Digital Foundry – The Witcher 3 at all feasible?

Digital Foundry – The Witcher 3 at all feasible?

Rumors of a Witcher 3 port on Nintendo Switch have been quite rampant the past few days and, with that, Digital Foundry has taken up the challenge to see if it at all feasible.

While Nintendo Switch has continued to deliver a range of games that has somehow managed to defy the odds such as Doom 2016, Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, Mortal Kombat 11, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, could the same be said of a Witcher 3 port?

Digital Foundry’s Richard Leadbetter walks us through an analysis which stemmed from using a stripped PC hardware to the bare minimum to closely resemble the Switch’s performance.

Digital Foundry analysis write up

First of all, the main positive to draw from this is that when presented with ultra constrained hardware, The Witcher 3 could still run – something that doesn’t apply to all PC titles I’ve tried to boot on this system. Secondly, while 576p on low settings (with some further foliage and shadow tweaks in the .ini) isn’t exactly a visual showcase, it is still recognisably The Witcher 3.

Both of these things do suggest that the game is inherently scalable enough to get something worthwhile running on the Nintendo hybrid – especially when far more tweakables are available to the developer under the hood of the RED engine.

But there’s also the sense that a lot of work would be needed to stabilise performance to a consistent level. The Witcher 3’s lush foliage and alpha-heavy areas like Crookback Bog push bandwidth hard – a commodity that’s in extremely short supply on Switch – while the CPU burden in places like Novigrad (even on the lowest settings) is considerable.

And how would a prospective port handle the graphics burden bearing in mind Switch’s limited compute power? Well, in this respect, a template has been established: dynamic resolution scaling (already present on Xbox One) in combination with temporal super-sampling has been a constant factor in getting these ‘impossible’ Switch ports playable at acceptable frame-rates.

It’s a massive challenge then but we can’t discount the quality CDPR consistently delivers – and of course, the studio has already proven how it can adapt its content to run on console, as we’ve seen with the remarkable Xbox 360 conversion of The Witcher 2 back in the day. To make this project viable, CDPR re-architected key parts of the RED engine and re-authored much of the content.

That said, we know that the studio is focussed on the new Cyberpunk 2077, which many believe will ship sometime next year. The Witcher 2 on Xbox 360 was a studio-wide effort and that’s highly unlikely to be the case with a potential Switch Witcher 3 port, which is much more likely to be a collaboration with an external studio.

Meanwhile, on the subject of rumors, here’s an interesting tweet from Eurogamer’s Tom Phillips apparently riding the bandwagon of a possible “Switcher 3 port” announcement next week:

Ahead of the, ahem, *totally unexpected* announce of Witcher 3 on Switch next week, here’s Digital Foundry on how it can work.

Ehh so does that confirm it or?