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Optimizations in The Witcher 3’s DLC makes the game look better and run smoother

It’s been a good year for Geralt of Rivia. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt was released to critical acclaim and massive financial success in May of 2015, and the Hearts of Stone expansion received similar praise just five months later. Blood and Wine, The Witcher 3’s final expansion, is finally available, and it’s impressive in every way. Not only does it offer dozens of hours of high quality monster slaying adventures, but early reports say it looks and performs better than the base game itself.

Based on 29 aggregated reviews, the PC version of Blood and Wine currently has a metascore of 92/100 on Metacritic. At our sister site IGN, the PC version received a 9/10 for its rich storytelling, vibrant new scenery, and clever improvements to the combat upgrade system. Unfortunately, it seems that the console versions of the game weren’t widely available for review ahead of the official release.

Hearts of Stone delivered around ten hours worth of content set in the same locations as the main campaign. The light-hearted story and new Runeword system combined to make the first expansion stand out as some of the best content in the entire series. Considering that Blood and Wine has armor customization, an all-new setting, and roughly 25 hours of content, this new $20 expansion gives Witcher fans exactly what they crave — one last exciting adventure with Geralt.

There’s no denying that Toussaint, a new in-game location inspired by the south of France, showcases CD Projekt RED’s incredible art direction. But there’s more going on here than appealing architecture and high saturation greenery. In an interview with Eurogamer, a member of the development team explains that the expansion will benefit from new optimizations that improve the visuals while reducing the overall number of draw-calls.

The PC version of the game seems to be running well, but the console versions haven’t been given a thorough workout just yet. The day-one release of The Witcher 3 didn’t run particularly well on either console, but a series of patches have improved the performance significantly over time. The developers seem confident that the optimizations will help the console versions of Blood and Wine hold up under CPU strain, so let’s keep our fingers crossed for a rock-solid 30fps.

Keep in mind, these optimizations only apply to the new environments. Since the developers “literally started from scratch” for this DLC, there are underlying improvements in play here that would require substantial work to backport them to the original game. CD Projekt RED hasn’t ruled out a remastered version of the game, but it’s far from guaranteed.

The first two Witcher games received enhanced edition patches, so a major update isn’t out of the question. With all of these rumblings of a mid-cycle refresh, a remastered version of the game with a 60fps target would be ideal for console gamers. And if the PC version of the game gets closer to the “pre-downgrade” demo, all the better.

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