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Hey friend! Here‘s the scoop on whether The Witcher 3‘s next-gen update will be free for you on Steam

I‘ve got some great news for you – the big next-gen update for The Witcher 3 coming on December 14 will be completely free if you already own the base game on Steam!

As a loyal Witcher fan, you won‘t need to pay anything extra to experience all the awesome graphical enhancements, faster loading times, and other improvements this upgrade will bring. CD Projekt Red has you covered!

Now let me fill you in on everything you need to know about this exciting update for one of the greatest RPGs of all time. I‘ll give you the scoop on what new features it includes, how well it runs on PC, whether you should replay the game, and more.

Here‘s a sneak peek at the slick new features you‘ll get in the next-gen update:

  • Ray tracing – Real-time lighting and shadows to make environments way more realistic. You‘ll feel truly immersed!

  • Faster loading – Near instant fast travel and entering buildings. Say goodbye to immersion breaking waits!

  • Visual upgrades – Higher resolution textures, better models and effects to appreciate those Witcher world details.

  • Technical improvements – Native 4K and 60 FPS support on new hardware for super smooth gameplay.

  • New Witcher Netflix items – Weapons, armor, and alternate Ciri outfit inspired by the Netflix series. Pretty cool freebies!

And plenty more enhancements to improve the overall experience. Based on early analysis, these upgrades make the visuals pop significantly more compared to the original game.

Once you see the ray traced lighting in action, you‘ll be blown away by how much more natural and realistic everything looks. Trust me, Night City in Cyberpunk 2077 has nothing on The Witcher 3 environments with this next-gen glow-up!

Let‘s break down the release date and availability:

Mark your calendar for December 14, 2022 – that‘s when this free update drops for The Witcher 3 on Steam and other platforms.

For you Steam folks, the download size is around 3 GB. Not too huge! Once the update is live, Steam will automatically provide the next-gen version to anyone who owns the base game.

If you‘re new to The Witcher 3, no worries! Any purchase of the game after the update will also grant you the next-gen edition from the start. So you won‘t miss out on any of the enhancements either.

But what about my existing saves on Steam?

I‘ve got excellent news on this front. CD Projekt Red has implemented cross-progression with the next-gen update!

This means your Steam saves from the original Witcher 3 will carry right over when you install the next-gen upgrade. Nifty!

You can simply continue your existing adventure with Geralt and Ciri picking up exactly where you left off. The improved graphics and performance will apply automatically to your saved game.

Cross-progression also works between platforms, so you can even transfer your PC saves over to continue on PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S. A handy quality of life upgrade for sure.

How does the update run on PC? Is performance optimized well?

I won‘t sugarcoat it – the early reception on PC performance has been a bit mixed. Here are the key takeaways so far:

  • Framerates are generally solid at 60 FPS or higher with newer GPUs and CPUs. But some stuttering and drops have been reported in crowded city areas like Novigrad.

  • Raw performance seems largely on par with the original game before the upgrade.

  • Enabling hot new ray tracing features can hit FPS by 30-40% even on top-end RTX 4090 cards at 4K resolution.

  • To show off all the bells and whistles, you‘ll need some beefy modern hardware – an RTX 3080 or better GPU, fast CPU, and SSD storage.

  • AMD FSR 2.0 upscaling can help regain some lost frames from ray tracing.

Clearly the visual upgrades come with a performance cost, especially ray tracing. The developers acknowledge there‘s still room for optimization on PC and consoles. Several patches have already helped improve technical issues since launch.

I expect further stability fixes down the road. But you may need to tweak settings to find the right balance of eye candy and smooth framerates for your system.

With the next-gen upgrades, should you replay The Witcher 3 again?

If you sunk 100+ hours into The Witcher 3 already, is it worth jumping back in just for prettier graphics and faster loads? Let‘s weigh the pros:

  • The ray tracing revolutionizes lighting, shadows, and reflections – environments look staggeringly more realistic. Once you see it, you can‘t unsee it!

  • Higher 4K resolution paired with high-res textures let you appreciate finer details you never noticed before.

  • Smoother 60 FPS gameplay makes combat and action sequences feel tighter and more responsive.

  • Faster loading screens help with immersion and cut down on wasted time twiddling your thumbs.

  • Mod support enables reshades, texture packs, model replacers, and other mods to further elevate the experience.

