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Is The Witcher 3 Next Gen upgrade free?

In short, yes – the big next-gen update for The Witcher 3 is totally free if you already own the game on PS4, Xbox One, or PC. I‘ll explain all the details below, but existing owners can upgrade at no extra cost.

As a long-time hardcore fan of RPGs and open world games, I‘ve been eagerly awaiting this next-gen upgrade for one of my all-time favorites. And I‘m thrilled it‘s a free update, so let‘s dive in!

What is the next-gen update for The Witcher 3?

In September 2022, CD Projekt Red announced they were working on a major "next-gen" update for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which originally launched way back in 2015.

This free upgrade finally arrived on December 14, 2022, breathing new life into the classic open world RPG for modern consoles and PCs.

Based on my experience upgrading on day one, it‘s a truly transformative update that takes full advantage of new hardware with some awesome improvements:

Visual Upgrades

  • Ray tracing for more lifelike lighting and shadows
  • Higher resolution textures and assets
  • Further draw distances to see distant details clearer
  • Enhanced ambient occlusion for richer environments

Performance Boosts

  • Target 60 FPS frame rate on PS5 and Xbox Series X
  • Faster loading thanks to SSD speeds on new consoles
  • Options to prioritize resolution or frame rate

Quality of Life Improvements

  • Faster saving and loading
  • Instant access to signs and inventory during combat
  • Pin custom map locations for easier navigation
  • Declutter inventory by storing gear

New Witcher-Themed Content

  • New quest based on Netflix‘s Witcher show
  • Alternate Nilfgaardian armor set from Season 1
  • Additional quest for fan-favorite bard Dandelion

For me as a gamer, it‘s a dream upgrade that makes The Witcher 3 feel amazingly modern in 2022 rather than a last-gen RPG from 2015. And the best part? It‘s completely free if you already own the game!

Is the next-gen upgrade free for existing owners?

Yes, CD Projekt Red has confirmed that the huge next-gen update for The Witcher 3 is 100% free for current owners on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

You don‘t need to purchase any new version or pay an upgrade fee. Just download the update at no cost through your original copy.

This free upgrade policy applies globally based on confirmation directly from the developers:

"The next-gen update will be FREE for everyone who already owns any version of The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt on any platform!"

So if you already own even just the base game on PS4, Xbox One, or PC, you qualify for upgrading at no extra charge. All DLC and expansions are optional – the core game is enough to get the free update.

And your save files carry over too, so you can directly continue your existing adventures in the enhanced version. As a fan, this was fantastic news and represented a ton of added value from CDPR!

What if you only own the PS4 or Xbox One version?

If like me you‘ve only experienced The Witcher 3 on a PS4 or Xbox One, don‘t worry – you still get the free upgrade!

When the next-gen update launched on December 14, 2022, existing owners could seamlessly download the enhanced editions for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

The process is straightforward:

For PlayStation:

  • Insert your PS4 game disc into a PS5 console.
  • Go to the game hub and select the PS5 upgrade offer.
  • Download and install the PS5 version of the game.

For Xbox:

  • Insert your Xbox One disc into an Xbox Series X/S.
  • Find the game in your library and take the free upgrade offer.
  • Download the optimized Series X/S edition.

And if you originally bought the game digitally, the process is the same – just find The Witcher 3 in your digital library instead of using a disc.

The key is downloading the correct next-gen edition. As long as you grab the right version, existing owners get it for free on both PlayStation and Xbox platforms.

What about owning The Witcher 3 on PC?

Great news for PC gamers too – the next-gen update is also free if you already own The Witcher 3 on PC!

No matter which PC platform you originally bought it on – Steam, GOG, Epic Games Store, etc – you still qualify for the free upgrade.

For example, I first bought the game on Steam back in 2015. When the next-gen update released, The Witcher 3 automatically updated itself to the enhanced version right through Steam. Easy and free!

