March 13, 2023, was a very good day for PC Gamer associate editor Ted Litchfield. Because on that day, CD Projekt finally fixed the grass shadows in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, meaning he could finally enjoy the game the way it was meant to be. At the time, he no doubt believed that peak videogame grass quality had been achieved—and yet somehow, CD Projekt has made it even better.
The new-and-even-more-improved grass comes as part of a new patch for The Witcher 3 that takes the game to version 4.04. It's a bit unusual for big patches to be rolling out for eight-year-old games, yes, but the case of The Witcher 3 is somewhat unique thanks to the major next-gen update that dropped at the end of 2022. It brought a whole new level of visual fidelity to the game, along with new content and various changes and adjustments, but also—no real surprise here—introduced some all-new technical issues that needed to be stomped out.
Where the previous patch aimed to make improvements to the game's performance and stability, this one is more focused on granular bug fixes, adjustments, and quality-of-life changes. Some characters' hair could look "too bright" when ray tracing is enabled, for instance, and GOG achievements were apparently unlocking for the wrong version of the game—both of those issues have been fixed. Fog that looked two-dimensional in some locales should now look properly three-dee, a problem that could cause the mountains around Kaer Morhen to disappear if you adjusted the camera angle while Geralt was underwater has been fixed, and of course the big one: "Grass collision now works properly."
The patch is actually bigger news for anyone playing Witcher 3 on the Nintendo Switch: It adds a number of new online features including cross-progression with other platforms, new content including side quests inspired by The Witcher on Netflix (which have already been released on PC), various QoL changes including quick-casting and instant herb looting, and a "curated" version of the Full Combat Rebalance 3 mod.
The full list of "notable changes and additions" (the patch notes exclude some fixes that CD Projekt apparently felt were too minor to mention) is below:
- Fixed an issue where GOG achievements for the Complete Edition would unlock for the base version instead.
- Frames allowed by the "Maximum Frames Per Second" setting will now be counted properly when DLSS Frame Generation is enabled.
- Fixed some instances where characters' hair could look too bright when Ray Tracing was enabled.
- Bald Mountain - Fixed a crash that occurred when Ray Tracing was enabled and all the other Ray Tracing options were off.
- The Beast of White Orchard - Fixed an issue where loading a certain checkpoint save could cause the game to freeze if Ray Tracing was enabled.
- Fixed an issue where the game would start without REDlauncher and open a browser tab request for permission to "Use Cyberpunk 2077 with your Epic Games Account".
- Fixed an issue where input from a gamepad could still work while having the game in a suspended state.
- Fixed an issue where a second cursor with high sensitivity would appear in the Main Menu when "Hardware Cursor" was set to "Off".
- Fixed an issue where certain hairstyles from the "Beard and Hairstyle Set" DLC would clip through the Nilfgaardian helmet on previous-gen consoles.
- Fixed an issue with flickering textures that occurred during Gwent matches on next-gen consoles.
- A Towerful of Mice - Fixed an issue on previous-gen consoles where the conversation with Keira would sometimes not trigger after the fight with the pesta.
- Cabaret - Fixed some visual issues with Dandelion's model before and during the staged fight on previous-gen consoles.
- The Last Wish and Wandering in the Dark - Fixed an issue where the game could crash on PlayStation 5 during these quests.
- Improved stability during or after loading a save file after playing in Ray Tracing mode for prolonged periods of time.
- Fixed an issue where the Cross Progression setting does not update the interface of the Cloud Saves status correctly on Xbox Series X.
Visual - PC and Next-Gen Exclusive
- Fixed an issue where fog could look as if it were 2D in some places.
- Fixed an issue where the sky's reflection on the water with Ray Tracing enabled was partially missing at specific locations in White Orchard, Velen and Toussaint.
- Grass collision now works properly.
- Added an HDR calibration option.
- Fixed an issue where the mountains in Kaer Morhen could disappear when changing the camera angle while Geralt is under water.
- Get Junior - Removed an unnecessary body of water from Oxenfurt sewers.
