It’s been over seven years since the original release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and as far as we’re concerned, it’s still unmatched in the modern role-playing space. If anything, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition is a poignant reminder that many of the bars CD Projekt Red set in 2015 have yet to be topped. Geralt’s adventures across the Northern Realms are just as engrossing now as they were back then, with the game’s spectacular character writing, superb world building, and high quality questing all but in a league of their own.
But before we give the whole review away, let’s go over what the Complete Edition actually is. This is an enhanced PS5 re-release of The Witcher 3 and its two expansions, Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine — although you need to own those expansions already if you want to upgrade them for free on the current-gen console. It’s essentially a remaster, with updated visuals and boosted performance — but it also throws in a bunch of gameplay tweaks which help improve the overall experience. Plus a photo mode!
Graphically, Complete Edition is a welcome leap forward. You may not notice the enhancements immediately — especially if you haven’t touched The Witcher 3 in years — but putting the PS4 and PS5 versions side by side reveals a raft of improvements, particularly in the finer details. The draw distance, for example, is far better, and higher resolution textures are plastered all over the place. Grasses are denser, the world’s lighting is more dynamic, and there are even new weather effects. It all looks lovely.
This PS5 port features two graphical modes, those being your usual ‘quality’ and ‘performance’ options. Both maintain a crisp checkerboard 4K resolution, which is great to see, but ‘quality’ is capped at 30 frames per second, while ‘performance’ pushes things to 60. Needless to say, that 60fps can make a significant difference when it comes to combat, but for once, we’d encourage you to at least try the ‘quality’ setting.
That’s because it enables ray tracing, which can really make the visuals pop with enhanced reflections, both on water and on the surfaces of shiny objects, like windows and armour. Again, the 30fps cap is a kicker, but if you want to see The Witcher 3 at its absolute best on console, even for just a few minutes, it’s well worth flicking the switch.
Now then, onto the gameplay improvements. At its core, the title’s gameplay remains unchanged; the somewhat divisive combat system is the same as it’s always been, and main character Geralt’s movement is still a bit jank. However, the performance mode’s 60fps boost does make a big difference, all but eliminating the slight input lag that was present in the PS4 release. The increased responsiveness alone makes this PS5 edition feel far better to play.
The new ‘quick cast’ option certainly helps in this regard, too. You can now just hold down R2 and press a corresponding face button to unleash Geralt’s magical signs in battle. Previously, you had to open up a full radial menu to switch between signs, which gave combat a tactical, but ultimately disjointed flow. Another welcome improvement — and you can still use the radial wheel in conjunction with the real-time setting.
Then you’ve got the new camera mode, which lets you place the camera much closer to Geralt, just next to his right shoulder. In the original, the default camera was awkwardly positioned. It had Geralt almost bang in the middle of the screen, and this meant that when you wanted to interact with objects, you often had to lift the camera above Geralt’s head and look down at the environment in finicky fashion. With the new (and default) close camera, this is obviously no longer an issue, and as such, we’d highly recommend using it. Particularly in tight spaces, it makes a massive difference.
It might seem like a small addition, but a shift in perspective can have a profound impact on how a game’s world is perceived. We wouldn’t go as far to say that the new camera is transformative, but it does give the title a more cinematic quality. Simply put, it’s much easier to appreciate the fantastic artistry and the impressive scale of The Witcher 3’s setting when Geralt isn’t standing in the middle of the screen.
The close camera can be used for combat as well — its own separate setting in the options menu — but it’s harder to recommend. In battle, having a narrower field of view means that you’re going to want to keep all of your enemies front and centre, which is easier said than done when you’ve got jumpy ghouls darting around the arena. The old camera arguably works better here, as it zooms out a bit to give you a wider view of the action.
Having said that, if you’re looking for a greater challenge, the new camera is worth checking out, as it forces to you play with more caution so that you’re not surrounded. Think God of War Ragnarok’s perspective, and you’ll get the idea.
It’s not surprising, but thanks to all of these additions and improvements, Complete Edition is the best version of The Witcher 3 on PlayStation. And that’s without mentioning the new content, which includes weapons, armours, and a new quest inspired by The Witcher on Netflix. Said quest is actually really good — a lengthy escapade that takes place within one of the game’s barely utilised locations. We won’t spoil anything here, but the level of quality is up there with some of The Witcher 3’s finest excursions — and that’s high praise. CDPR didn’t need to inject this much effort into a one-off quest in a free upgrade, but it did, and it’s well worth checking out.
With all of the new stuff out of the way, we want to quickly reflect on what makes The Witcher 3 such a landmark RPG. As mentioned, it’s the writing that solidifies its place near the top of the pantheon. The dialogue is, for the most part, immaculately crafted, packed with charm and wit, without ever being overbearing in its exposition. It’s the kind of writing that draws you into a fantastical world and makes it feel shockingly grounded.
The game’s overall tone is masterfully balanced as well. The Witcher’s world is relentlessly grim — especially if you happen to be a hapless peasant — but an excellent sense of dark humour prevents proceedings from becoming needlessly miserable.
Meanwhile, the side quests are often held aloft as the best to ever grace a video game, and it’s easy to see why. The vast majority of completely optional adventures are deeply engaging because of the sharp storytelling that surrounds them. The Witcher 3’s best assets have aged incredibly well — not that a genuinely great script will ever truly dull, but you know what we’re getting at.
There are aspects of the game that haven’t quite stood the test of time, though. We are, perhaps predictably, talking about the combat system. Even with the benefits of 60fps, there’s no getting away from the fact that fighting can feel unwieldy due to overly elaborate animations and some dodgy target tracking. It’s still enjoyable when you’re unleashing signs and spinning between foes — and the power fantasy of being a veteran monster-killing machine kicks in at later levels — but it can be a difficult obstacle to overcome until you’re used to the game’s slightly awkward rhythm.
It’s a shame that combat remains untouched in this update, but we understand that CDPR didn’t want to alter its most beloved game on a fundamental level. But hey, the developer did go the extra mile and implement full DualSense controller support on PS5. The haptic feedback is top notch, offering a range of rumbles whether you’re galloping across the countryside or slamming your sword into an ugly creature. Adaptive triggers are also an option, and as long as you don’t mind exerting the additional effort, they’re put to use quite nicely when firing your crossbow, or letting loose with a sign.