Though beauty may only be found in the eye of the beholder, these modders thought otherwise by making The Witcher 3 on the Switch look as well as it had on consoles. As can be expected, the game initially launched with iffy graphics. Muddy textures, less than 60fps, and blurry surroundings made one of the most beautiful games in the industry look pretty last-gen.
As GamesRadar states in their review, giving it 3.5 stars:
"Environment textures, foliage, clothes and unimportant furniture have been shunted back a generation or two to make this port work, and the results can make for a muddy, illegible experience, especially in a busy hamlet or market."
Cheekily coined 'Switcher' by the internet, the new port has been heralded for its ingenuity and guile, yet does suffer from frame rate drops and no unique content. Realistically, the downgraded resolution only looks bad when the Switch is docked. Settings can be changed without having to hack the Switch, yet will often dip in more populated areas and may make fighting a bit more cumbersome. While some were hoping The Witcher 3 would support motion controls, the final product seems to have ignored other bells and whistles most Switch games utilize for the sake of saving space. There's so much already piled into the game, it's hard to believe the game fits at all on the beloved Nintendo handheld.
Cramming Velen, Kaer Morhen, Skellige, White Orchard, and both DLC Blood and Wine and Hearts of Stone all into one game on the Switch is truly a feat worth recognizing by the folks at Saber Interactive. Pixelacos, on the other hand, took Saber's finished product a step further by hacking the Switch firmware, activating 'Sharpening,' and turning off anti-aliasing. In the end, they discovered a far more vibrant The Witcher 3 experience, yet at the cost of a hacked Switch. The mod, which can be found on GBATemp, has additional settings, such as toggling bloom, depth of field, light shafts, and more.
Evidenced by the fact that these various settings can be found straight from The Witcher 3 menu, albeit necessitating a hacked Switch and the mod itself, there is still hope that CD Projekt Red and Saber Interactive could patch the game if enough players request it. Even without said performance and resolution enhancements, the game still runs superbly well on a handheld. It can be played through and through without any crashes or freezing, which says a lot, despite the expected issues with graphics.
Some may wonder, "Why even bother playing it on the Switch with such low graphics if one already owns it on console or PC?" Answer: to watch Netflix's new The Witcher series while playing The Witcher 3 on the handheld. If Henry Cavill himself lived and breathed The Witcher universe for his role, it's only fair fans payback in kind by likewise delving into the world while enjoying the new show.
Slaying monsters, fist-fighting with drunken humans and parading around the Northern Kingdoms of the Continent is still as mesmerizing as ever. But with a bit of polish, The Witcher 3 on the Switch is truly a landmark in the industry.