The Witcher 3: Did CD Projekt Red do full justice to the PC version?

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).

witchergif1 witchergif2 witchergif3 witchergif4 witchergif5 witchergif6

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:

witcher1

Final PS4 build:

witcher2

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.

  • The problem is not the game quality, is they lied. So they are not the best devs anymore, they are the same as others that make good games, like bethesda or rockstar. Is sad, true gamers had hopes on them and they used that to sell 1 game.

  • Matt Vaughn

    Looks like I won’t be getting this on principle. It looks fun and all, but I’m beyond fucking tired of final products being subpar when compared to earlier footage meant to generate hype. It’s literally false advertising, and it’s going to cost them my business. This is becoming the industry norm, and I’m not going to go along with it by throwing my cash at them.

  • Shinobi

    To be honest I’m not seeing the big difference. I even think in that 5th comparison the brick building looks a lot better in the new version. I always disliked the way that building looked in the 35min demo.

  • timmy112

    Fucking consoles, ruining another game…

  • SpookyBoogie

    Those gifs are heartbreaking; knowing that we could’ve actually played a game that looked that good.

    • GotNews4Ya

      Apparently we can’t play a game that looks that good with the depth and length of this.. They didn’t just get rid of the better visuals because they wanted too.. I think there is much more too it.. a Developer like this.. just doesn’t do things this way.. It is completely out of character for them.. and in the end.. I am not going to be disappointed either way.. I’m playing on the PS4, and it still looks pretty damn wonderful on it to me.. and The Story.. Oh my.. the story.. I just simply cannot wait to play it. 🙂

      • SpookyBoogie

        I can’t wait as well…3 more days

  • Fred hgggg

    liars. CDPR let us down and joined the ranks of every other thieving console dev

  • KontryBoy706

    I’m more worried about performance than everything else

    • Noble Alfred

      Don’t worry, given their track record it will 100% run like shit.

  • batminseok

    hopefully nothing the right sweetfx preset wont sort out….

    • Yeah…you’re right because SweetFX can bring back all of that butchered foliage /sarcasm

      • Brian Brah

        The foliage is already dense.

        • Hooligan1976

          Yes almost as dense as you.

          The foliage complaint is not about how much it is but how bad it looks. Did you even look at the comparisons above?

          • Brian Brah

            The foliage looks good the plants and trees sway in the wind looks great in motion.

          • Shinobi

            Yes, it’s darker green. Big deal. Some of you are blowing this way out of proportion.

      • Shinobi

        I see no butchered foliage, I just see different colored foliage. I dont know why they changed the color but they did.

    • Amith Thomas

      Did you see the grass lol

      Don’t know what CDPR were thinking, but now it looks plain ugly. I mean they had good looking grass in 35 minute demo. Why did they go and ruin it ?

      • Over

        Because they didn’t want to spend money and time doing separate graphics for PC, when most sales will be on console and PCs that wouldn’t be able to run at that high quality anyway.

        Oh well, if we didn’t know about the downgrade, we would be happy with the graphics now. But knowing it could have been much better and have that taken away…

        • Jolly

          even though statistics show that games have a much longer shelf life and sell more on PC?

          • Over

            I’m talking about profit. PC games are much cheaper and go on sale much faster than console games/versions, so console games are more profitable. Usually. I’m not saying PC sales are negletible. And then there’s the problem about most PC gamers don’t have the PCs to push graphics like the ones in that 2013 trailer.

          • zeroVitality

            They go cheaper because the publisher gets a much higher margin of the sale compared to a typical console game where sony/MS also get a fair share of the profit.

          • Over

            STEAM also gets a fair share of the profit. And on GOG, it’s cheaper, so probably they get about the same as from STEAM.