It is said that a journey starts with a single step. Of course, running out the door to catch a flight is perfectly acceptable. I was headed to Salt Lake City International airport so I could connect to a flight in Seattle Washington. From there I would embark on the 4,781 mile or 7,694 kilometer journey to the United Kingdom. Despite waking at five o’clock in the morning, I was in good spirits. I had been given the rare opportunity to visit Nintendo HQ in London. I would be attending an exclusive preview of CD PROJEKT RED’s Witcher 3 for Nintendo Switch.
I didn’t quite know what to expect as this was my first press event since I started my humble writing stint. Thanks to Nintendad, I was able to participate in this hands on examination of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition port, aptly dubbed the Switcher. Being as I was unfamiliar with the area, I decided to arrive early the day of the event. I wanted to gather my bearings on Nintendo’s location. I saw on a map that there was an ancient castle nearby and I figured I could pass the time exploring. Little did I know that Windsor castle is kind of a big deal. After indulging in the tourist traps for the first half of the day, I made my way to the Nintendo UK office. I checked in with security and waited in awe while other journalists arrived. Prior to entering the big red door, I was met with a non-disclosure document in preparation of the day’s offerings.
Crossing the threshold was exciting as my eyes were met with a large Piranha Plant and a slew of Nintendo themed goodness. It was like my singular bookcase of Nintendo swag but everywhere! Upon entering the conference room, there were Nintendo Switches sprawled out on the table. For this preview we would only be playing The Witcher 3 in handheld mode. Having seen what it looks like on a television screen already, I was fine with that. I was curious how the game ran on the Nintendo Switch while portable and I would soon find out.
Hands On with The Witcher
A journey starts with a single step. Or in Geralt’s case, a series of hops in rapid succession as I orient myself with the controls. The last time I played a game from the Witcher series was The Witcher 2 on PC. Having mastered the jump button, I spun around in circles a few times for good measure and set out to explore the Continent. The visuals were impressive. Townsfolk meandered about. Flocks of birds flew over head. Foliage covered the ground and trees lined distant hills. The open world was mesmerizing for a handheld device with detachable controllers.
Whether you like or dislike video game ports, there are some clear advantages. One thing that a good port accomplishes is the ability to bring a title to gamers who missed out the first time. To leverage the time since the original launch, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition includes all DLC. Not only that, it was important to CD PROJEKT to include the entirety of the game on a single cartridge with no download necessary. Collectors will be happy to know that any physical purchase will come with some additional goodies.
My time with The Witcher 3 was a blast. There were various save files which allowed me to jump into random places in the story and experience the DLC. I sampled some various quests and took down a few gnarly monsters. No release date was given but I’m excited for when we get to join Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition on the go with Nintendo Switch. The game already seemed polished for release and ran smoothly. I didn’t encounter any issues during my hands on experience.
Meet the Mastermind
Another highlight of the event was the chance to sit down with the Senior Producer in charge of the port, Piotr Chrzanowski. It was evident that Piotr loved working on The Witcher 3 and was proud of what his team had accomplished. He mentioned a few times the hard work they put into making a successful port and how they knew this would be a challenge but never thought it was impossible. The goal from the beginning was to create the same experience for Nintendo Switch owners. The graphics had to be tweaked to fit within the limitations of the hardware. In addition, the user interface was altered when the Switch isn’t docked to make things easier to read. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition also features rich audio with full voice over. The quality didn’t sound hampered in any way. Piotr again gave a nod to the hard work his team did to maintain audio excellence.
Since The Witcher 3 has been out for some time, I didn’t ask a lot of questions about the game itself. I was mostly curious how Mr. Chrzanowski approached the project and his feelings about the results. Piotr was a genuine individual and enjoyed talking about the reactions he got from his peers. One of his favorite moments during the process was taking the first build around the studio and showing off their accomplishments. Teams working on other projects were impressed with the strides the port was making. Following the rumors and leaks about the possibility of The Witcher 3 coming to Nintendo Switch, Piotr shared he was anxious to show the world how much they had accomplished and the fact you could enjoy such a large open world RPG on the go.
One of the draws for myself and a lot of gamers to the Nintendo Switch is the ability to play anytime, anywhere. At the end of the day, it all comes down to relaxing and having fun. So whatever console you own or play, we all win when developers find ways to make their games accessible to more markets. Love or hate ports, they have proven to be successful and are here to stay. I for one couldn’t be more happy to have a quality port. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition for Nintendo Switch seems to be no exception. I look forward to its release.