While tweaking its long-awaited Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt RED has released one of its flagship titles on Nintendo Switch (a port made by Saber Studios), The Witcher 3, initially released on May 19, 2015 on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The Wild Hunt Complete Edition is a special version which, as the name suggests, contains the base game and all the additional content released in the years that followed: the two story expansions (Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine) and the 16 DLCs. For the record, the development of The Witcher 3 began in 2012, at the same time as that of Cyberpunk 2077, the studio having then split into two different teams. When we see what gives The Witcher 3 already four years old, it makes the wait for the futuristic role-playing game even more untenable!
A little trailer to get into the special atmosphere of the Witcher world:
The choice is given at the launch of the game to either explore the content of one of the two expansions, or not to limit yourself and start at the beginning of the story. For my part, I opted for this last option, unfortunately not having had the opportunity to discover the title at launch and counting on taking advantage of this release to catch up with me. I also took a trivial difficulty, "Entering the story", wanting above all to discover the story, and not to walk towards death (no, I'm not a berserk).
Inspired by novels written by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher 3 offers an unprecedented narrative, set in a medieval-fantasy world in an open world. In a third-person view, we take on the role of Geralt of Rivia, a warrior using Magic (= witcher), which makes him hateful in the eyes of the majority of the population. For money, he rids people of the creatures that roam the countryside, never staying long in villages where he is not welcome despite the services rendered. I didn't play the first two games, but at no point did I feel lost in the story. Everything is brought about in a natural way, making it possible to understand the ins and outs, and to quickly make friends with the protagonists. According to the press release, the title features a branched frame with 36 endings available, just that! I'm still a long way from it, but the quests are indeed very numerous, easily indicated by a yellow exclamation mark on the minimap at the top right of the screen.
There are many problems in this warring world, and Geralt has a lot to do with his sword clear. At the start, a brief tutorial places you in a safe environment to practice stabbing combat. But Geralt is no newbie, and the story does not invent any fucked up reason for any regression. Despite his level 1, Geralt is a recognized master swordsman and this passage places him in the position of a professor showing arms passes to a young apprentice. As you explore the world and complete quests, Geralt earns skill points with each level you climb, as well as equipment. We fall back on this aspect in the habits of the genre.
Geralt is armed with two swords, one of steel to attack humans, one of silver to take down evil creatures. The passage from one to the other is done with the cross, and is very practical. This same cross is used to activate consumables (food, water, etc.), even if the use is in this case less obvious: an activation loops between the objects, while a double-activation uses it (which leads to double consumption every other time).
The spells are in the form of runes, to be selected with L:
- Yrden: deploy a magic trap
- Quen: creates a protective shield
- Igni: inflicts fire damage
- Axii: influences the minds of opponents
- Aard: causes a telekinetic breath.
Once the rune is selected with the left stick, it triggers at will (within the limit of endurance) with ZR. I regret for this interface the fact that the screen is not touch-sensitive. I always find the diagonal selection quite difficult with the joystick of a controller, it would be a real plus to be able to select the desired spell with your finger. On its own, the game itself doesn't require touch, but it would improve menu viewing. I regret that too often publishers are content to port the version of other consoles to the Switch, without integrating the specificities of that of Nintendo.
Even on the console in portable mode, the graphics are decent, with sunsets that made me regret the lack of a photo mode. So yes, of course, it is less pretty than with other consoles, the Nintendo Switch is not as powerful either. But it is very fluid, I did not feel any slowdowns, for a constant display at 30 fps. The atmosphere is there. Classical and epic music is also perfectly consistent with the medieval-fantasy world. The dialogues are fully translated, in audio and in subtitles, which does not spoil the pleasure.
The Witcher 3 is also a lot of little tricks that regularly show that the developers haven't used easy shortcuts. Geralt can climb when he's in even relatively high ditches (as long as it's not much higher than him), not forcing ridiculous shortcuts in a realistic minimal open world. An inaccessible torch? An Igni rune (which deals fire damage) and that's it, it lights up. For one of my quests, I had to find the personal item of a murdered woman in order to burn her ties to the living world. But I had already explored the surroundings before finding the body, and I already had this bracelet in my bags. In addition to the fact that this item was pickable before it was useful, the cutscene went straight from "I have to find what ties this woman to this world" to "I am going to destroy this bracelet". Too many games force you to follow an imposed pattern, an object having to be usable only once in the right quest, or even requiring you to go back because at that time, we did not have the quest.
Despite the excellent quality of this port, if you have a PC, an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4, I advise you to fall back on these supports. You will be able to find the games at a better price, while enjoying much better graphics. But if you only have a Nintendo Switch, or if you just want to play on the go, then go for it, you won't regret it.
Nintendo Store - € 59,99