The Witcher 3 PS4 Pro HDR Patch Adds Visual/Performance Improvements, But Also Has Some Issues

thewitcher3
(Photo: CD Projekt Red)

Despite releasing back in 2015, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is still one of the most beautiful and graphically impressive games on the market. And recently it got even better looking, kind of.

Polish developer CD Projekt Red recently released a new patch for the game that added high dynamic range (HDR) support to both PS4 and PS4 Pro. And not long after the update hit, some users started reporting issues with it.

With the patch implemented, both the PS4 and PS4 Pro versions of the game have never looked better, especially on the latter where the 4K checkerboarding is in effect. In fact, the PS4 Pro version is largely now indistinguishable between the Xbox One X version, despite the latter containing more powerful specs.

The upgrade is perhaps most noticeable in the game's more colorful and vibrant areas, like Toussaint (the setting of the Blood and Wine expansion), which now looks even more like it was taken straight out of a child's fairytale book.

However, these new improvements have a cost, at least at the moment. On the PS4 Pro specifically, draw distances and shadows are not as good, especially when its pumping out 4K. In the game, this lends itself to more pop-ins for things like grass. The problem is largely exclusive to vegetation and the shadows they produce though, with draw distances for NPCs and other settings unaffected.

In short, the game looks prettier thanks to the power of HDR, but the detail of the world isn't quite as good. Personally, I prefer the latter if I'm picking.

The Witcher 3 is great to play on any system, but other than the PC, the Xbox appears to be the best place to enjoy the epic open-world RPG. Xbox versions notably don't suffer the above issues, and the Xbox One X version also comes packing 60 FPS, which neither PS4 version currently offers.

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As mentioned above, the patch marginally improves performance as well. And if you don't want the draw distance issues on PS4 Pro, you can turn off the 4K sampling. By doing this, you will go back down to 1080p, where the draw distances across the board are unaffected, and where performance boosts are the most noticeable.

For more detailed dive into the patch and its specifics, be sure to check out Eurogamer's lenghty article that provides just that.