The Witcher 3 is days away from release, and as its launch gets nearer, we’re starting to see plenty of gameplay footage from the console and PC versions spread across the internet. What’s nice is that the console footage looks great. However, what’s equally surprising is that the PC version doesn’t appear to boast a substantial boost in assets quality and detail over its console brethren.
First, a little history: CD Projekt Red is widely regarded as a PC developer first and foremost that does full justice to the platform and caters to its strengths. The developer has acknowledged as much in an interview with Gamesindustry.
“Usually the weakest platform dictates the quality for all platforms, but high-quality visuals are our trademark, so we need to approach each platform as individually as possible,” Badowski says.
The developer is known for its no-compromise approach to game development, with future-oriented graphical features in The Witcher 2 that PC gamers have enjoyed in the years ahead with the availability of beefier graphics hardware. It’s natural, then, to consider the PC platform as CD Projekt Red’s priority when developing a multiplatform game.
In a rather odd turn of events, we’ve conducted a screenshot comparison between both PS4 and PC versions using like-for-like instances, and the results are quite identical. What’s worse is that neither version features the detail and high-quality assets found in the game’s earlier trailers.
The term “downgrade” has commonly been associated with a lot of games this generation, and the Witcher 3 appears to be next in line based on a very accurate comparison by Neogaf member MaLDo, who uses GIF images to demonstrate the stark difference in geometry between footage from early trailers and footage from the final build. Needless to say, there’s far more detail present in the environments from earlier trailers (note: we left the images unmarked, as the difference is painfully obvious).
Another comparison from one of our own staff members demonstrates the difference in geometry and detail between an official screenshot from the game’s December 2014 build (presumably PC) and the final PS4 build.
Dec 2014 build:
Final PS4 build:
It wouldn’t be unreasonable to believe that missing geometry could’ve easily been done on the PC version, given the ever-increasing gulf in raw power between the PC and consoles. The question, then, is why did the PC version have to get watered down? Is this the unfortunate case of platform parity? Or is it simply because CD Projekt Red lacked the budget and were time constrained, and as a result were unable to consistently produce the texture quality represented in early trailers?
Perhaps the PC user base with access to high-end hardware capable of taking advantage of the additional detail was deemed relatively small, and hence the developer make a conscious (and practical) decision to not target higher quality visuals on the platform.
Be that it may, it’s still disappointing to see the PC wasn’t pushed by a developer known to have done so in the past. Let us know whether you agree or disagree in the comments below.