Earlier today, I drove to a place in North Dublin called Tower Bay, which is about five minutes from my house in Donabate - a small seaside town in Ireland.
"Every game you buy which includes DRM is, in a way, inferior."
4K and performance modes tested by Digital Foundry.
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UPDATE 4PM GMT: Netflix has also confirmed a number of the other actors joining The Witcher cast, including the actress who'll play iconic sorceress Triss Merigold. Taking the role is Anna Shaffer, according to the Hollywood Reporter, who you may remember as Romilda Vane from Harry Potter - the girl who gave Harry a love potion. Shaffer also played Ruby Button in British soap opera Hollyoaks.
Netflix's highly anticipated television adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski's The Witcher series of novels has now found its Ciri and Yennefer.
"Come on. Lighten up. Have a whiff."
UPDATE 15TH NOVEMBER: There was a minor update to this story during a call discussing CD Projekt's Q3 2018 earnings. Joint-CEO Adam Kiciński referred to the issue as "an open one", intimating no decision either way had been made.
Almost 10 years ago to the day, CD Projekt launched the online digital game store Good Old Games. The operation and scope was small - a handful of people salvaging iconic old PC games for modern operating systems - but the prices, customer service and DRM-free message were right, and slowly the service grew. And grew, and grew. And today things are different.
The search for the star of the Netflix Witcher series is over but I can't work out if it's a bird or a plane or... That's right, it's cleft-chinned British actor Henry Cavill, who launched to fame portraying Superman recently, playing the iconic witcher Geralt.
Two small script excerpts linked to the in-development Witcher Netflix show have leaked, and have been verified as authentic.
Did you know there was a Witcher Tabletop Roleplaying Game in development, one you will play with pen and paper? It has a release date and it's not far away! The game will debut at tabletop paradise Gen Con on 2nd August, then will be sold via developer R. Talsorian Games' website and DriveThruRPG soon after.
Summer landscapes can be taken for granted as bright and breezy backdrops to games. However, what spring started, summer finishes. Following on from the rebirth of spring, summer further fuels and invigorates the landscape. Lands become majestically colourful, gorgeously lush and bursting at the seams with life as the peak of the growing season and life cycle are hit. Bright sunlight basks the land in glorious light and stretches the days, while vivid foliage spreads as far as the eye can see, punctuated by glorious flowering plants, laying a carpet of life over the land. These are the hazy days of summer, indeed. Life breeds life and swathes of landscape are transformed, covered in lush foliage and colour, while the land becomes more productive, increasing interaction and function.
CD Projekt Red is expanding. The main Warsaw office has ballooned and the company has opened two other studios in Poland, one in Wrocław and one in Kraków - which is where I am now.
The Witcher 3 turns three today, so what better time to remember why it's one of the games of the generation.
Glaives, pikes, bardiches, halberds, partisans, spears, picks and lances. Javelins, arbalests, crossbows, longbows, claymores, zweihänder, broadswords and falchions. Flails, clubs, morning stars, maces, war hammers, battle axes and, of course, longswords. If you ever played a fantasy RPG or one of many historically-themed action or strategy games, you'll already be familiar with an impressive array of medieval weaponry. The medieval arsenal has had an enormous impact on games since their early days, and their ubiquity makes them seem like a natural, fundamental part of many virtual worlds.
CD Projekt RED's The Witcher 3 has recently received yet another upgrade, with patch 1.61 bringing high dynamic range support to PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro - a welcome bonus for a game swiftly approaching its third anniversary. With the release of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X enhancements, this vintage 2015 title has never looked better on consoles. This HDR upgrade for PlayStation 4 users should have been the icing on the cake, but something's not quite right here - and it looks like the PS4 version needs one more patch before it's everything as it should be.
Let's kick off with the positives. The high dynamic range support is a real positive for PlayStation 4 consoles, and combines beautifully with the 4K checkerboarding on PS4 Pro. It gives it parity with Xbox One X in display support, and there's no question the new Toussaint area from the Blood and Wine expansion shines in particular. But the price to pay on PS4 Pro for this upgrade is significant: curiously, draw distances for foliage and shadows are visibly dialed back on 1.61 - notably on the console's 4K output mode. This leads to more pop-in of grass - almost as if it's sprouting from the ground a few metres ahead, while more shadows visibly fade in ahead of Geralt during traversal.
In the video embedded on this page, you'll see that we grabbed some fresh Witcher 3 capture from patch 1.61, and stacked it up against our library 1.50 captures - the degraded LODs are fairly easy to pick up on, and it's certainly been noticed by the game's dedicated community. And there's more - shadow draw distance in 4K mode has also been cut back compared to the original 1.50 patch the debuted Pro support.
There's been the suggestion of multiplayer in CD Projekt Red's new game Cyberpunk 2077 for a while. In 2013, studio head Adam Badowski even told me "we're going to add multiplayer features", although he also said "it will be a story-based RPG experience with amazing single-player playthroughs". Regardless, that was five years ago, and a lot has happened since then.
It is confirmed: Geralt of Rivia, star of The Witcher series, will be a fighter in Soulcalibur 6. The castle grounds of Kaer Morhen will be his stage.
It will be the first time Geralt has appeared outside of a Witcher video game, which is something I'm sure Witcher creator Andrzej Sapkowski will be over the moon about - although if the Netflix Witcher series he's involved with takes off I'm sure he won't mind too much.
Geralt's Soulcalibur 6 cameo puts him in elite company: Yoda and Darth Vader were the iconic headline cameos in Soulcalibur 4, and Assassin's Creed's best-loved hero, Ezio, cameoed in Soulcalibur 5. His inclusion probably has a lot to do with Soulcalibur 6 being made by Witcher distributor Bandai Namco, and the company sniffing a cross-pollination opportunity, but it shows how popular The Witcher and Geralt have become nonetheless.
UPDATE 5PM GMT: Microsoft has confirmed it. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings will, alongside Crackdown, Fable Anniversary and Forza Horizon, be enhanced for Xbox One X.
The Witcher 3's enhanced Xbox One X patch gives us more than we expected. Two new options are added with this update: a 4K mode that puts the emphasis on hitting a native 3840x2160 at 30 frames per second, falling back on dynamic resolution scaling to ensure a consistent gameplay experience. But the real surprise is the inclusion of a performance mode that prioritises 60fps gameplay, albeit at a much lower pixel-count. On paper, CD Projekt Red's latest release should be the definitive console release, but just how does the package on Xbox One X stand up to the recently released PS4 Pro patch?
Let's talk numbers. The 4K mode is ambitious when considering a standard Xbox One largely ran the game at 1600x900. In Xbox One X's case we're getting a huge boost in pixels rendered with this mode, and even though it's capped at a familiar 30fps ceiling, the engine is capable of hitting 3840x2160 in less taxing areas. Look to the sky, wander around interiors, or explore less GPU-intensive environments, and the game has never looked sharper. However, the catch is that resolution drops in more intensive areas. As an example, galloping around the notorious Crookback Bog - an area renowned for its impact on performance - sees the image resolve to a lower 3200x1800.
Regardless, the result is impressive. While there's a scope for it to go even lower (there's literally a huge open world here with a multitude of possible tests), an 1800p to 2160p range still falls within a perceptual threshold in delivering a superb result on 4K display. By contrast, PS4 Pro makes use of a checkerboard method to push its own 4K image. Side-by-side with X's native output, the checkerboarding technique still works brilliantly, and the only real downside here is a faint stippling effect on moving edges, largely hidden by the game's motion blur.
CD Projekt Red has released the Xbox One X patch for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
The patch adds two new graphical modes: Performance and 4K.
The 4K mode locks The Witcher 3 at a 4K resolution with a stable 30 frame-rate. But the performance mode unlocks the game's resolution and targets 60 frames-per-second instead. This means your game will dynamically scale from 1080p up to 4K.
The Witcher Netflix series will reportedly be adapted by the driving force behind Marvel's Daredevil and Defenders shows.
Witcher game maker CD Projekt Red has let off a zinger on Twitter while trying to calm fears Cyberpunk 2077 will be out to take more of our money.
What would The Witcher 1 prologue tutorial - where amnesiac Geralt is hauled in from the woods by his witcher pals and taken to the iconic castle Kaer Morhen - look like remade in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt? After all, Kaer Morhen and Geralt's pals all appear in The Witcher 3.
If you put your disc of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in your Xbox One X and play the game unpatched it will run at 60 frames per second.
The Witcher 3 was one of the only games to ship with an unlocked framerate. Simply what you're seeing, then, is the extra grunt of Microsoft's new console at work.
NX Gamer compared the unpatched performance of The Witcher 3 on Xbox One X against patched performance on Xbox One.
Have you ever wondered what a Witcher musical would look like on stage at the theatre? Would Geralt sing and dance? With Roach? Would there be magic, monsters and romance?