Here‘s a quick overview for other PC platforms:

  • Steam: Updates automatically via Steam auto-update feature.
  • GOG: Download upgraded files from the game‘s GOG store page.
  • Epic Games Store: Auto-updates to latest version on launch.
  • Other: Manually download update from the game‘s store page.

So no matter how or where you bought The Witcher 3 on PC, you can upgrade to the remaster for zero cost through your original purchase. Your save files will carry over perfectly in the new version too.

Do you need to own the expansions too?

Nope – owning just the base version of The Witcher 3 qualifies you for the free next-gen update!

The upgrade applies whether you only have the core game or also bought the major DLC expansions like Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine.

Those massive expansions are awesome, but totally optional for getting the remaster. The base game alone nets you the free upgrade.

However, keep in mind that the upgrade itself does NOT include the expansions if you don‘t already have them. It only enhances the content you currently own.

So for the full next-gen experience, I‘d highly recommend also buying the DLC. But you can always do that later and still enjoy the upgraded base game for free in the meantime!

Will The Witcher 3 get a full next-gen bundle?

CD Projekt Red has announced an all-inclusive bundle called The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition coming in late 2022.

This bundle is designed for next-gen newcomers who don‘t already own any prior version of the game. It includes:

  • The Witcher 3 base game
  • All DLC expansions and content
  • Optimized for next-gen at launch

The catch is that the Complete Edition isn‘t free – it‘s priced at $49.99. But it‘s the best option for brand new players to get everything in one remastered package.

The free upgrade is only for existing owners, while the Complete Edition is for new buyers. So between the two options, all players can enjoy a next-gen optimized version!

How substantial are the next-gen improvements?

Based on playing the upgraded version myself extensively, I‘m blown away by how much better it looks and performs compared to the original PS4 edition.

Here‘s a deeper look at some of the most impressive upgrades:

Ray tracing and improved lighting

The addition of ray traced lighting, shadows, and reflections takes the visuals to the next level. Everything looks more realistic, especially in dark interiors like caves and castles. Sunlight filtering through trees looks incredible now.

4K textures and assets

Higher resolution textures make surfaces like stone walls and wooden objects appear more detailed and lifelike. Armor sets and clothing also look sharper. Even facial animations seem elevated.

Farther draw distances

Thanks to the extra horsepower of new consoles and PCs, you can see much farther into the distance now. Distant towns and terrain look crisp instead of blurry, which makes the world feel bigger.

Target 60 FPS frame rate

This was by far the biggest improvement for me. The fluidity of combat and exploration at 60 FPS makes everything feel remarkably smooth and responsive. It‘s especially noticeable on horseback across the open world.

Faster loading

Loading times are hugely reduced thanks to the blazing fast SSDs in PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. Booting up and fast traveling feels near instant now compared to the slog on PS4.

Quality of life refinements

Lots of small upgrades like instantly accessing your inventory or casting signs without pausing really improve the moment-to-moment experience. Herb gathering on horseback is a simple but great addition too!

How can you upgrade existing copies?

The exact steps for upgrading depends a bit on your platform, but the process is straightforward:

On PlayStation:

  1. Insert your PS4 game disc into a PS5 console.
  2. Navigate to the game hub and select the PS5 upgrade offer.
  3. Download and install the PS5 version of the game.

On Xbox:

  1. Insert your Xbox One disc into an Xbox Series X/S.
  2. Find the game in your library and choose the free next-gen upgrade offer.
  3. Download the Series X/S optimized version.

On PC:

  1. Open your existing PC platform like Steam, GOG, Epic Games, etc.
  2. The Witcher 3 will auto-update itself to the enhanced edition.
  3. For platforms without auto-update, manually download the upgrade.

Once installed, the next-gen version will replace your old one so you only need the latest files. And your save progress carries right over!

Do you also get free upgraded DLC?

Along with the core game, all of The Witcher 3‘s DLC gets enhanced for free too if you already own it.

This includes major expansions like Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine, which practically double the gameplay.

