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Here's your first look at The Witcher 3's long-awaited next-gen update

Photo mode! Fancier cobbles! More!

CD Projekt's long-promised next-gen update for The Witcher 3 is almost upon us, and ahead of its PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC arrival on 14th December, the studio has shared a first look at the various enhancements it'll bring.

As far as technical improvements go, CD Projekt positively whistled through them during its first-look livestream, but PC players can expect to see support for the likes of raytracing, DLSS, and FSR, alongside a selection of new Ultra Plus graphics options, boosting background characters, level of detail, and more.

Indeed, there are visual touch-ups across the board, including a rework for grass and foliage, enhanced and more varied weather conditions, plus higher resolution textures and meshes throughout environments. Novigrad's cobblestones are no longer normal maps, for instance, and instead now fully 3D. Keen-eyed players will also see the likes of smoke drifting from chimneys in distant villages.

Cover image for YouTube videoThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Complete Edition | Next-Gen Update Trailer
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Next-Gen Update Trailer

Console players will, of course, also get to take advantage of CD Projekt's various improvements, with new Performance and Quality modes providing a choice between better visuals at 30fps or a prioritised 60fps. Expect full console specifics in the run-up to release.

The Witcher 3's next-gen update incorporates more than just visual enhancements, however, and CD Projekt has also taken the opportunity to introduce a number of new features and quality of life improvements. There's a new Photo Mode, for instance, giving players control over the likes of FOV, tilt, depth of field, aperture, focus distances, exposure, and contrast for more beatific snaps. Additionally, there's an optional new in-game camera, bringing the viewpoint much closer to the action while on-foot, on horseback, or both.

There are also new map filters - enabling explorers to hide the likes of question-mark icons - and the mini-map can be hidden specifically during exploration too. Using this latter option, the mini-map can be temporarily restore at the press of a button, and it'll auto-appear in combat.

Cover image for YouTube videoREDstreams | The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Next-Gen Update Overview
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Next-Gen Update Overview.

Elsewhere, there are improvements to controls - by holding down a button in combat it's possible to instantly trigger a Sign of your choice without having to bring up the radial map - and there's a new tap to sprint option for Geralt. And still in the realm of controls, PS5 players will get DualSense haptic feedback support.

Other notable additions include a range of accessibility improvements - such as larger HUD and subtitle options - plus enhanced language support including Chinese dubbing and subtitles. There are also numerous polishing tweaks, including a new pause option for cutscenes, plus fixes for the likes of cutscenes stuttering and previously broken quest lines - with CD Projekt saying the patch should retroactively fix broken quests on saves. Finally, there's cross-progression and cross-save support across PC, Xbox, and Playstation.

CD Projekt has previously said PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch owners will be able to enjoy "numerous additions and improvements" as part of a patch accompanying the next-gen update on other consoles, but exactly how much (if any) of the above will be making the jump to last-gen machines is unclear.

We do know, however, that all platforms will be getting a small slice of DLC themed around Netflix's The Witcher TV series. These will include new armour and weapon options for Geralt, plus a new outfit for Jaskier, based on those seen in the show - and there's even a bit of a new quest tied to their acquisition, with Doug Cockle making a return in the lead role.

The Witcher 3's free next-gen update and its last-gen counterpart arrive on 14th December.