Some recent team-leader level departures from Cyberpunk 2077 led to speculation there was trouble in paradise - and paradise began sounding worse and worse the more CD Projekt Red company reviews on employee feedback site Glassdoor I read.
CD Projekt has said it will address a crashing problem some The Witcher 3 players have suffered after downloading the recently-released PlayStation 4 Pro update.
Reports on NeoGAF and reddit complained about The Witcher 3 crashing after the 1.50 patch was installed.
This patch, which adding 4K resolution support, came out last week. Digital Foundry did its thing soon after.
CD Projekt Red was apparently having so much fun with Geralt's skidding mechanic while making The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the team briefly turned him into a snowboarder, slapping a hat and a pair of goggles on him, a board under his feet and then shoving him down a snowy mountain.
UPDATE 5TH OCTOBER: Digital Foundry has early impressions of The Witcher 3 PS4 Pro patch, observing checkerboard rendering at 1920x2160 resolution as well as a boost to presentation at 1080p.
ORIGINAL STORY 4TH OCTOBER: The Witcher 3 PS4 Pro patch has just arrived, adding 4K resolution support and a "slight" boost to performance. It took longer than "just a few days" after all.
"Yes, the game has just received an upgrade patch, enabling it to take advantage of the additional power offered by the PS4 Pro," CD Projekt Red told me. "When playing the game on a PS4 Pro system, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and all its additional content feature support for 4K resolution and a slight boost to performance."
A decade before CD Projekt Red's The Witcher (1) was released, there was another Witcher game was being made.
A new Polish documentary has unearthed rare footage of old and unreleased Witcher games. On show are Metropolis' canned Witcher game from 1997, as well as CD Projekt Red's fumbled first efforts at a game.
UPDATE 9PM BST: CD Projekt Red has since downplayed the "few days" proximity to me. "PS4 Pro and Xbox One X: both technical updates are coming," senior PR manager Radek Adam Grabowski told me. "More details about them, including the exact moment when they will be released, are something we are going to announce when the right time comes." Will it be "just a few days", then, or significantly longer?
As to the '100 people working on Witcher' intrigue, Grabowski clarified that the comment, as expected, referred to the number of people working on Gwent.
ORIGINAL STORY 6PM BST: CD Projekt has said a PlayStation 4 Pro update for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be available in "just a few days".
A new book has revealed the turbulent development of some of the biggest games in recent times.
Developer CD Projekt has released a lovely video to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Witcher game series.
What do you do when you have a bit of spare time on your hands - "I honestly had nothing better to do in my life" - and a fondness for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt? Why, you remake one of the game's iconic cinematic trailers in MS Paint of course!
You pick a particularly grizzly Witcher 3 trailer called Killing Monsters and give it a cartoon look. Instead of people seeing Geralt intervene in a lady's roadside hanging in sumptuous CGI, they now see him slay human monsters as if doodled by a child which, well, rather alters the impact.
The redrawing comes from Kubstoff's YouTube channel, and that's their quote I used above. Kubstoff MS Paint-ified the Battlefield 1 cinematic trailer a month ago.
What if mutant monster hunter Geralt, the eponymous witcher in The Witcher books and video games, were a samurai? What if The Witcher 4 went East?
Mention the city in the middle ages, and you likely either conjure images of streets awash in faeces and offal, or of a cosy collection of quaint houses reminding people of gallant knights and ladies. Even though cities harking back to medieval times have been a staple of fantasy games ever since the inception of the genre, they usually do little to challenge the clichés presented by Renaissance fairs or grimdark pseudo-realism. To make things worse, those sterile spaces function primarily as pit stops for the player, a place to get new quests, to rest, or to trade. It's difficult to imagine everyday life in those places once the hero is out of town. They're little more than cardboard cut-outs (I'm looking at you, Skyrim).
Have you ever played Witcher 3 and thought Geralt of Rivia wasn't extreme enough? Well then, you're in luck, because a series of new mods will fix that issue.
Adult colouring books are a thing, don't tell me you hadn't noticed, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is also a thing, so what if...? Oh my good golly gosh it's happening!
There's a new mod available for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on PC that reworks textures and models to make the game look better.
"We had Communism and we had Cyberpunk."
Can't wait for the Witcher Netflix series? This 30-minute Witcher fan film, Alzur's Legacy, looks surprisingly good. Perhaps it's because it's professionally made by a recognised Polish cast and competent crew - or perhaps it's because the main character isn't Geralt.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be enhanced for Xbox One X and PS4 Pro.
"I can confirm that we are working both on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro patches for The Witcher 3," CD Projekt Red told me this afternoon. "No extra details at this moment. More info is coming."
The Witcher 3 was one of the games shown on Microsoft's stage as 'Xbox One X Enhanced" last night.
Whether you're traversing an expansive open world, climbing crumbling ruins or sneaking between shadowy city corners, the landscapes and environments we see in games have never been better. Gone are the days of miracle-growing trees popping up at certain draw distances. Instead, we have places and environments deliberately and carefully designed, and landscapes so realistic we can relate to them, be astonished by them, even yearn for them. Naturally, ever-improving graphical capabilities have a lot to do with this, because as environments get more realistic, we increasingly experience them as 'real', but there can be, and often is, so much more to it than just the technical ability to crank up the aesthetics.
Hey, hipster! Get those turntables out. A snazzy double soundtrack vinyl LP is coming for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
UPDATE #2 18TH May 10AM BST: Actor Doug Cockle, who voices character Geralt in the English language Witcher video games, is not attached to the Netflix series. But he would like to be. He has put out a rallying cry on Twitter for anyone who feels similar to make their voices heard.
Andrzej Sapkowski has something of a reputation.
Guess who pops up in Horizon: Zero Dawn? Oh I see, you read the headline. Yes Geralt of Rivia, The Witcher, how about that?
Few video game protagonists keep to strict working hours, and how could they? When there's a war to win, a world to save, a lover's heart to ensnare and all the other grand and arduous problems that a game designer asks us to solve, it would be practically irresponsible to clock off a five for a pint of lager, a packet of crisps and a prestige TV box set. Even if they did have time to unwind then, just as we rarely see Tony Soprano bobbing away at the urinal, or Donald Draper questingly exploring a nostril, surely these parts of the game would be first for the editor's chop. What Lara Croft does to relax (eating caviar off her butler's extended arm while listening to Brahms, I like to imagine) is rarely relevant to the story at hand. Aside from the indulgently barmy Final Fantasy XV, what your character eats for dinner rarely has a place in the core gameplay loop.
The muscled man who has his own Witcher calendar - he as Geralt, naturally, and naturalistically - now stars in a fanmade Witcher film. And as with the calendar, the film is rather a tip top jolly corker.
The old, obsolete CD Projekt Red forum has been hacked and users' email addresses, usernames and encrypted passwords stolen.
Data breach site Have I been Pwned? put the number of compromised accounts at 1.9m.
CD Projekt Red confirmed the news on its current forum last night.
It's the middle of December, 10 days away from Christmas. I'm on a train chugging along the south coast of England, across chilly countryside under a darkening grey sky. It's almost idyllic but mostly bleak, and so very ordinary - I've watched industrial estates and small villages like these roll by a hundred times before. This isn't where you'd normally go looking for a superstar.
It's a new year, which means lots of people are turning to diet and exercise to help shed the weight gained over the festive period. Not me apparently; today I fried some turkey in oil and then added a whole bunch of ricotta cheese to the mix.
Happy New Year! Valve has revealed the top 100 best selling games on Steam in 2016. And given the size and dominance of Steam in the desktop gaming marketplace, the results are worth noting.
It's the 'Geralt in the bathtub' photograph that sells it for me. Our muscled hero, butt naked, legs akimbo and dangling over the tub towards us, dignity hidden by a fortunate obstruction. It's a scene every bit as subversive in this impressive Witcher cosplay calendar as in the opening moments of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. You expected naked ladies but instead you can have naked Geralt. The literal cheek.
Former notable Witcher and Gwent designer Damien Monnier has a new job - one not a million miles away from his last. He's landed at Techland, Polish developer of Dying Light, as lead designer of a new IP.
Minigames are interesting things. They're purpose built to distract the player - to give them something different to do for ten minutes in order to break up the flow of the main game. In a sense, they're tacit admissions of the fact that sometimes games - especially long ones - can get a bit monotonous.
The GOG Monstrous Fall Sale has begun and runs from today until 13th November. Eye-catching discounts include The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Game of the Year Edition (which contains both expansions) for an alluring £20.99! Oh the benefit of CD Projekt owning GOG.
His smile fair as spring, as towards him he draws you. His tongue sharp and silvery, as he implores you
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will not be patched or updated to support the 4K features of PlayStation 4 Pro.
Poland is getting a limited edition run of The Witcher stamps featuring grizzled mutant hunk Geralt of Rivia. Well jel.
