The moment Nintendo announced The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on the Switch (Switcher anyone?), we were sceptical. A handheld Witcher game would need to make a crazy amount of compromise, especially considering that the 2015 bestseller on ultra would tax most high-end gaming rigs. But somehow, developer CD Projekt Red and Saber Interactive not only managed to pack all the content on the Switch, but have managed to do so in a very impressive way.
The Witcher 3 – for the Switch includes the base game as well as all the DLC that was released, making for hundreds of hours of playtime. The Witcher 3 takes place across several large open areas, with the largest of them having enough content to last you long commutes. While there is an overarching narrative, The Witcher is all about those small stories you come across on the way. There are some quests that are large and detailed enough to be a whole game in itself. All of the padding and bloat that constitute most games is engrossing and engaging in The Witcher, especially since there’s loot or romance at the end of that.
CD Projekt Red has created a world you can truly lose yourself in. If you’re not solving quests, you will find yourself sitting on an embankment watching the wind rustling through plants. Those who have spent time in the PC and console versions may have noticed the thin blurry foliage – which thankfully remains absent from the Switch’s smaller screen. Just do not – under any circumstance, dock the Switch and play it on your TV.
As with all Witcher games, the action is intense, and this translates perfectly on the Switch. Geralt’s deadly dance of steel and silver is perfect for those boring journeys. Perhaps the only downside is that in the heat of battle the distance between the attack and dodge buttons – and the right thumbstick is a lot, so switching targets is a challenge. In these cases, your best bet would be to concentrate on dodging and slashing – and then target your foes once you have a bit of breathing room. And through all of this, the framerate – as well as animations remain smooth.
Graphics are something we were all worried about, and thankfully, the game looks way better than the initial trailers. Everything does not look as scrubby and flat, and the smaller screen of the Switch seems to have offset any of the texture blurring. The best part is that the essence of The Witcher has been perfectly distilled into this pint sized port. The game is one big perfect package, and if there had to be a downside to pick, it would be the fact that it is a battery hog, and doesn’t ship with a cross-save ability.
The first one can be dealt with a decent battery pack, but the lack of cross-save is a major bummer – especially after being spoiled by Divinity: Original Sin 2. Though when you see the sheer size, scope and awe of what has been achieved in porting The Witcher 3, these are mere blips on the horizon.
If you’ve never played The Witcher 3 – and own a Switch, this is the perfect time to go play this gem. The Switch version gives you the versatility to play this anywhere, where previously you had to be chained to your PC or Console HDTV. And while the Switch version may not look as good as the PC version, and the frame rates may dip occasionally, this is a small price to pay to be able to take one of the greatest RPG’s of this decade along with you on the go.