Although The Witcher 3: Complete Edition for Nintendo Switch makes some graphical sacrifices in order to squeeze the White Wolf's adventure into the console, it's the type of magic only Yennefer could conjure up all the same - a breath-taking experience that's found a new home, and new life, on one of the most exciting devices available today.
For fans of The Witcher 3, it can be difficult to imagine that it's been a full four years since the title arrived on consoles and PC in the third installment of CD Projekt Red's fantasy RPG trilogy. The critically acclaimed game immediately vaulted what had been a niche but promising franchise into the discussion for one of the best western RPG releases ever, and the quality of the content that has been released since through Hearts of Stone and Blood & Wine has elevated CD Projekt Red's reputation as a developer to one that very few studios can lay claim to. In short, The Witcher 3 is a groundbreaking title, one that certainly isn't perfect but makes up for it with an incredible attention to detail and an engrossing, larger-than-life world.
That latter quality is the biggest point of concern for consumers who might otherwise be sold on The Witcher 3: Complete Edition for Nintendo Switch. While a mobile port of The Witcher 3 has long been the dream for many, it's an ambitious undertaking. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an absolutely gorgeous game even now, and a lot of the glitches that accompanied the title when it launched were smoothed over by how good the game looked and how smoothly its game world ran overall. Although The Witcher 3: Complete Edition for Nintendo Switch makes some graphical sacrifices in order to squeeze the White Wolf's adventure into the console, it's the type of magic only Yennefer could conjure up all the same - a breath-taking experience that's found a new home, and new life, on one of the most exciting devices available today.
The Witcher 3: Complete Edition compiles the 16 free DLC packs CD Projekt Red released for Wild Hunt alongside the main game and two of the greatest expansions ever released in Hearts of Stone and Blood & Wine. It's a daunting collection of content, something that even the most industrious quester will find takes somewhere in the range of 150-200 hours to complete, and the stature of the game coupled with the time investment is likely what has prevented many interested parties from actually jumping into the world of The Witcher. That makes the Nintendo Switch a natural fit for The Witcher 3: Complete Edition, as portability goes a long way in making such lengthy journeys more palatable - it's a lot easier to commit 1-2 hours of transit time whenever it's available than whatever limited amounts of free time consumers have in the home.
That being said, for a game that's visuals have long been a selling point, there are some serious concessions made in bringing it to the Nintendo Switch. The Witcher 3: Complete Edition runs at 540p in handheld mode, which is actually downscaled from the Switch screen's 720p. Luckily, the size of the screen massages a lot of this issue away - the font on each menu comes in crisp, and the graphics are still impressive, perhaps even moreso in the context of being displayed on such a small screen. The environment remains just as engrossing as ever, with weather still prominent in each region - the misting rains and murky swamps of Velen are still as brooding as ever, while Novigrad remains bustling with life.
In handheld mode, the biggest concern is with combat, where it can be difficult to track enemies. There are a lot of smaller enemies that roam the many regions of The Witcher 3: Complete Edition, and it can be difficult to spot them on such a compact screen. This issue only really crops up while fighting enemies like wolves or Drowners on Death March difficulty, though - the game's lower difficulty settings are forgiving enough that the odd sneak attack isn't back-breaking, and the bigger enemies are easy to track since they still take up a decent chunk of the view. Still, it's an adjustment, and it's one that will inevitably frustrate players once or twice before they begin to get used to the more crowded visual aesthetic in handheld mode.
While docking the Switch alleviates the issue of spotting enemies, it creates a great deal more problems in general. Displaying The Witcher 3: Complete Edition while docked on a 4k television is nothing short of ugly - the textures are blurry, jagged, and blocky. It's simply too tall a task for the Nintendo Switch's hardware, and it results in some visual lag during big fights, too. If the plan for consumers is to play The Witcher 3: Complete Edition on a television screen, they're better off picking up the game on basically any other platform.
To be honest, though, The Witcher 3: Complete Edition never really felt like a release that's meant to be played on television screens, and the option still exists for those who want to - the smaller the screen or the more dated the television the better, however. In handheld mode, the game runs pretty much like a dream, another feat that didn't seem possible even when the port had been announced. Combat is smooth, the menus are extremely easy to navigate, and subtitles display crisply and are easy to read - the latter of which is generally a problem for a lot of text-heavy Switch games, so it's a nice surprise.
Ultimately, The Witcher 3: Complete Edition is not the premier way to experience what remains one of the best RPG experiences available today. For fans who want the best visuals and the best gameplay experience, the PC platform remains the ideal choice. However, The Witcher 3: Complete Edition does succeed in bringing almost all of the magic present within the game to a platform that didn't seem feasible, and as a result offers an option to many players who might have found the game too daunting otherwise. Taking The Witcher 3: Complete Edition anywhere is a huge boon given the game's length, and it's a fantastic way to re-experience the game after having played through it already once. Despite the technical shortcomings, The Witcher 3: Complete Edition for Nintendo Switch is a great port of an even greater game.
The Witcher 3: Complete Edition for Nintendo Switch is available now. Screen Rant was provided with a download code for the purposes of this review.