The Witcher 3 Enhanced Edition mod completely overhauls combat and alchemy

This is not the Witcher 3 I played. In the game I remember, Geralt whirled and twirled his way through combat, magnetising to the nearest enemy. Combat wasn't always easy, and it did have some depthI had fun wading into crowds of enemies, dodging and rolling out of the way, and buffing up with potions before big fights. But I was always disappointed with the limitations of The Witcher 3's skill upgrade system, and upgrading gear and the Quen sign made late-game battles less challenge, more race to see how fast I could decapitate every monster or thug in sight. The Witcher 3 Enhanced Edition does not play like that. And for anyone who was turned off by The Witcher 3's vanilla combat, this mod might be just what they need to enjoy one of the best games of all time.

Here's the pitch for The Witcher 3 Enhanced Edition, from the mod page: "[Insert generic sales pitch here.]" Okay, well, that doesn't help us at all. Let me take a crack at it: W3EE comes from a team of modders who couldn't stand the vanilla game's combat, and so they set out to fix it by removing autotargeting, adding new animations, new ways to parry attacks, the ability to control the distance of every swing, inflicting and taking injuries to body parts like the head and legs, and a whole slew of new stats that affect damage, speed, etc. And that's just the combat stuff.

What makes Witcher 3 Enhanced Edition a really interesting mod, even if you were fine with the original combat system like I was, is that it completely removes the concept of leveling from the game. Every item, enemy, everything out there in the world has a set level from the get-go. As you'd expect from a mod this big, signs, inventory, and especially alchemy have been radically changed as well. Here are some of the highlights:

"Gameplay and Exploration: There are absolutely no things in the game that are leveled anymore. Not the equipment, not the quests, not the enemies and not even Geralt. You can explore anywhere and take on anything at the beginning of the game with the potential to be successful in your endeavors instead of being completely barred from content. Geralt's progression happens organically through gameplay by using his innate abilities, like performing fast and heavy attacks, blocking, countering, creating alchemical items, casting signs, etc. These all increase the skill progression of their respective paths, granting you talent points for use ONLY in that path. If you brew many potions, you will be good at brewing potions. Makes sense.

"Talents: Talents have been majorly overhauled and rebalanced. Most combat talents were changed, along with half of alchemy ones and a couple of the sign ones. They are active as soon as unlocked and they only need to be equipped to synergize with mutagens.You can preview the later talent levels by highlighting it and using the contextual buttons displayed on the bottom of the screen.

"Poise: Poise is the stat which dictates resistance to stagger. Both the player and enemies have it. It is calculated based on armor worn, available health, red mutagens, toxicity, etc. Higher poise means a higher chance to resist stagger from an incoming light attack (and possibly heavy attacks too, later on)."

That's just a portion of the many changes Enhanced Edition makes, like adding different size enemies and giving enemies armor and more aggressive AI, and giving every alchemy ingredient a set of base components that can be used interchangeably.

But you get the idea. It looks like the same game, but a few seconds into combat and it feels very different. The simple lack of magnetism on attacks meant most of my early swings sliced through the air in front of me. A pack of random nekkers posed a real threat. But I liked the feel of pressing Ctrl or Alt to modify an attack's distance, helping me close gaps and dance behind an enemy to slash them without taking damage. There's suddenly a stiff skill curve here, and not one primarily dictated by what level I am compared to my enemies.

My favorite thing about the original Witcher was how essential potions and oils were to defeating its monsters. That was a hard-ass game, and hard in a way that utterly sold the idea of Witchers and the power of their mutagens. 

Witcher 3 Enhanced Edition feels like it brings that back, and then some. The mod has been in development since last year, but recently hit its v2.5 release, and one member of the mod team posted a new video showing off the combat in more depth. 

This is all a long way of saying: if you felt like you needed an excuse to spend a hundred hours playing The Witcher 3 again, now you have one. You can grab Enhanced Edition on Nexus Mods here. We also have a full list of the best Witcher 3 mods if you need even more goodies.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).