All done with The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine are you? No you're not! You missed something - you all did. And no it isn't the secret Witcher 3 painting on the hill.
The thing that The Witcher 3 does best, better than most other games, is war. This doesn't sound remarkable until you consider the huge number of games that are specifically about war - that make you do war and be in it - and that war itself never appears in The Witcher, at least not directly. We see battlefields and garrisons, occupations and barricades, but never open conflict. War is in a constant state of passing through, enormous and unseen, always at some distant proximity, but written into the land of The Witcher 3 and the people on it, in magic and misery.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's impending Game of the Year Edition will include all of the game's DLC, but there's one notable caveat: your save data from the original game won't transfer over to this complete collection.
There are few things less surprising about most fantasy games than how they portray magic, which is a pretty depressing state of affairs given that magic is, by definition, the art of doing the impossible. The impossible, it turns out, has a fairly limited set of applications. By and large, it means hitting foes with elementally-flavoured balls of fire, turbo-charging your stats or zapping wounded allies back to fighting fitness, in accordance with a collection of tactical rule sets derived from the works of Tolkien via Dungeons and Dragons.
CD Projekt Red has confirmed the release date for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Game of the Year Edition as 30th August. In some territories it will be known as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Complete Edition.
That Tuesday, 30th August release date appears to be worldwide and for all three platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
The Game of the Year edition includes the base Witcher 3 game as well as both expansion packs - Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine - and all downloadable content.
The Witcher 3's virtual card game spin-off Gwent has been delayed. Originally it was slated to enter closed beta on PC and Xbox One in September, but now it's been pushed back until 25th October.
"Unfortunately, we feel we need some extra time with the game before we hand it off to you for testing," developer CD Project Red said in a statement. "We know we can make a first impression only once, and want to be sure everything is ready before we blast off.
"Delivering a good game is more important to us than keeping a deadline. Still, that doesn't mean we don't realise that delays can be disappointing, and we apologise for making you wait."
The Witcher 3 now has a collection of fine art prints.
According to the date but perhaps not the sky it's summer - so there's a summer sale on the PlayStation Store. It's under way now and there are some eye-catching bargains.
An intrepid modder is reworking The Witcher 3 so it can be played in first-person.
UPDATE 1PM BST: CD Projekt Red has, in a statement given to Eurogamer, confirmed The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Game of the Year Edition.
Microsoft's big Xbox summer sale kicks off tomorrow.
Ah when creativity inspires creativity! Behold the work of professional artist Astor Alexander, who has made characters from The Witcher series, Mario, Zelda, BioShock and Metroid look very different indeed. He's turned them into pulp book covers, noir detective images and even Renaissance-style paintings.
What a peach!
High up on the furthest mountain in The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine there's a secret. You can't get there normally because it's out of bounds. But if you use a mod to run the game in debug mode and unlock the game's camera then you can teleport Geralt there. Then you'll see it.
It's been a good week for people who enjoy half-cloaks and complicated bits of machinery, all things told. Star Wars Battlefront's new DLC let's you play as cape-sporting cloud man Lando Calrissian, whereas Fallout 4's Contraptions workshop DLC lets you tinker with all sorts of, well, contraptions.
Horse's tail disappearing? Body parts floating in mid-air? Marlene not talking to you? Sounds like you need The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt patch 1.22 (out now).
Note that this patch fixes the Beehive White Orchard money exploit in Witcher 3. Why don't you leave that poor dwarf alone.
There's no new content for The Witcher 3 and there won't be now - we know that - but there is a relatively long list of issues addressed.
As expected, the rumoured Witcher 3 card game Gwent has been announced as a standalone game at E3.
This is the "new type of video game format previously unexplored by the studio" that CD Projekt Red mentioned earlier in the year.
This version of Gwent looks slicker, and has a full multiplayer and single-player mode.
CD Projekt plans to release Gwent, the card game that's a part of The Witcher 3, as a standalone game.
There's a way of exploiting The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to earn lots and lots of money, and it involves rolling a beehive into town and then having the bees sting and kill a dwarf, obviously.
The Witcher 3 is a fantastic-looking game - but modders are making it look even better.
The new Toussaint region of The Witcher 3's Blood and Wine expansion looks stunning on PC, but its delivery on console has - until now - been a mystery. To benefit the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One delivery of this new area, developer CD Projekt Red states a more memory-efficient approach to streaming in assets is in effect here - in theory helping to improve frame-rates over the base game. But how does either stack up to the PC release, and are there any lingering performance troubles?
The basic setup remains from the original The Witcher 3 content, in certain respects. We get a full native 1920x1080 on PS4, while Xbox One typically runs at 1600x900. For the most part this defines the rift in visual quality between the two; an upscaled image causing details to blur on Xbox One - while texture quality is identical when viewing the console outputs up-close. Each also matches PC's best quality texture maps, and thankfully the layout of geometry across Toussaint is unchanged, meaning consoles get this beautiful new area in all its glory.
There is a visual advantage on PC, and the differences between the three versions of Blood and Wine largely come down to draw distances. For example, PC's overview of Toussaint's main city reveals a broader draw distance for shadow detail, while more trees also render in across its far hillsides. This only occurs at extreme range however, and PS4 and Xbox One tend to produce the same density of foliage and NPCs while in the city's main plaza. Each is rife with detail, but it's only in moving to PC that we realise what the ultra setting for terrain brings to the table.
One of the many great things about The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine is that it knows how to have fun. The new region of Toussaint is packed with weird characters and weirder quests, so I collected some of my favourites in the video below.
I really enjoyed The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine; so much so, in fact, I gave it a gold sticker. I think it's a brilliant romp from the very start, but thankfully you don't have to take my word for it - I went back and captured the first half hour of Blood and Wine to give you a taste for the lovely region of Toussaint. Spoiler warning for the first half hour of Blood and Wine, obviously.
There's a huge new patch for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that introduces key new features such as level-scaling for enemies; a book that shows you how many Gwent cards you're missing and where you can find them; and an overhaul for the user interface. Cor blimey.
Patch 1.2 (2.6-2.8GB on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One depending on region; 4.5GB on GOG; 2.5GB on Steam) coincides with the release of second Witcher 3 expansion, Blood and Wine, which is out now and you should buy, as our Witcher 3: Blood and Wine review points out.
Level-scaling can be turned on and off, and does not affect experience point gain or loot received. The Gwent book is called 'The Miraculous Guide to Gwent' and is either given by the scholar during the prologue or can by bought from a merchant near St. Gregory's Bridge in the Gildorf district of Novigrad.
The upcoming Blood and Wine expansion for The Witcher 3 has some of the most striking areas seen running on REDengine 3, and for those who felt The Witcher 3 fell short
of its ambitious E3 showings, it marks a strong comeback. Set around the richly detailed, rose-adorned kingdom of Toussaint, its central castle has parallels with the bustling Novigrad city of the main game. That original Novigrad area came under scrutiny at the game's launch - serving as an example of how CD Projekt Red's vision had changed by release. Can Toussaint be a redemptive moment for the studio?
Turn back the clock to E3 2014, and Geralt took us on a horseback tour through the incredible Novigrad hub - a vibrant, colourful harbour brimming with NPCs. Much of this promise came to bear in the final product, but it was hard to overlook some of its omissions. Lighting became visibly flatter in the transition from the showfloor to the home experience - and missed the crisper, saturated look we enjoyed on first sighting. Assets were also notably changed too; we got lower-resolution floor textures, and draw distances were reined in across the city. A compromise was apparent.
There are whispers and speculation but I can tell you Cyberpunk 2077 will definitely not be at E3 this year. That comes from the horse's mouth: CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwinski himself.
The most endearing thing about the knights of old is not their chivalry, their boldness or their devotion to beauty. Rather, it's how enthusiastically they use those three qualities to justify behaving like total idiots. Take Sir Lancelot in Chrétien De Troyes' The Knight of the Cart, for instance. In one passage, Lancelot watches from the highest window of a tower as the queen rides past, gazing "attentively and with pleasure at her." Then, "when he could no longer see her, he wanted to throw himself from the window and shatter his body on the ground below." He tries it too, just like that; the anguish of having a pretty lady break his line of sight is enough for this valiant knight to throw a whopping, potentially fatal tantrum. It delights me to say that the knights of Toussaint, the new region on offer in The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine, are no less sincere. Or stupid.
In the second and final expansion for The Witcher 3, Geralt is whisked off to an opulent region of bold knights and boastful deeds; one that might just be the most beautiful open world ever seen in a video game. The Temeria of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was often a grave and unforgiving place where pockets of colour fought for their place in the world. Toussaint, meanwhile, is all bravado; a rich colour palette bursts from every corner, the armour is frilly and pompous, and the city guards issue warnings in rhyming couplets for crying out loud.
