Hairworks after two patches – on an AMD card – still sees a decline in performance but it’s nothing like it was before. The framerate was way down the first time – it was still playable by my standards, even on Ultra, but it was like trying to run The Witcher 2 (almost) maxed out on my old 4870. I don’t know how many frames it’s dropping now, but it’s hugely improved – I’ve been running it with everything on at 1080 for a while to see how I got on and while the framerate is plainly far from 60FPS the worst I really notice is inputs seem to lag heavily at times. Not so it’s got me killed, though. I might turn it back off – there’s not much effect if you’re not looking at a big monster, as far as I can see, and I quite like the regular hair animations (they’re obviously not as detailed, but they’re still good IMO).

    I’m sure some people would call my experience unplayable or something, but eh, I’m having fun. That’s an FX8350 at stock 4Ghz, 4GB R9 290, 8GB of DDR2.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      You might also want to try RTSS, and use it to cap the framerate at something you’re comfortable with. There are many ways to limit framerate but this one is by the smoother, with a stable frame time and not all over the place.

      For example i’m at 45fps with a 780ti @1440p, framerate always stays there and there’s is no hitching whatsoever, once your eyes are adjusted it’s quite nice, or at least absolutely better than getting costant fluctuations.

    • Solidstate89 says:

      DDR2? AMD’s FX series of processors even support DDR2?

    • LazyAssMF says:

      Dude, try the AMD approved “fix” till they release new drivers (which should be soon). Set manual tesselation in CCC for Witcher 3 to 8x or 16x and it looks same with a big performance boost. At least for me. 8x is really fast while 16x looks a tad better if you really look at it from 1 cm. :)

    • Eight Rooks says:

      I may not be making this clear – it’s always been smooth and very playable on Ultra without Hairworks on. I stuck everything up to full first thing, thought “Oh, God, I can’t run it properly after all”, then someone on the forums said the hair was even causing their SLI’d Nvidia setup to crash repeatedly and turning it off gave a big performance boost. Thought “Oh, well, I’ll give it a try”, turned it off, left everything else on full and bam, absolutely beautiful. It’s probably not 60FPS – I don’t know if there’s any way for me to calculate it and I don’t really care. I played through the entirety of The Witcher 2 nearly maxed out at a framerate that would probably give a lot of people here heart attacks (had to turn it down for the dragon, as that really was unplayable, but other than that).

      But since the patch, I can turn Hairworks on – no tweaks, just turning it on in-game – and it’s still playable. It’s clearly not running as well as with it off but it’s well enough I don’t really mind. It still feels “smooth” to me – not the full 60, but enough that as long as the delays don’t get me killed I’m really not bothered. I may turn it off, I may not, but unless there’s some huge, immediately quantifiable benefit I’m not going to mess around with .ini files just yet. I’m more interested in that for detail into the distance anyway, not hair, and IIRC that still takes a big hit on even top-end Nvidia systems.

      • dahools says:

        I think LazyassMF is just saying perhaps you can have your cake and eat it.

        There is no messing with .ini files or anything like that hairworks seems to you ridiculously high levels of tessellation you just turn them down in your AMD catalyst control center.

        link to there is a link as to how to do it. It takes seconds give it a go and see if it improves your hairworks performance.

        Let me know how you get on as i have the same card as you but am waiting for most the bugs to be ironed out before i purchase Witcher III.

  2. TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

    Can’t find a link anymore, but someone who found a “fix” for AMD cards managed to lower the tesselation count on the hair, which according to him is an atrociously high settings that would only make sense in a synthetic benchmark, not a game.

    The fix had something to do with the Catalyst software, and i don’t think there’s anything in Nvidia Inspector to do a similar thing, but i’m kind of hopeful CDPR will finally scale the thing down into something sensible.

    • Sakkura says:

      Yeah you can set a maximum tessellation factor in the catalyst control panel (under “games”), which reduces the crazy performance impact without hurting the visual quality much.