Many reviewers say the next-gen visuals add extra depth and life to the environments and characters. The world feels more vibrant, rich, and lively. I‘d say it‘s worth diving back in to see The Continent in a breathtaking new light!

Plus, with New Game +, you can replay keeping your levels, gear, and abilities to plow through the story faster. And experience fresh side quests you may have missed the first time around.

This free next-gen update is a pretty sweet deal!

Let‘s take a moment to appreciate how consumer-friendly CD Projekt Red is being with this major update compared to other developers:

  • Sony charged $10 to upgrade Spider-Man from PS4 to PS5 remaster.

  • Rockstar keeps re-releasing GTA V at full-price while existing owners get squat.

  • Naughty Dog charged $70 for The Last of Us Part I remake on PS5. Even if you owned the original!

Meanwhile, CDPR is handing out this ambitious next-gen overhaul for free to all existing Witcher 3 players on Steam. And providing full parity with consoles this time, unlike downgraded Witcher 2. That‘s pretty darn generous if you ask me!

It shows they still care deeply about this masterpiece years later and want to reward fans for their passion. The goodwill from this move is off the charts. Well played, CDPR!

Let‘s get you that next-gen upgrade on Steam:

When the update goes live on December 14, here‘s a simple step-by-step guide to make sure you get that upgraded experience:

  1. Open up Steam and load your Library. Find The Witcher 3 in your games list.

  2. The ~3 GB next-gen update will start automatically downloading in the background.

  3. Once finished, launch The Witcher 3 like normal through Steam.

  4. Verify it now says The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Version 4.01 or higher. Congrats, you‘re officially next-gen enhanced!

  5. Kick the graphics up to Ultra, turn on ray tracing, and pump it up to 4K resolution if your hardware can handle it.

  6. Load an existing save or start a brand new playthrough to admire how amazing everything looks now!

If the update somehow doesn‘t trigger automatically, just re-verify integrity of your Witcher 3 game files. That should force it to detect and install the latest upgrades.

Be aware of some launch issues and potential fixes:

As with most huge game updates, there have been reports of some technical quirks after The Witcher 3‘s next-gen launch:

  • Decreased performance and FPS drops – hotfix patches are steadily improving optimization.

  • Weird graphical glitches – developers are investigating specific instances.

  • Mod conflicts and crashes – some older mods may need updating.

  • Motion blur causes flickering on consoles – easy fix is disabling motion blur.

I expect upcoming patches will smooth out the remaining kinks. Here are some tips that could help if you run into trouble:

  • Update your GPU drivers and Windows to eliminate any conflicts.

  • Disable or remove outdated mods causing clashes with the new upgrade.

  • Adjust graphics settings to find the right balance between eye candy and performance.

  • Verify integrity of game files or reinstall if you see odd graphical corruption.

  • Lower resolution can help regain FPS if your system struggles with 4K.

  • Turn off motion blur on PC if you notice weird flickering it causes on consoles.

Before you dive in, let‘s recap the key FAQs:

Do the expansions also get improvements?

Yes! Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine will benefit from the visual and technical upgrades too. You may need to own the expansions to access the enhanced versions though.

What about that bonus Netflix Witcher DLC?

The new Netflix-inspired weapons, armor, and Ciri outfit will be available for free to everyone with the next-gen update installed!

Do I need to re-buy the game to get the next-gen update?

Nope! If you already own the base game on Steam, you get all the next-gen goodness at no extra cost.

Can I transfer my Steam saves to the next-gen version?

Yup, your existing Witcher 3 PC saves will carry right over and work with the next-gen update! Saves can also go from PC to consoles.

The bottom line: This next-gen upgrade is a must-play!

Well friend, that sums up everything you need to know about the upcoming Witcher 3 next-gen update on Steam!

The bottom line:

  • It will be completely FREE for you if you already own the base game on Steam.

  • You get awesome visual improvements, faster loading, and technical upgrades to make the experience more immersive.

  • Despite some launch issues, the update makes The Witcher 3 look and feel better than ever before.

So get ready to once again step into the boots of Geralt of Rivia for an exciting upgraded monster hunting adventure! Let me know what you think once you‘ve had a chance to check out the next-gen enhancements.

Enjoy the Path, my friend!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.