The vibrant, almost garish campness of Toussaint forms a pleasing contrast with Temeria that's only improved by the addition of the surly, unkempt Geralt of Rivia. From the moment the first dandyish knights sashay into view, it's clear CD Projekt Red is determined to have a bit of fun in its final outing with The Witcher - indeed, Geralt is such a predictably salty counterpoint to all this pomp and bluster that Blood and Wine's opening section feels like one long, knowing wink. One of the first things Geralt does in this new adventure is find a handkerchief monogrammed DLC, and that's just the beginning; he kills a giant, attends a gladiatorial battle in a tournament arena and is gifted his very own vineyard, all in little over an hour.
CD Projekt Red has released a video showing off the brand new Toussaint region from upcoming Witcher 3 expansion Blood and Wine.
According to CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwinski, the company doesn't have a next Witcher game in any kind of development. Nor is one planned.
CD Projekt Red has officially announced the release date for the second, and final, Witcher 3 expansion Blood and Wine. It is 31st May, a day later than was rumoured yesterday.
The release date arrives as the embargo lifts on Blood and Wine coverage. I spent a few hours with the game and also talked to key figures in the development team; one person told me Blood and Wine was "a graphical upgrade from the base game", and another confirmed there would be no new content released for Witcher 3 after the expansion arrives. There will, however, be patches.
Blood and Wine is available individually for £15.99 or can be bundled with the game's first expansion, Hearts of Stone, for £20.
A year ago I sat in a room with a downcast Adam Badowski, studio head of CD Projekt Red, and we talked about The Witcher 3 'graphics downgrade'. He wanted his game to visually knock people's socks off but instead it faced criticism.
The second, bigger Witcher 3 expansion Blood and Wine may be released 30th May.
That's according to an apparent Steam listing for the game that jumped the gun yesterday and has since been taken down. A screenshot was captured on Twitter (via IGN) and looks authentic.
Among the expansion details on Steam was word that players will own a vineyard in the new content, be able to dye their armour, and collect a new Skellige-themed deck for card game Gwent. There's also mention of a grand tourney to take part in.
It is the breastplate around.
Old and new.
This is more like it. The Witcher 3's second expansion, Blood & Wine, is a treat - as welcome a return to the adventures of monster hunter Geralt as you could ask for. It's even bigger than we've been led to believe. More than 30 hours of content - not 20 as we've been previously told - in a new region the size of No Man's Land, but at very different ends of the visual spectrum.
Whereas No Man's Land is ravaged by war, the new region of Toussaint is untouched by it, an idyll reminiscent of Southern France that's bursting with life and colour, a whole new palette of crumbly old buildings drenched in golden sunlight and wrapped in ivy. It is distractingly beautiful - a fairytale land of knights and chivalry, the ornate palace of Beauclair jutting like a Disney centre-point in the middle. But it's also a region stalked by a mysterious and merciless killer, one who turns out to be far more complex than you at first imagine.
But arguably the two standout features in Blood & Wine are its new Mutation character development system, and how it gives you - Geralt - a vineyard. Yes that's right, no more sleeping on the road: a place to finally call your own. And you can upgrade it, eventually unlocking buffs applied when you sleep there. These buffs range from extra health for Geralt to extra stamina for his horse Roach, extra potion uses or extra experience point gain.
There won't be any new content released for The Witcher 3 after second expansion Blood and Wine, game director Konrad Tomaszkiewicz has told me.
Here's an easy story to digest: pictures. Specifically, a clutch of new screenshots for upcoming Witcher 3 expansion Blood & Wine.
Bang! I'm woken up from a deep sleep in the middle of my first night at Witcher School by the sound of explosions in the castle courtyard below. Witcher masters yell as they stamp up the stairs and open the heavy wooden doors to our dormitory tower to wake us. I find my uniform - rough tanned trousers and shirt, padded brown gambeson fastened over the top - and throw it on. It is freezing.
It's been a brilliant financial year for CD Projekt, crowned by the release of The Witcher 3, a critical and commercial success that has propelled the Polish company to sales and revenue an order of magnitude higher than anything it's enjoyed before.
This year's BAFTA Game Awards include a whopping 10 nominations for Everybody's Gone to the Rapture.
Win my heart and I will forgive you: it's so simple. I don't mind the niggling bits if I love something overall - I can even write them off as charming quirks of character. But abuse my heart and upend my smile and the flaws, well, they become sprouts in my Christmas pudding: disgusting.
The first screenshots of second Witcher 3 expansion, Blood and Wine, have been released. They show a grand city and the palace of Beauclair basking in the sun, as well as a vineyard in the new Toussaint region, which is famed for its wine.
With 2015 rapidly drawing to a close (seriously, where has this year gone?), we at Eurogamer are faced with the difficult task of picking a game of the year. And as Chris and I discovered, there's nothing quite like combing through the year's releases to make you realise how many games you haven't played.
GOG.com has launched its annual winter sale, which is set to feature new discounts each day until 13th December.
GOG now offers the first significant Witcher 3 discount I'm aware of, slicing 50 per cent off the price, bringing the game to £25. The offer kicks off a Black Friday-inspired, five-day discount binge known as the 'Only on GOG.com' sale.
Green Man Gaming, following a spat with popular subreddit Game Deals, has made a change and will now tell buyers where game keys come from.
A Witcher movie, which is nothing to do with Polish game maker CD Projekt Red, now has a global release date of 2017. It will both introduce the world of the Witcher and serve as the beginning of a series to continue in film and on TV.
Patch 1.11 for The Witcher 3 finally appears to fix the long-running issue some people have been having with the Skellige's Most Wanted quest.
"Fixes issue occasionally preventing players from completing quest titled Skellige's Most Wanted," say the notes, and there are a couple of other related tweaks to the quest too.
Community manager Marcin Momot shared the notes on Twitter moments ago. As to the patch's availability he said, "PC should be out in just a few hours and consoles will be following shortly as well." There's no word on file size.
Remember that Witcher 3 money exploit in starting area White Orchard where you could kill cows for their hides, meditate for a couple of hours, and then do it all again? It was patched and fixed brilliantly with a grotesque cow boss who shows up if you try it on, but that's not the point. Point is, if you did it, or any money exploit like it, you may be in for a fine - an in-game fine.
This is the big one for The Witcher 3. Measuring in at 15GB on console, update 1.10 arrives with an essay's worth of patch notes - easily the biggest to date from CD Projekt Red. Among its 600 plus entries, we're mostly looking at bug fixes and gameplay tune-ups, and curiously no performance boosts are noted at all for PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. But with each update comes a huge expectation that console frame-rates will - at last - see improvement. And after so many false dawns, we can safely say patch 1.10 is finally the one to deliver - for PS4, at least.
The good news first. PS4 benefits hugely from the update, and our first stress-test in Crookback Bog shows the biggest gains in the shift to patch 1.10. This area's fog and water transparency effects push the engine hardest, and notoriously, prior versions of the game locked PS4 to the 20fps line here. But with everything updated fully, frame-rates now stick closer to the 30fps line across the entirety of our run. At points this gives The Witcher 3 a boost of 10fps overall on PS4, and it overtakes a fully-patched Xbox One version in direct comparison.
Drops are still felt, and the graph hits 28fps at points - sometimes lower. But it's fair to say it's a step forward, and a much smoother gameplay experience overall in what were previously troublespots. As one of the worst case scenarios, Crookback Bog doesn't fairly represent frame-rates across the breadth of the game. Nevertheless, for the missions that include it, we're looking at a far more stable read-out.
UPDATE 4PM BST: The patch is 15GB on console and between six-15GB on PC, community manager Marcin Momot has revealed. The Hearts of Stone expansion will be a separate download (comes out 13th October). But according to Momot, speaking in an email, the HOS download will be "considerably smaller".
ORIGINAL STORY 1.45PM BST: Witcher 3 patch 1.10 has been detailed and the notes stretch on for pages - there are more than 600 changes! "The update itself is right around the corner and should be here in a matter of days," community manager Marcin Momot said on the game's forum - and that's on all platforms.
Among the many points is word an Xbox One memory management issue has been fixed, as have the mini-freezes on the console when looting. There is no specific mention anywhere of PlayStation 4, but there are many more quest-specific performance issues fixed besides.
Includes some mild spoilers.
By calling Hearts of Stone an expansion, Polish developer CD Projekt Red set an expectation - an expectation of something grand, and something extraordinary. Ordinary, you see, is downloadable content. Expansions are rarer, bigger beasts. But in the case of Hearts of Stone, 'expansion' is misleading. Sure, it's £8, so it's not comparable to a £35 World of Warcraft expansion, and it has only been in development for around five months, but still: it doesn't quite live up to the billing.