      Nvidia sure loves that tessellation. Like Crysis 2, with a hidden tessellated ocean under everything, and concrete blocks tessellated to heck for no apparent reason. Well, AFAIK it was never confirmed that Nvidia had anything to do with that. It just happened to hurt AMD performance more than Nvidia performance in an Nvidia-sponsored game.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Nvidia since Fermi is a little stronger in tesselation and Maxwell even improved it a lot, but some more options indeed wouldn’t hurt as going over board is something that neither brand can handle properly, yet.

    • PoulWrist says:

      Here’s a link about it link to

  3. Soulstrider says:

    Pity that 5-10 minutes in, this game starts stuttering like hell (both the frame rate and sound) and becomes nearly unplayable for me. I wish they would at least let us turn stuff like vegetation and shadows of for those who don’t really have good pcs and don’t really care about graphics.

    • aircool says:

      Yeah. i5-3570 and GTX680 and I have to play at 1600×900 to get a reasonable framerate. Being able to turn off shadows and most of the pointless vegetables would really help when the framrate nosedives.

      I found that the vegetable render range is the only thing (aside from hairworks of course) that makes any significant difference to my framerate at the lower resolution.

      I also gave myself a half hour on GW2 last night, just so I could remember how a 3rd person game should feel. I could live with the average framerate and the game is quite interesting and fun, but oh… the controls; 30+ hours of playing and I still can’t work out how to swim underwater properly.

      • Soulstrider says:

        Yeah, unfortunately I had to stop playing due to those reasons. Since I have no patience to play it in short bursts, I guess the only solution for me is to buy a new PC, something I can’t afford.

      • gunny1993 says:

        I have an i5 2500 and a GTX670 and get 60 fps at 1080 with everything on medium, unless you’re asking for 100+ fps there might be something else you’re doing wrong.

        • Soulstrider says:

          Oh, the thing I am doing wrong is having a bellow specs PC and loving the Witcher series to be dumb enough to still buy it. To my surprise the games runs completely fine in the first 5-10 minutes but then it starts stuttering as hell, frankly if they let us turn off of some of the stuff I referred before, I think it would be perfectly playable.

          • Horg says:

            You can change some config settings to get the game running below the in game ‘low’ settings. The user.settings file should be in the MyDocuments folder under Witcher 3, you can open it with notepad. Change the following lines to suit your needs:

            GrassDensity=xxx (1400 is low, lower values = less grass)

            FoliageDistanceScale=0.x (low is 0.8, lower values reduce draw distance, can cause pop in if set very low)
            FoliageShadowDistanceScale=x (low is 8, lower values remove tree shadows)

            MaxCascadeCount=x (low is 3, removes some shadows from the game)

          • Soulstrider says:

            Thank you so much, iso fart runs without barely an stutter at all (it still hits but a negligible amount as far as I tried), sure it looks worse than a PS2 game era game with no shadows and vegetation but you can’t have it all.

        • Geebs says:

          Is yours a 2gb or 4gb card? I have a 2gb gtx680 (and, admittedly, the ½ speed PCIe bug that card displays in windows on a Mac Pro), and everything seems kind of janky.

          • PoulWrist says:

            Witcher 2 never uses more than 2 gb VRAM, even at 4k link to

          • Geebs says:

            Interesting, although they didn’t actually say what texture setting they were using; the comparison they’re making is the total size of the framebuffers used in the render pathway, which is not the same thing as the game texture quality.

          • jacobvandy says:

            Geebs, the highest resolution textures in the Witcher 3 have been measured to use only 300MB more than the lowest quality. The High and Ultra settings are identical; the only thing enabling the latter does is slightly raise the memory budget to allow the game to keep more textures handy for streaming and help reduce pop-in.

          • jacobvandy says:

            Oh, and the guru3d article states “Evereything is set to Ultra, AA is enabled, Nvidia Harworks is disabled and we use SSAO.” Old-school benchmark articles like that have page before the graphs start flowing where they describe their test parameters and system specs, etc.

          • Geebs says:

            You’re right, I’ve found another article which demonstrated the 12 Gb Titan only using 2 Gb of memory, which is kind of interesting given the amount of texture streaming they must be having to do. I guess I’m being let down more by my dodgy PCI bandwidth than by my VRAM.