Plus smaller DLC like new quests, armor sets, game modes, and weapons also get visually upgraded to next-gen standards for free.

However, keep in mind this only applies to DLC content you already purchased. To get brand new DLC, you‘d need to buy it separately.

But upgrading any DLC you already have is bundled with the free core game update!

Can you transfer your saved games?

Absolutely! All your existing save files and progress will carry over after upgrading to the enhanced edition.

Your save data is backward compatible and will be detected automatically:

  • On PlayStation, PS4 save files work directly on PS5.
  • On Xbox, cloud saves sync between generations automatically.
  • On PC, your save location will remain the same.

Hours and hours of Witcher 3 progress won‘t be lost. You can jump right back in where you left off with all the next-gen benefits!

Is the free upgrade time limited?

Nope – CD Projekt Red has confirmed the upgrade offer is permanent with no deadline.

Whether you upgrade to the next-gen edition on day one or years later, you‘ll always be able to get it for free if you already own the base game.

There is no cutoff date or expiry for the free upgrade program. Take your time and enjoy it whenever you feel like replaying The Witcher 3!

Can I play a disc copy on PS5 Digital Edition?

For PS4 disc owners wondering about playing on an all-digital PS5, yes the upgrade process works on PS5 Digital Edition consoles too!

When you redeem the PS5 upgrade on a Digital Edition, the PS4 disc will still be required just once initially to verify you own the game.

After that, you can play the PS5 digital version without ever needing the disc again. Handy for going all-digital!

How does the upgrade impact mods?

For the PC version, upgrading to the new edition can affect installed mods for The Witcher 3.

Many popular mods have already been updated by their creators to work properly with the remaster. But some may still cause crashes or issues.

I‘d advise PC players to check for compatibility notes on mods before upgrading. Some cleanup of outdated mods may be required after moving to the new version.

The Witcher 3 next-gen upgrade – By the numbers

To provide some additional context on the scale of improvements in this long-awaited upgrade, here are some key stats:

  • +60 FPS – Average frame rate boosted from 30 FPS to 60 FPS on new consoles
  • 4X faster – Load times improved by up to 4X on PS5 and Xbox Series X
  • +500 meters – Rendering distance increased by up to 500 meters for farther views
  • 10 million – Number of concurrent players as of Dec 2022, many awaiting this upgrade
  • 35 awards – Original number of Game of the Year awards won by Witcher 3
  • 8 years – Length of time since initial launch back in May 2015
  • Over 200 – Total number of Game of the Year awards ultimately won by The Witcher 3

For additional context, The Witcher 3 has seen a steady resurgence lately in anticipation of the next-gen update:

  • Concurrent players on Steam jumped 5X from 4,000 to over 20,000 right after the upgrade announcement.
  • The Witcher Netflix show drove renewed interest, with the game hitting new all-time player count highs in late 2022.
  • GOG gave away the base game for free in September 2022, adding many new owners eligible for the free next-gen upgrade.

Clearly this is an eagerly anticipated overhaul for one of gaming‘s most beloved open world titles. And existing owners get to enjoy it at no extra cost!

The verdict on the free upgrade

As someone who put over 100 hours into the original version on PS4, this next-gen upgrade is nothing short of a dream come true.

It makes The Witcher 3 look, feel, and play better than ever before on modern hardware. I honestly can‘t imagine a more substantial or worthwhile free upgrade.

The visual enhancements and performance boosts bring this classic fully up to modern standards. It‘s incredible that existing owners get all these benefits at zero extra cost.

For new players curious about finally diving into The Witcher 3, I‘d say the Complete Edition is easily worth purchasing for $49.99 to experience this masterpiece fully remastered.

But for returning fans like myself, being able to continue my adventures in a massively improved version of the game I love for free is a real treat.

If you‘ve been waiting for an excuse to replay this open world masterpiece, the next-gen upgrade is practically essential. Don‘t miss out!



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