Hearts of Stone is for level 30 characters, and there's one provided gratis if you don't have one. The main focus is a 10-hour story, which you begin by heading to a notice board marked on your map, and everything that then unfolds takes place in the same world you've already explored, albeit in less-trodden areas. As such it never feel as shiny and new as the best expansions do, and it takes a while to stand apart and resemble something more than yet another quest in an already abundant game. But Hearts does get better.
Two characters in particular stand out: the two key figures of the Hearts story. One you've met before, and I certainly never expected to see again, and the other is an immortal - something CD Projekt Red has already announced (I don't want to spoil more than that - look away from the gallery at the bottom of this article to preserve secrets). Discovering their motivations and their secrets pulls you along. There's also another romance to pursue with a character old Witcher-game fans will recognise, and doing so doesn't affect your relationship with Yennefer or Triss - it's guilt-free in that regard. And when these stories warm up, Hearts really gets going. This is CD Projekt Red relaxing after the serious work of the main game, playing around with what you think you know about how certain characters behave, particularly Geralt. At points, Hearts hits genuinely funny notes.
CD Projekt Red has issued a formal statement to Eurogamer this morning in response to an unfounded rumour that spread yesterday.
The Witcher 3 expansion Hearts of Stone will be released 13th October, CD Projekt Red has announced. This is the first of two planned expansions; the second, Blood & Wine, arrives Q1 2016.
Hearts of Stone will introduce a new gameplay mechanic called Runewords that "significantly" affect gameplay, says the press release. "Each Runeword will impact a different aspect of in-game mechanics and will allow the players to experiment with various strategies and tactics." It also has new monsters, new characters and a new romance.
Hearts of Stone can be accessed any time throughout The Witcher 3 campaign but is designed for Geralt characters level 30 or higher. It takes place in the wilds of No Man's Land, near Novigrad and Oxenfurt, and involves a contract to kill a bandit captain who possesses the power of immortality. No pressure. Your path through the expansion is up to you. You can recruit break-in artists and party with a ghost, apparently. Judging by the below trailer, Geralt is also a prisoner for at least some of it.
CD Projekt has announced that The Witcher 3 sold 6m copies in six weeks.
As of the financial period ending 30th June the exact count was 6,014,576 copies sold. We're nearly two months on now, so presumably it's significantly higher.
The company revealed the numbers in a financial presentation and summary of a board report.
New Game Plus has just come to The Witcher 3, allowing players to start their adventures as Geralt of Rivia all over again while maintaining their current character level. Considering the game itself offers 200 hours of game time for a single play through (assuming you've got the time), it's a fairly daunting undertaking.
Nonetheless, having put the main story to bed, I decided to jump in to NG+ and see how different the gameplay experience is with the new mode enabled. Turns out it's quite a bit trickier. Have a look at the video below, in which I discuss the XP system and gear leveling before failing spectacularly to bring down the Griffin of White Orchard.
If you haven't finished The Witcher 3 yet, fear not - this video is guaranteed spoiler free.
I was there when The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt launched. For three days I was in the eye of the storm of perhaps the biggest game launch I'm ever likely to personally see. And what follows is my account of it - an account first published 20th August 2015.
What I didn't know back then was the impact The Witcher 3 would have. But a year later, as the ever-so-appropriate Game of the Year Edition arrives, the impact is clear: The Witcher 3 has become a new benchmark, for role-playing games and beyond. So enjoy a trip down memory lane in celebration of it.
Don't do anything silly, I'm told, or they'll probably shoot you.
UPDATE 17/08/2015: Witcher 3 players have criticised CD Projekt for failing to release a REDKit mod tool.
UPDATE 13/8/15 10:15am - We've updated this piece with a full analysis of how disabling post-process blur effects can improve performance, most noticeably on PlayStation 4. The video is embedded at the foot of this piece.
Original story: Rolled out to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 owners last weekend, patch 1.08 puts frame-rate tweaks at the top of the bill, with its notes stating
"improvements to performance, including some issues that may have been caused by 1.07". To recap on this point, the last patch introduced some surprising downgrades in frame-rate - most alarmingly a hard 20fps cap on Xbox One in the Crookback Bog area where before it ran in the region of 28fps. Fortunately, having tested the latest patch in the same areas, we can confirm a definite frame-rate gain once the new update is installed.
The Witcher is getting a pen-and-paper role-playing game spin-off, developer CD Projekt Red has announced.
UPDATE 28/07/2015: CD Projekt has revealed how The Witcher 3's upcoming new game plus mode works.
It's the biggest update so far for The Witcher 3, with patch 1.07 demanding chunky 7.3GB of space on your PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. With that HDD footprint comes some suitably big features - most anticipated of all being a new stash system for your inventory, and an alternative animation system designed to make control of Geralt more responsive. But contrary to expectations, its touted benefits to performance aren't apparent on close examination. In fact, frame-rates in many areas are noticeably worse on both platforms once the patch is installed. Suffice to say, we weren't expecting that.
Let's start with Xbox One. Our analysis shows Microsoft's console retains its advantage in frame-rate over the PS4, but there's a downgrade in effect with the transition from patch 1.05 to 1.07. A horseback tour around Novigrad city remains largely stutter free on the latest update - as was the case before. However, charging through Crookback bog during heavy rainfall tells another story as we stress the engine to its fullest.
Essentially, gameplay on Xbox One now appears to rely on a similar double-buffer v-sync set-up to the PS4 game, locking its frame-rate to 20fps during these lulls in performance. This means that the reading on our graph is consistently lower on patch 1.07 as compared to 1.05, where it was free to waver between 20-30fps freely. On a matching route through the bog, frame-rate can be up to 8fps slower on the latest version of the game.
The two planned Witcher 3 expansions will, combined, "be like the length of The Witcher 2", game director Konrad Tomaszkiewicz told me when I visited the studio in May.
"Those expansions will be big," he said. "If you summarise these two expansions, probably the length of the two expansions will be like the length of The Witcher 2. Those are really big, with different locations, different characters, different stories, different items, cut-scenes, everything."
The first expansion, Heart of Stone, arrives October. It's around 10 hours in length. The second expansion, Blood & Wine, arrives first-quarter 2016, and is around 20 hours in length. "But from my experience," Tomaszkiewicz added, "it always grows. It's like in The Witcher 3: we plan the main story for 50 hours and the side activities for 50 hours. It should be 100 hours. And it's not. It's hard to plan actually because you're adding stuff - adding, adding, adding to fill the world."
The Witcher 3 has sold 4m copies in two weeks, maker CD Projekt Red has announced.
In an open letter, CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwinski wrote: "4 million RPG fans spending their hard-earned money on our game is a sign that we did something right, and you can be sure that we'll harness all that positive energy and make the upcoming expansions worthy of the grand adventure that you're telling us Wild Hunt already is!
"Until then, keep on enjoying Wild Hunt, do not forget to grab your weekly set of free DLCs, and stay tuned for constant updates and enhancement to the game we are continuously working on."
UPDATE 04/09/2015 5pm: The error regarding digital copies of The Witcher 3 on Xbox One has been fixed.
UPDATE 9TH JUNE: There's been a bumper update to the Sale, the headline addition being Telltale's excellent adventure games. The entire Walking Dead series - Season 1, Season 2, 400 Days - is only £10.67, and The Wolf Among Us is down to £4.79. The new Game of Thrones series is half-price at £11.49.
UPDATE 17/08/2015: The New Game Plus mode for Witcher 3 is rolling out now.
UPDATE 10TH JULY: Below are the fuller patch notes, as released on the game's forum (spotted by PCGamer).
The optional new movement style for Geralt apparently toggles between two types of responsiveness. Community manager Marcin Momot wrote on the forum that, "Some players have been reporting that Geralt's responsiveness was not up to their preferences so we are introducing a toggle to switch between two types of responsiveness. Once you play it, you'll be able to choose the one that fits you better." Hmm, curious.
Introduces an alternative movement style for Geralt. To enable, go to the Gameplay\Movement Response submenu.
Splatoon is the Wii U's fastest-selling new franchise to date in the UK, overtaking undead Ubisoft launch title ZombiU.
UPDATE June 1, 6:00pm: We've had some requests to test performance in The Witcher 3 in a number of stress points, including the swamps. We tested Crookback Bog and can confirm that there are still serious issues here, especially on PlayStation 4 - though Xbox One remains affected to a lesser degree. You'll find that video at the end of the article.
Original story: CD Projekt Red's latest patch 1.03 is a must if you haven't already downloaded it, with The Witcher 3's frame-rates tweaked for the better on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One over its day one state. Counting in at 500MB, a 30fps cap is crucially also added to Xbox One with this update, at last evening out its frame-pacing to give smoother results. We've seen miraculous improvements to games like Borderlands: The Handsome Collection thanks to patches late in the day, but is this the one to fix The Witcher 3's rockier stretches of performance?
A look at the patch's changelog
If you go down to Witcher 3's churchyard today, you're in for a spooky surprise.