        • aircool says:

          Constant 60fps? I can get over 60fps in some areas, but it can drop down to the low 30’s in others (at 1080). I have to have the foliage draw distance at medium as a minimum, otherwise it just looks stupid with a patch of foliage 10 yards in radius about the character.

  4. Zaxwerks says:

    I’m at 1440p with a 780Ti and pretty much stay at 60fps maxed out as long as I turn off Hairworks and Ambient Occlusion (second biggest killer of fps after hair), and I also turn off blur ‘cos I can’t stand it.

    I actually caught myself seriously thinking about going SLI so I could turn on Hairworks as it does look mighty pretty, and then common sense kicked in and I decided that spending a few hundred pounds just for prettier hair might be a bit mental… still there is that nagging voice in the back of my head…

    It’s at times like this that I remember the oft reoccurring console vs PC discussion forum arguments where console owners constantly claim “the graphics don’t matter it’s all about the gameplay” where I wish they’d released The WItcher 3 for consoles with only 8-bit graphics and then I could point and laugh at them.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Don’t SLI that thing with 3GB, i almost thought about that aswell as i have the same card, but really, a couple weeks and the 980ti will be there.

      I have some stuff turned off ( hairworks too ) and i’m avoiding a lot of secondary quests for a proper revisit with a new GPU and more completion!

  5. GAmbrose says:

    I think patch 1.04 actually made the game perform worse than 1.03 for some reason.

    And I’m talking about with hairworks off both times.

    Seems to stutter more in cutscenes (and in general)

  6. Orija says:

    I have found the game to be well optimised right from vanilla. Runs like a charm, the game can be started within seconds of running the executable and can be instantly quit.

    • TheTingler says:

      I agree. Compared to something like Watch_Dogs or even Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (crucially, NOT The New Order for some reason) it’s a breath of fresh air. I can actually run it on High settings unlike those two games where I struggle even on Medium.

      • Frye2k11 says:

        Agreed. i noticed how smooth it felt while i was tinkering with the setting and had about 30 fps. Definitely better than the average 30 fps locked title.

        Because of this i gladly settled for 45 fps on my midrange videocard (HD 7870) which is the minimum recommended amd card and felt no need to turn off more stuff.

    • Bernardo says:

      Same here. I can run it on mostly Ultra without Hairworks on a GTX 750, although I have no idea at what fps, because I don’t care as long as it feels smooth and fast. It actually runs better than Witcher 2, for reasons I cannot fathom.

  7. Zaxwerks says:

    We need DirectX 12 performance boosts and the game recoded for it, or the next generation of graphic cards out by next week please… pretty please.

  8. Clavus says:

    It’s funny how they made rebinding the menu shortcut keys finally available, but those only work when going INTO the menu. In the menu itself, I still have to use the default binds to get OUT of the menu.

    • aircool says:

      Doesn’t seem to work properly either. Some keybinds work, others don’t. At one point, the re-bind I made for map was actually popping the meditate screen…

  9. orient says:

    Does anyone know why the game doesn’t stretch to fit when played at lower-than-native resolution? My machine can’t handle the game at 1080p so I want to drop it, but I can’t handle black borders. So weird.

    • GAmbrose says:

      That’s probably more to do with your Graphics cards scaling settings.

      Have a look at your GPU control panel.

      • orient says:

        Thanks for that. Turns out everything under 1080p looks super blurry. Cranking up the sharpening helps but then you get horrible inner shadowing on everything. Oh well, 30fps on medium settings it is. Not the end of the world I guess!

        • BlueTemplar says:

          You could try running it at 1920/2×1080/2=960×540 if it’s an option.
          Otherwise, any resolution that doesn’t “fit” the (sub)pixels of your screen will looks blurry if you stretch it – black borders are a better alternative IMHO.

  10. wu wei says:

    that’s probably because I’m getting on with playing the thing rather than worrying that President Assad paid the developers $30 billion to deliberately hobble the PC version or whatever

    Ahahaha yeah, stick it to those losers who get angry over deliberately manipulative marketing tactics. What idiots they are!

