RPGs had a great year in 2022, but the best of them all came in an update to a seven-year-old game that continues to be the best modern RPG of the last decade. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is now available on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles with a myriad of graphical and quality-of-life enhancements. As opposed to a game like No Man’s Sky, which took several years to become great, The Witcher 3 was a masterpiece from day one. But the new updates show that it still had room to grow and become the best version of itself possible.
Refreshing a classic
On December 14, The Witcher 3 next-gen update was released on current consoles (as well as PC) as a free update for players who already own the game. The update brings with it many changes that breathe new life into the modern classic. Perhaps most notable is the graphical enhancements this update brings to the game, which increase the resolution of textures throughout the game.
There is also a small quest that ties into the Netflix show, as well as the welcome addition of cross-saving, for all those people (me) who bought the game on every platform they’ve owned over the past 7 years. All of these improvements work together to reaffirm that after several years, and the debacle that was Cyberpunk 2077, The Witcher 3 is just as much of a masterpiece as we have made it up to be in our heads.
What is there to say that hasn’t been said about The Witcher 3? There is a reason it is constantly revered as one of the best modern video games ever made. Developer CD Projekt Red proved that the third time is the charm in perfecting a formula. For many gamers, The Witcher 3 was the first Witcher game they ever played, and likely the first time they heard of CD Projekt Red.
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The series worked its way from a clunky first title that is barely playable today to a second attempt that set the blueprint for the fascinating world Geralt inhabits and offered players a startling freedom of choice. The Witcher 3 is built on those foundations.
An unmatched world
Geralt of Rivia is a witcher, a monster hunter for hire who is also on the hunt for his on-again-off-again girlfriend Yennefer and their adoptive daughter Ciri. This mission is the driving force behind The Witcher 3’s narrative and it shepherds Geralt and the player through one of the most gorgeously realized worlds in games. The varied landscapes that span rolling fields to snowy islands and small villages to bustling cities help make the world feel lived in.
But the world holds more than just the main plot and exploring it is one of the greatest joys of The Witcher 3 thanks to its expertly crafted side quests that break the mold of repetitive fetch quests that so many games are known for. If the player gets bored of one activity there is always something else to do such as playing a deeply strategic card game or signing up Geralt for a series of boxing matches across the map.
For those who find that the main game doesn’t have enough The Witcher 3 also had two major story expansions that added even more content to tackle. The last expansion, Blood and Wine, is good enough to hold its own against entire RPGs, even winning best RPG at the 2016 Game Awards.
The next-gen update for The Witcher 3 helps the game reach its full potential, though even after 7 years since its initial release it wasn’t that big of a step to get there.