The next Xbox One patch for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will target the game's frame-rate, developer CD Projekt Red has said.
A 30fps cap will be introduced via the patch, although it is unknown as yet if this will be optional.
Writing on Twitter, community coordinator Marcin Momot explained that the lock "should" be there in patch 1.03.
Open-world role-playing game The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has scored the biggest UK release of the year so far, smashing Battlefield Hardline's week one sell through by an impressive 53 per cent.
Launch week sales were up 608 per cent on its predecessor The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, which came out in 2011, although only for PC and then later on Xbox 360.
63 per cent of physical copies were sold on PlayStation 4, 32 per cent on Xbox One and five per cent on PC. Of course, the lion's share of PC sales will be digital (Chart-Track's data does not include download sales).
Mere weeks away from E3, developers and publishers are working flat-out behind the scenes to make this the show of their lives. There will be new game announcements, surprise reveals and eagerly anticipated re-reveals. In many cases, it'll be our first opportunity to see some of the biggest titles of this year and the next. Doubtless, we shall see some amazing software running on console and PC - but at the same time, we strongly suspect that there'll be a vast array of marketing materials that end up bearing little resemblance to final software, or at the very least misrepresent the quality of the featured game. Even with the very best intentions, it's a situation that can backfire badly, as CD Projekt Red has discovered over the last couple of weeks.
The Witcher 3 is a game of many firsts. Above all for CD Projekt Red, it has the distinction of launching on three platforms at once, pushing for PC, Xbox One and also its first Sony format - PlayStation 4. Also breaking new ground is a more open-world design than we've seen before in the series, widening the scope of Geralt's adventure as we enter a sprawling third act. We've had a cursory glance at how console versions hold up in performance terms, but factoring in a PC release with plenty of visual bonuses, how do the consoles compare?
Purely in visual terms, PS4 and Xbox One miss out on PC's ultra-grade settings in several areas, but the game still looks complete on each. At its core, REDengine 3 drives a high level of foliage detail on console - perhaps the greatest density of plant-life since the original Crysis, rendering trees in at a surprisingly long range. Factoring in time of day, weather systems and rolling clouds, The Witcher 3's physically-based lighting model also impresses, with shadows spread dynamically from each swaying branch, and light shafts flitting between each leaf. In the right light, the final result helps even the bleakest points in No Man's Land's marshes to achieve a great sense of atmosphere.
This isn't doable without a little help from outside tech. The Umbra 3 plugin in particular is crucial to performance, defining the parameters at which objects become visible, and culling detail intelligently (using a frustum) on PS4 and Xbox One to keep pop-in as discrete as possible. This works with SpeedTree, another middleware engine that handles foliage placement across the world, essentially randomising tuft positions to give the world its distinctive, flourishing look.
I can't really put into words the joy I felt while watching my colleagues discuss the merits of horse farming versus grain harvesting, so you'll just have to catch this week's Eurogamer Show to experience that particular delight for yourself.
In the wake of poor performance on Project Cars, AMD's GPU drivers are once again under scrutiny with the release of CD Projekt Red's The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The game runs in a sub-optimal state if Nvidia's HairWorks fur and hair rendering technology is active - and AMD isn't happy about it.
CD Projekt has released a patch for the PC version of The Witcher 3. It brings the open world role-playing game up to version 1.03.
The update focuses on improvement performance in cut-scenes and gameplay, as well as when Nvidia Hairworks is running, which some players have reported causes issues. Nvidia Hairworks lets users simulate and render fur and hair, adding thousands of dynamic hairs to characters and creatures.
Elsewhere, the patch adds additional graphics settings.
The Witcher 3 is a roaring success
in the critical sphere, and despite some rough technical points
it's one of the finest RPGs of this generation to date. However, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One each throw a curve-ball in their delivery of the game, particularly when it comes to the subject of performance. For those still mulling over which console version to go for, we can confirm both consoles offer world detail, shadows, lighting and alpha effects to a matching standard - but it's resolution and more importantly frame-rate that sets the two apart.
While open world role-playing game The Witcher 3 has been met with critical acclaim, including receiving an Essential award from Eurogamer, its launch has been marred by discussion of a graphical downgrade.
The Witcher 3 has been released in a new Game of the Year edition, which includes its two expansions, Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine. To mark the occasion, here's our review of this remarkable game, first published on 18th May 2015. Below you'll also find links to our reviews of the two expansions.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the game that Poland's iconoclastic CD Projekt Red has been threatening to make for a while now, ever since it debuted this dark fantasy series, based on the books by Andrzej Sapkowski, in 2007. Made by a rogue operator with independent funding (the studio's parent company owns the distribution platform GOG.com), it pays little heed to the franchise-building fads of Hollywood or the focus-tested game design methodologies of Montreal, instead drinking deep draughts from Central European folklore and the narrative traditions of Western role-playing. It exists because a group of people in Warsaw knew exactly the kind of game they wanted to play, and made it themselves because no-one else would. It is that rare thing in contemporary video games: an epic with a soul.
UPDATE 19/5/15 14:03: We've now had the opportunity to test the 1.01 patch on PlayStation 4, and can report that the FMV stuttering issue introduced in the Xbox One day one patch is much less of an issue on the Sony platform - video playback is much more consistent. Engine visual settings appear to be a match between the two consoles but curiously, the PS4 version does appear to run with a capped 30fps, giving a more consistent update than its Xbox One counterpart. We can also confirm native 1080p resolution throughout. We'll have head-to-head performance tests online as soon as possible.
Original Story: After a weekend of testing The Witcher 3 on Xbox One, it's fair to say installing its day one patch (version 1.01) is something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the 588MB file improves frame-rates slightly during play, while fixing minor bugs scattered across the game. In many ways it's a more polished experience with the patch - notably we have less geometry pop-in during cut-scenes, fewer instances of flickering shadows, and a great many more tweaks elsewhere.
But the downsides pack a punch too. It's apparent after switching between the game's default and patched states that these improvements come at a cost. Chief among these is the aggressive stuttering during pre-rendered cut-scenes. Essentially, encoded video files are used to portray the game's bigger plot points - such as the opening scene, re-caps after loading a save, and the dramatic end to the tutorial - while the game's engine is used for smaller beats in the story.
The Witcher games are synonymous with lavish CGI trailers and the newly released A Night to Remember Witcher 3 video tops the lot.
What it does better than any Witcher video before is give an idea of what you'll be playing, not lose itself in glitz and glamour and have no real bearing on the actual game.
You track down an enemy because you've been paid to, you drink a potion in preparation, and your medallion rumbles as danger is near.
Sony and Microsoft are both using next week's launch of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to stage their own battle for UK console supremacy.
Editor's note: This is an early impressions piece based on our first week with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. We'll bring you our full review by the time of the game's launch on 19th May. We're taking the extra time to explore this vast game to the full - and to test a final, retail version, as per our reviews policy.
The people behind upcoming open-world role-playing game The Witcher 3 have a trick up their sleeve when it comes to the resolution of the Xbox One version.
The Witcher 3 developer CD Projekt Red has spent the weekend taking down leaked gameplay footage from early copies of the role-playing game threequel.
This new Witcher 3 trailer - any one sense a launch coming up? - may as well be titled "The One That Reminds You How Gory The Game Is".
Oh do the heads roll. Takes a little while to get going, but then - schnk! - limbs, heads and even torsos start coming apart like Ikea joinery.
It's not just splatter-gore - there's a good look at some of the game's monsters, and even a bit of playable character Ciri in ferocious action at the end.
UPDATE 07/05/2015 8pm: Green Man Gaming has ended its Witcher 3 pre-order promotion, though it noted that it will "reinvigorate the offer in the run up to launch".
UPDATE 06/05/2015: Yesterday's live Witcher 3 gameplay session focused on combat and how different character builds approach it. It gave a real, in-depth look at the game's different sets of perks and how you can customise your Geralt hero to suit your style.
The game's difficulty was also demonstrated, the same monster encounter being played on the game's most difficult setting and then the game's easiest setting. Incidentally, I played the game on a normal difficulty setting earlier this year and it was challenging.
The Witcher 3 doesn't use the 'easy, medium, hard' naming convention, by the way, but opts for "Just the Story, Story and Sword, Blood and Broken Bones, and Death March" instead. Death March makes enemies tougher and hit harder, and it also stops you regenerating health while meditating, and scales down stat bonuses, meaning every slight edge you can get will count.
GOG Galaxy, the client that's a little bit like Steam, has entered open beta for all to try.
This is the optional, carefully-does-it next step for the download games store, bringing the community and their game collections together.
GOG Galaxy introduces multiplayer and matchmaking, social features like friends lists, plus stat tracking, achievements and all that stuff. There's cross-play with Steam as well, so you're not in an 'either or' situation.
Nvidia is bundling The Witcher 3 and Batman: Arkham Knight with its GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 graphics cards.