    • PoulWrist says:

      How is it deliberately manipulative when the marketing material changed throughout to reflect the graphical changes the game underwent?

      • Bull0 says:

        I mean, I don’t care, but they also said on a few occasions that the trailers weren’t using the ultra settings, that they were “keeping that back for the release”, etc, banned all those streamers, and one of the devs even answered point-blank that it would be possible to achieve the look of the original E3 trailers with the gold game on a forum post somewhere (can’t find it now for the life of me!), which, yeah, it isn’t. They waited until the game had been on sale for a while and *then* came clean about the graphics, with this story about how it’s just a misunderstanding, etc.

        I’m not bothered about it – game’s brilliant, I’m really enjoying it, looks perfectly pretty – but I’m not going to sit here and idly take the piss out of people with a legitimate grievance either

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          And yep, that’s the point.

          I think there are understanding people out there, people that would have been cool if only CDPR had some honesty from the start. I’m one of those.

          Surely some people would complain even with a transparent and reasonable explanation ( way ahead of release ), but that’s life and you’ll always have those.

    • schlusenbach says:

      I don’t get it. There were hours of Witcher 3 gameplay available weeks/months before release, in part because CDPR invited a bunch of youtubers who made detailed previews of the game. Everybody who wanted to could adjust their expectations of the games’ graphical fidelity by watching these previews. That is also marketing. The 2013 preview trailer definitely wasn’t the only footage of the game.

      With this in mind I don’t get how people can insist that this was manipulative marketing or false advertising. Total bull.

  11. John O says:

    They need to use hairworks for every last leaf of grass. Just so I can look at it and say “hey, that looks nice. Sorta.” To hell with you people trying to actually play the game.

  12. ncampbell says:

    I’ve been playing with smooth framerates (40-60ish) and the fancy hair turned on for about a week now.

    GTX 970 at 2560×1080, the rest of the settings are a couple of clicks above optimal in the GeForce experience game tab (apart from turning on HBAO+).

    Occasionally a wolfpack will cause things getting choppy, but 10 odd wolves all with fancy hair… fair enough.

  13. Spacewalk says:

    Styles of hair beyond system requirements in this game include:

    Long, straight, curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty, oily, greasy, fleecy, shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen, knotted, polka-dotted, twisted, beaded, braided, powdered, flowered, confettied, bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied.

    Hair as long as God can grow it, down to where and blonde hair fashioned into togas are confirmed as DLH.

  14. Krytom says:

    For my GTX 970 system I’ve found that setting the hairworks anti-aliasing to 4 instead of the default 8 (!) allows me to run hairworks quite happily, with foliage on high instead of ultra. Simply edit \Documents\The Witcher 3\user.settings

  15. Horg says:

    If anyone’s wondering about the new Gwent cards, they are sold by the merchant at the bridge to replace the cards that were sold by the innkeeper. After you leave the prologue area, her inventory becomes inaccessible.

  16. welverin says:

    “Updates the game icon”

    Come on people, that is by far the most important part of this update!

  17. internisus says:

    There is a single item in the .ini that controls the anti-aliasing specifically for Hairworks, and by default it is set to 8, which is why the feature impacts framerate so drastically. AMD and Nvidia users alike should go in there and change it to 4 or 2—even 0 if you’re curious. It’s a big help for performance. Hopefully someday CDPR will add this setting to the options menu.

    • Horg says:

      I get the impression that Nvidia wanted HairWorks to be non-scalable at launch to show off the tech in the flag ship (hair ship?) title. Considering the number of complaints about how it runs, i’d be amazed if CDPR don’t open up some customisation options in the future. Manually turning down AA and Tessellation gives it a far more tolerable performance cost.

  18. soopytwist says:

    Nice that they unlocked the key bindings, but still no FOV setting? I had to send the game back to Amazon. I get eye strain with the 60° FOV.

    • scannerbarkly says:

      Whilst I completely understand the importance of FOV sliders and such ( i tend to get motion sickness at certain FOVs ) I use a CE Table for screenshoting that allows me to change the FOV. It’s pretty damn useful I have to say, though not a replacement for devs supporting basic functions.

