The Witcher 3 Was An Absolute Mess When It Was Initially Ported To Switch
Although The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for the Switch is not exactly the most cutting-edge title, it’s still an impressive feat for the hybrid system. In fact, prior to its official reveal, there were many sceptics claiming it wasn’t even possible.
Now that the game has been released on Nintendo’s latest generation of hardware, Saber Interactive chief executive officer Matthew Karch has lifted the lid on what it was like to bring CD Projekt Red’s epic open-world RPG across to the Switch.
The earlier results weren’t pretty:
When the initial port was done, the game was running at 10 frames per second, was taking 50% more memory than the Switch has, and the build size was 20GB larger than the biggest Switch cartridge
Obviously, the team was able to overcome these problems – fitting the entirety of the game onto a 32GB game card and gameplay targeting 30fps.
To get these results, the team had to find “creative optimizations” to maintain the frame rate while keeping the overall “look and feel” of the game intact.
For example, after cutting the number of NPCs by 30%, we started getting complaints that the levels, especially Novigrad and Toussaint, felt rather empty. We had to reintroduce most of those features back and find creative optimizations to get the frame rate up.
As more issues were encountered, such as how the engine calculated in-game shadows on Switch, Saber had to continue to rethink its approach. It led to it rewriting the algorithm for how the grass generated and rendered in the game world. The team also had to adjust other environmental details to ensure the Switch release looked similar to existing versions.
Thankfully, it was worth it in the long run, with the CEO admitting the team worked tirelessly for a year:
We worked tirelessly for a year to get the game running on Switch at 30 fps without losing the incredible visuals fans expect.