Microsoft has apologised for including PC gameplay footage of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in a Xbox One trailer.
Fans spotted the slip-up after watching the footage running at 1080p/60fps.
The Xbox One version of The Witcher 3 only outputs at 900p/30fps (the PlayStation 4 version outputs at 1080p/30fps).
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt developer CD Projekt Red has revealed nearly nine minutes of new footage from its upcoming medieval action-RPG series.
Charles Dance, best known recently for his fabulous turn as Lannister patriarch Tywin in Game of Thrones, will star in The Witcher 3 (due out in under a month).
A new Xbox One bundle has been revealed, this time paired with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
It's out next month, The Witcher 3, and this is as close to a launch trailer as we may get.
It's got everything - a tapestry of shots teasing every aspect of the game, and with a slightly patronising narrator. But hey, not everyone follows the game as closely as we do.
It also has a brilliantly foul-mouthed dwarf who invites you pleasantly for a drink then calls you "c**ksucker" by way of address. There's a vampire with a potty-mouth too.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt developer CD Projekt Red has revealed two major expansions to its upcoming fantasy RPG.
Entitled Hearts of Stone & Blood and Wine, these two add-ons should take players in the neighborhood of 30 hours to complete.
Hearts of Stone is pegged to be the shorter of the two expansions with a roughly 10-hour playtime. Set in the wilds of No Man's Land and Oxenfurt, series stalwart Geralt of Rivia will get roped into a contract with a mysterious figure called the Man of Glass. We suspect it won't be a crossover with Samuel L Jackson's character from Unbreakable.
Want to see how The Witcher 3's opening quarter hour begins? Well you're in luck, as that's a thing that exists today on the internet. And on this very page, too!
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt could take completionists over 200 hours to wrap up, according to senior game designer Damien Monnier.
German magazine Gamestar recently published an article about upcoming fantasy role-playing game Witcher 3, and it revealed a raft of new information.
CD Projekt revealed an all-new, extended look at The Witcher 3 in action as they presented a panel at this year's PAX East.
New Witcher 3 gameplay footage was shown at GDC, demonstrating, it seems, on Nvidia's streaming tech, Grid.
Charismatic CD Projekt Red gameplay designer Damien Monnier can be heard narrating the demo, which shows Geralt in a forested area as the sun rises.
The appealing scene gets an applause before Monnier announces, "It's not even on the highest setting. We're saving this for when you buy the game - we want you to get a bit of a slap across the face." The rascal.
With Bertie and myself both having played The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt at a recent preview, we thought it might be fun to sit down and share our (surprisingly different) stories of adventure and optional side quests. Join us as we discuss the level of detail on display outside of the main storyline itself and whether CD Projekt RED will need to sacrifice detail just to fill their gigantic world.
It's always been about how well The Witcher 3 occupies an open world that really mattered. That's the big differentiator, where the game will achieve greatness or become, simply, nice. We know from The Witcher 2 developer CD Projekt Red can serve up delicious chunks of game across several acts. But when the walls come down and everything, whoosh, spreads out - what happens then?
CD Projekt Red has revealed the PC system requirements for The Witcher 3, due for release 19th May.
Yesterday's announcement of a further delay to The Witcher 3 - to 19th May 2015 - cited "many details that need to be corrected" and rued how "we set the release date too hastily". It came from the Board of CD Projekt.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt developer CD Projekt Red has announced a further delay to the game, and a new release date of 19th May 2015.
UPDATE 15/12/2014 8.51pm: The Witcher 3's second playable character has been revealed to be Ciri, a silver-haired woman described as "a powerful, living weapon capable of both healing and destroying the world she inhabits".
For one man, The Witcher 2 went beyond being simply an enjoyable experience. For Nick, it was therapeutic.
Everyone who buys The Witcher 3 will receive all 16 planned pieces of downloadable content (DLC) for free, developer CD Projekt Red has announced.
That's buying any edition from any shop on any platform and at any point in time. No small print: buy the game and that's it.
In an open letter, CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwiński lambasted the current state of affairs, where DLC acts either as carrot dangling in front of certain shops, or as supplementary revenue-booster at launch.
Well, I've never seen a crow do that.
Finishing everything - literally completing - Dragon Age: Inquisition will take between 150 to 200 hours, BioWare reckons. The main story, however, will take 20 to 40.
Two important questions for a Friday: is Geralt too handsome in The Witcher 3 - a genuine concern - and what more can we do while sailing in the game?
Gamer Network, which also publishes this website, has announced that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is being demoed live next month at EGX.
Digital distributor GOG.com is trying to convince Hollywood to let it sell TV shows and movies DRM-free.
Developer CD Projekt has released a 35 minute gameplay video of open world role-playing game The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
The video, below, picks up the action after the griffin hunt sequence shown during Microsoft's E3 press conference in June. It is the same gameplay shown to press behind closed doors at E3 and again at Gamescom last week. There's developer commentary, too.
We see series star Geralt, on horseback, visit the city of Novigrad. The player would be several hours into the game. We won't spoil what happens.
UPDATE: CD Projekt has issued Eurogamer a statement on the reaction to its announcement of Xbox One-exclusive physical items for the Collector's Edition of fantasy role-playing game The Witcher 3.
Ranking among the cream of the crop of PC developers working today, CD Projekt RED has shown a no-compromise approach to every project it's set its mind to. Case in point: the sublime Xbox 360 edition of The Witcher 2 didn't simply cut back the original PC code, but instead had code rewritten from scratch to push the console aesthetic in a new, arguably improved direction. But with The Witcher 3 being developed on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, can we once again expect an off-shoot of the PC experience, or something closer to parity? And indeed, how is the team looking to get the most out of PC development?
The video game version of The Witcher Adventure Game (board game) has entered closed beta and invites have been sent out.
Those invites are few and are reserved for people who pre-ordered the The Witcher 3 role-playing game from CD Projekt's shop GOG. Those who pre-ordered the game earliest will be invited in, and invites will be sent in small batches over the weekend, CDPR told me. More will be sent out on Monday.
Also involved in the testing phase will be GOG Galaxy, the new GOG client that connects gamers to each other and handles various multiplayer and social elements. It's a bit like Steam.
When CD Projekt executive producer John Mamais told Eurogamer at E3 that The Witcher 3 would feature more realistic fur when played on PC with ultra settings enabled, he wasn't kidding.
Dozens of internal design documents for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt have been posted online, revealing key details about the game's story, missions, enemies and ending.
The files were reportedly stolen from a CD Projekt Red employee whose Google Drive was hacked into, then posted to 4chan and Reddit.
CD Projekt Red has confirmed the leak to Eurogamer and advised fans against accessing the files due to their spoiler-ridden content.
Some who caught The Witcher 3's gameplay demo during Microsoft's E3 press conference were a bit worried by what they saw.
During the five minute demo, set about 10 hours into the game, series star Geralt is off on a griffin hunt in the No Man's Land wilderness. He prepares for combat, in classic Witcher fashion, by equipping a set of buffing potions and a small crossbow.
It's not long before Geralt comes up against a number of bandits, and easily dispatches them with a combination of magic attacks and devastating sword strikes. Geralt eventually tracks the griffin down, and takes just a few attacks to kill his quarry.
The Witcher 3 is out today, and so we've hauled another exciting Witcher-related article out of the Eurogamer archive for you to read again or enjoy for the first time if you missed it. Here, Robert Purchese reveals the story of the Witcher game that never was in an article first published in June 2014.
CD Projekt Red took to the Microsoft E3 stage to show brand new gameplay of The Witcher 3.
It showed Geralt using his monster hunting abilities to track and eventually kill a griffin.
You'll note, as he traverses the forest terrain, how he can jump freely and leap onto ledges!
Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is due on 24th February for Xbox One, PS4 and PC, CD Projekt Red has announced at its summer press conference.
Studio co-founder Markin Iwinski noted that all standard editions come with a game map, a Witcher Universe Compendium, the soundtrack, stickers and a game manual.
The limited pre-order-only Collector's Edition also comes with a figurine of Geralt slaying a griffin, a 200-page art book, steel case, and a steel wolf medallion.
UPDATE 14:05 BST: The Witcher 3 standard edition includes a raft of extras.
Last year Microsoft featured The Witcher 3 on the biggest gaming stage: a platform-holder E3 conference at a time when both big new consoles were unreleased. There couldn't have been a clearer statement that this game was a big deal.
E3 2014 is nearly upon us now, and there's talk that CD Projekt Red - and The Witcher 3 - will be on stage again. "Hopefully," said company co-founder Marcin Iwinski, talking to me in Poland recently.
But whose stage, and why?
Polish developer CD Projekt Red has promised "no more delays" for massive role-playing game The Witcher 3.
At Polish conference Digital Dragons last week I broached, with CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwinski, the delicate matter of whether The Witcher 3 will run better on PS4 than on Xbox One.