  19. Biaxident says:

    Read some people getting worse performance (and visuals – eg. shimmering distant terrain) with the newest 1.04 patch. Anyone comment on that? Can’t be bothered reinstalling it all again if it’s no good, rather just wait for the next one.

    • scannerbarkly says:

      I’ve had no issues, but I haven’t had any since launch when it comes to the visuals or getting decent FPS. That said, i’m running a i7 3970x with a heavy overclock and a GTX 980.

      • Biaxident says:

        Good enough for me. I’ve had no problems yet either. Surprisingly high FPS for me and not had a single crash yet (impressed with that one).

  20. Elliot Lannigan says:

    Patch broke Alt+Tab for me. Was working flawlessly, now screws everything up and keeps spontaneously switching back to Borderless mode. Thx for patch guyz :P

  21. suibhne says:

    I don’t get why there isn’t a setting to enable HairWorks solely in cutscenes, the one place a lot of players might feel that Prettiness > Performance.

  22. Uhuru N'Uru says:

    Your expectations are too high, you want the hair physics and 60 FPS, you get 2 Nvidia 980’s for that.
    Otherwise you take a hit in performance with the hair and under 60 FPS.
    or you take a hit in quality without the hair and 60 FPS.

    It’s easy to do but costs some hard earned, that’s PC gaming in a nutshell.
    Top Quality Graphics costs as much as Top Quality Performance
    Combined they cost at least double the price.

    As for those who complain they can’t afford it, no you can nearly always afford it, it’s about what you choose to buy.
    Cant afford it usually means, cant afford it as well as all the other luxuries of modern life, I want today.
    You can’t go out all weekend getting drunk and afford the graphics for example.
    it’s a simple matter of making choices as to which is more important A or B or GPU.
    If A or B are your choice thats fine, but don’t moan you cant have GPU as well, few of us can have it all.
    So choose hair Physics or getting drunk (Other choices fit here also), lifes tough.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      This game often looks fine in action, but that banner pic is legit awful. There’s absolutely no shadows or detail on the grass. It’s like Garret stumbled into a Monet, only Monet on a bad day when he could only afford like two different colors.

      The fact that this game’s single “next gen” feature that necessitates SLI’d 980 is some silly, fucking, gimmicky hair makes me remember fondly buying a new rig just to play Crysis. Of course, I waited a year and a half to buy that rig, but the anticipation just made it all the more sweet.

      I mean, I’ve seen hair works in action and it looks neat and everything, but I’d much rather have (1) grass that doesn’t look like a cartoon blob taking over the earth (or super colorful algae waving around incessantly under the ocean) , (2) smoke, or (3) better particle effects (in that order).

    • Biaxident says:

      “Cant afford it usually means, cant afford it as well as all the other luxuries of modern life, I want today.
      You can’t go out all weekend getting drunk and afford the graphics for example.”

      I don’t know about that. When it comes to a £4-500 graphics card I don’t think being unable to afford it is beyond the realms of imagination.

  23. racccoon says:

    I love my new hair & beard which I got changed for a fee from the hair dresser in the first big town(swim across). I don’t see any fuss about the hair lol
    The game has held me captive as much as Skyrim had done. I’m only in the second area and have covered about half of it so far. if you follow the paths and quests too much you really miss the point of all the fun to be had and the discovery of hidden treasures in and out of the water.

  24. Czrly says:

    Now if they’ll just give us the option to disable timed dialog choices (ugh… honestly, nothing makes a game un-relaxing like having to dive for the mouse in the middle of a cutscene) and fix the floating bushes and Gwent bugs – there are still some – I’ll think it’s ready.

    (I am enjoying the game a huge amount but these three three things would hugely improve it.)

  25. czerro says:

    Meer’s Fancy Hair Dream is an illusionist spell that requires a weekly cooldown. You will find that AMD/NVIDIA/CDProjekt will provide you with one attempt to cast this every week. The failure rate is very high. It is normally better to enchant the Witcher 3 with a Level 1 Triple-buffering.