- Fixed an issue where the loading screen would stutter while having Ray Tracing enabled.
Quests and Gameplay
- Added an option to switch potions and apply oils from the radial menu.
- Fixed an issue where Geralt's health rapidly depleted when diving.
- The Final Trial - Fixed an issue where leaving the area and coming back could cause Lambert to stand in the water instead of sitting in the boat, blocking progress.
- Addressed some issues with loading saves when using the Cross Progression feature on multiple machines with the same GOG account.
Online Features - Nintendo Switch
- Added a cross-progression feature between platforms which replaces the previous save file integration introduced in patch 3.6 for the Nintendo Switch. Your latest saves will be automatically uploaded to the cloud so you can easily pick up where you left off on other platforms. Cross-progression provides the latest save for every save type. This feature becomes available after you log into your account. Please note that it requires a GOG account regardless of your platform.
- By signing up to MY REWARDS in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, players can receive:
- Swords of the Nine-Tailed Vixen
- White Tiger of the West Armor
- Dol Blathanna Armor Set
- Roach Card
- Detailed information on how to redeem the rewards is available at thewitcher.com/my-rewards
Additional Content - Nintendo Switch
- Added a new side quest, In The Eternal Fire's Shadow, in Velen. Rewards are inspired by Neftlix's The Witcher series.
- Added an alternative appearance for Dandelion inspired by Netflix's The Witcher series. You can enable it in Options → Gameplay.
- Added an alternative Nilfgaardian Armor set inspired by Netflix's The Witcher series. You can enable it in Options → Gameplay.
- Added Chinese and Korean voice-overs. Availability varies by region and version.
Quality-of-Life Changes - Nintendo Switch
- Added a Quick Sign Casting option. It allows signs to be switched and cast without opening the radial menu. You can find it in Options → Gameplay.
- Adjusted the minimum height for fall damage, allowing the player to survive falls from higher heights.
- Herbs can now be instantly looted with a single interaction – without the additional loot window.
- Added options that dynamically hide the minimap and quest objectives when not in combat or using Witcher senses. You can find it in Options → Video → HUD Configuration → Hide minimap during Exploration and Hide objectives during Exploration.
- Added the option to slow walk when playing with a controller. You can now slow walk by lightly pushing the left stick forward.
- Added an alternative sprint mode option when playing with a controller. It's activated by tapping the left stick. You can find it in Options → Control Settings.
- Added an option to make target-lock unnaffected by camera inversion. You can find it in Options → Control Settings.
- Improved the radial menu so bombs, bolts and pocket items can now be switched dynamically without opening the inventory.
- Added the option to scale the font size for subtitles, NPC chatter and dialogue choices. You can find it in Options → Video → HUD Configuration.
- Added various other small fixes, tweaks, and quality-of-life changes, including a few secrets to be discovered by players.
- Added an option to switch potions and apply oils from the radial menu.
- Added an option to auto-apply oils in combat.
- New default map filter. The new default filter hides some icons such as "?" and boat icons in order to reduce the icon flood. These icons can be turned back on with the “All” map mode toggle.
Gameplay - Nintendo Switch
- Added the mod Full Combat Rebalance 3 by Flash_in_the_flesh which includes balance changes and various fixes to gameplay. We took a curated approach to this mod, with some elements further tweaked from what you’ll find in the mod by default, while other elements were omitted.
- Scavenger Hunt: Wolf School Gear - Fixed an issue where the chest at the Signal Tower couldn't be opened.
- From Ofier's Distant Shores - Fixed an issue where the diagram in the chest at the bandit's hideout could be missing.
- Hard Times - Fixed an issue where Geralt couldn't talk or give the letter to the blacksmith.
- Echoes of the Past - Fixed an issue where, after defeating the foglets, the quest could get stuck and it wouldn't be possible to talk to Yennefer.
- Wine Wars- Fixed an issue where the quest couldn't be completed if the player destroyed one of the required monster nests during exploration.
- Fixed an issue where the Grandmaster Wolven Set wouldn't require Mastercrafted items.
- Various small fixes to quests and cutscenes.