UPDATE 1PM GMT: CD Projekt Red has responded.
The mobile game has been in development for a year by a standalone team, I was told, and an official announcement is going to happen "very soon". It will coincide with the launch of a beta test.
"Smartphones and tablets are truly powerful platforms these days and are finally giving us the ability to develop mobile games we would like to play ourselves; games that are taking full advantage of newest smartphone and tablet technologies, and offer the quality level that we, as a studio, are always aiming to achieve," co-founder Adam Kiciński added.
GOG has ditched its controversial regional pricing plan and apologised to its users.
CD Projekt has delayed PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One fantasy role-playing game The Witcher 3 to February 2015. It had been due out later this year.
Two key members of The Witcher 3 team officially departed CD Projekt Red last week: lead gameplay designer Maciej Szcześnik and gameplay producer Marek Ziemak.
CD Projekt Red has unleashed three scrumptious new screenshots of The Witcher 3.
We've had our say already, and typically we were probably well wide of the mark, so it's now your turn to let us know what games you're looking forward to over the next 12 months. Thanks to all who voted (but no thanks to whoever suggested Pong, and to the handful of people who put forward Half-Life 3, well... I'm sorry). The top 10 are presented in reverse order below - and it was incredibly tight out at the front, with the top result beating out the runner-up by only a couple of votes. We've also included some of your comments, although since the submission form was anonymous we can't say exactly who made which point. Sorry about that - if you feel particularly proprietorial about one of your insights that we've highlighted, tell the world in the comments. Onward!
Popular fantasy series The Witcher is getting its very own board game later this year.
2014 is upon us, and it promises riches and glory unlike any year before it. With their launches under their belts, the next generation of consoles will, hopefully, show us what they're made of. Virtual reality headsets may make their mark on the mainstream. And with a raft of crowdfunded games due out over the next 12 months, 2014 should tell us whether all that money we pumped into promising projects on Kickstarter was worth it.
UPDATE: CD Projekt Red has released the stunning The Witcher 3 trailer unveiled at VGX, this time in glorious full high definition.
I flew to Poland to visit CD Projekt Red, home of The Witcher, recently. I've told the studio's story but that wasn't all I found out. I interviewed at least half-a-dozen people, all from different areas of The Witcher 3 team, about the new game they are making. Here's a rather large dump of all the stuff I found out.
The Witcher 3 comes out on Tuesday, 19th May, and so we've hauled an exciting Witcher-related article out of the Eurogamer archive for you to read again or enjoy for the first time if you missed it. Here, Robert Purchese reveals the story of Witcher developer CD Projekt in an article first published in November 2013.
The Witcher developer CD Projekt Red has made it abundantly clear there will be no DRM associated with The Witcher 3 on PC, if bought in a box or from game-download shop GOG.com (Steam is its own kind of DRM, and The Witcher 3 will definitely be on Steam).
Polish studio CD Projekt Red has announced 6 million combined The Witcher sales on this, the series' sixth birthday.
In that relatively short period of time Red has gone from being a nobody into an internationally renowned somebody, crafting a next-generation RPG prestigious enough for Microsoft to feature during its important E3 Xbox One presentation this year.
To mark the occasion I travelled to Poland to see the studio with my own eyes and meet the people responsible for it. That story, CD Projekt's story, will be told in an article coming soon.
The Witcher 3 developer CD Projekt RED is cooking up a surprise with famed comic book company Dark Horse. What is it? We'll have to wait for Friday, apparently, when the developer plans to "unveil something truly special for fans of the fantasy genre" at the New York Comic Con.
Polish studio CD Projekt Red has everything going for it as it builds to a Witcher 3 crescendo in 2014. But there are concerns - concerns about it being open world and perhaps flabbier and more unfocused as a result.
"They're rock stars and they know it. They don't come to us. We go to them," I wrote about CD Projekt after seeing their stunning press demo of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt at E3 earlier this year. The Polish developer is justifiably confident in its massive, open-world RPG for PC and next-gen consoles - so much so, in fact, that it took the exact same demo to Gamescom in Germany last month.
That was a bit of a disappointment, and we still can't show you the game in action beyond its trailer. All the same, Ian took the time to see the demo and was suitably wowed. Afterwards, he sat down (or, more likely, stood sweating in a cramped corner) with writer Jakub Szamalek for an interview, which you can watch below.
Although CD Projekt didn't bring anything new to Gamescom and are still being coy about showing the game to the public, they've actually revealed quite a lot about this hugely promising RPG, so there's plenty for Ian and Jakub to dig into. In particular, there's some tasty stuff here on the game's monster hunting aspect, which is what has me most excited about Wild Hunt. Enjoy!
Xbox One has a mammoth 23 games confirmed for release on day one in November, more than many expected - but there's a distinct lack of role-playing games available to play.
Veteran actor Charles Dance - best known as Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones - will be joining the cast of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, developer CDProjekt Red has announced.
CD Projekt Red has produced a brutal new cinematic for The Witcher 3 to highlight the morally ambiguous tone of the game, and series.
CD Projekt Red didn't have a presence on the E3 2013 show floor, but it didn't matter a jot. The Polish developers stand alone and do things their own way, financed by their parent, a local distributor, and their subsidiary, the digital games platform GOG.com. They've made an international success out of games based on Polish culture - the Witcher series of dark fantasy novels by Andrzej Sapkowski - and developed in Warsaw. They'll choose a publisher for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt when - or if - it's convenient to them. They certainly didn't need anyone's help getting their next-generation, open-world role-player into Microsoft's Xbox One showreel, or attracting journalists and executives to the small, buzzing suite upstairs at the LA Convention Center where they were happy to serve beers (Tyskie, naturally) at 10am.
The bombastic E3 show floor was packed with open-world games.
Witcher developer CD Projekt Red will open a new studio in Poland in the historic city of Kraków next month, where it will make one of two new smaller games approximately 20-hours in length.
Behold the serrated bread-knife sword.
Bearded beauty Geralt and his serrated bread-knife sword have appeared in a batch of new Witcher 3 screenshots, fresh out of E3 (via AllGamesBeta).
More good news: Xbox One won't be supported, among other places, in Poland and Portugal when the console launches this November.
Worse, it looks like you won't be able to import an Xbox One if you live there because you won't be able to activate games with an Xbox Live account registered in an unsupported region.
The list of 21 countries Xbox One supports at launch - part of a disclaimer article - prompted concerned Xbox One fans living in the omitted countries to question Xbox Support on Twitter. NeoGAF compiled the reports.
Update: Temperatures are running hot and CD Projekt Red clearly isn't pleased with the guilty-by-association connotations of The Witcher 3 being on current public enemy number Xbox One. But what can it do? CDP co-founder and Joint CEO Marcin Iwiński has attempted to explain the company's position again.
CD Projekt Red has confirmed The Witcher 3 for Xbox One on stage at Microsoft's E3 conference today. It's also a PC and PS4 game.
The Xbox One version will have optional Kinect voice commands for quick-switching during combat and casting spells.
The UI will also be ported for SmartGlass purposes such as inventory and character management.
CD Projekt Red has decided against having multiplayer in The Witcher 3, explaining to me that it has "no place" in a "strongly story-driven game".
The open world RPG yardstick is Skyrim. That's the game, the series, the success that The Witcher 3 has in its sights. And to listen to CD Projekt Red, you'd believe the Polish studio could better it.
With no magazine watermarks, cough.
There will be no quick-time events (QTEs) in The Witcher 3!
CD Projekt Red has confirmed The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for PlayStation 4 in 2014.
The Polish developer said the open world role-playing game will launch simultaneously on all high end consoles, guaranteeing release on the next Xbox.
"We were thrilled when asked, several months ago, to be one of the developers who were granted early access to the PlayStation 4," said studio boss Adam Badowski.
Can you name five Skyrim characters from memory?
UPDATE: On closer inspection the quote below comes from the CDProjektRED_EN Twitter account, a translation account for the official CDProjektRED_IR Twitter feed. We've checked with CDProjekt and the company does not own this, meaning the remarks below do not come from an official source.
Update: This is a bit more believable. Turns out that when CDPR studio head Adam Badowski said The Witcher 3 would be the last Witcher game, what he really meant was it would be the last game of this trilogy.
I wand this.
CD Projekt Red has finally formally announced The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
It's due 2014 on PC and "all high-end platforms available", according to GameInformer. We've known for a long time that The Witcher 3 will be a next-gen game. The only question is, will it be on both the next Xbox and PlayStation 4?
The biggest change in design for The Witcher 3 is its shift to being open world like an Elder Scrolls game. Where you go and when you go is up to you. There won't be chapters or acts, and hero Geralt will apparently answer only to himself.
CD Projekt Red wrote a secret message about an impending Witcher 3 announcement in a brand new and very sexy Cyberpunk 2077 CGI video.