On the face of it, the notion of Nintendo Switch internet hosting a conversion of CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt appears virtually ridiculous. The unique launch pushed the current-gen consoles laborious and the notion of the sport transitioning throughout to a considerably much less highly effective mobile-orientated platform virtually beggars perception. And but, the rumours surrounding a Switch port are gathering tempo: Chinese retailers have proven packaging and even a particular version console, and when Eurogamer approached CDPR in regards to the sport, the agency declined to remark when faulty rumours may have been categorically dominated out. Nothing is confirmed, however the risk stays open – and I could not assist however marvel how such an bold port could possibly be achieved.
Of course, the Switch itself has performed host to plenty of spectacular technological showcases, and it has accomplished so since launch with the arrival of Fast RMX – a vastly spectacular work-out for the Tegra X1. But the notion of difficult current-gen fare receiving viable Switch ports actually kicked off with the arrival of Doom 2016, translated throughout to the cell chipset by the sensible Panic Button, who’ve since impressed us nonetheless additional with conversions of Wolfenstein: The New Colossus and Warframe. Other builders have pushed Switch laborious too, with QLOC’s spectacular Hellblade port and Shiver’s Mortal Kombat 11 bringing current-gen console experiences into the palm of your hand.
The Witcher 3 although? The scale of this challenge is a category aside: we would be trying on the conversion of a large sport that challenges on many ranges. First of all, there’s the idea of bringing a current-gen open world throughout from techniques with considerably extra CPU energy and much more reminiscence. Then there’s the density of the visuals – The Witcher 3 delivers a really wealthy sandbox inside which to play. And lastly, there’s the problem of reminiscence bandwidth: the PC model of the sport (doubtless the key donor in the direction of a possible Switch port) actually does like bandwidth, and Switch is considerably restricted there.
When I first performed Doom 2016 on Switch, I questioned how Panic Button had managed to ship this conversion – so I constructed a low-power PC with some commonalities with Switch . Nvidia’s GT 1030 graphics card options 384 CUDA cores vs Switch’s 256, and with some insane underclocking, we may get an approximate match for its compute energy. CPU-wise, I selected (maybe satirically) low-power AMD Jaguar cores rather than Tegra X1’s ARM cluster. By introducing harsh constraints, we may see Doom 2016 port could be viable by halving the frame-rate and stripping again visible options to the minimal. Panic Button tailor-made the expertise nonetheless additional for Switch and launched dynamic decision (and primarily based on current assessments, plainly Nintendo helped out with dynamic GPU clocks too).
But may the identical configuration get the Witcher 3 working? Well, I might say that the proof is way much less clear-cut this time round. Initial experiments at 720p decision on a low graphics preset yielded outcomes from a horrible sub-20fps replace that settled extra into the low 20s. The expertise does not work as a result of it is so variable, and what’s immediately obvious is that CPU energy, GPU compute and reminiscence bandwidth limitations all play their half in presenting a sequence of profound bottlenecks that may manifest at any given level. The Doom 2016 expertise on this PC confirmed Switch port could possibly be accomplished, whereas repeating the train on The Witcher 3 solely served to reveal the extraordinary challenges in porting this title to Tegra X1.
I tweaked the PC setup after these preliminary assessments, stacking the deck extra in my favour. Some of the restricted CPU energy I had was being sucked up by Windows, DX11 and the GPU driver – points that may current far much less of a difficulty on Switch. Moving over to a extra succesful CPU, there was extra stability in attaining 30fps – and now I may get a greater give attention to the GPU and reminiscence bandwidth challenges. A 576p native decision helped to handle the GPU compute limitation, however the GDDR5 reminiscence could not be underclocked sufficient to simulate Switch with out kicking into what I believe is a low-power mode of simply 810MHz, leading to a frame-rate slideshow. The subsequent step up bandwidth-wise was an virtually lavish 2500MHz (far past Switch’s capabilities) and clearly efficiency improved massively consequently. I nonetheless do not assume the reminiscence bandwidth query has been answered, however sufficient information factors have been accessible to attract some conclusions in regards to the viability of a Witcher 3 Switch port.
First of all, the principle optimistic to attract from that is that when offered with extremely constrained , The Witcher 3 may nonetheless run – one thing that does not apply to all PC titles I’ve tried as well on this method. Secondly, whereas 576p on low settings (with some additional foliage and shadow tweaks within the .ini) is not precisely a visible showcase, it’s nonetheless recognisably The Witcher 3. Both of this stuff do recommend that the sport is inherently scalable sufficient to get one thing worthwhile operating on the Nintendo hybrid – particularly when way more tweakables can be found to the developer beneath the hood of the RED engine.
But there’s additionally the sense that quite a lot of work could be wanted to stabilise efficiency to a constant stage. The Witcher 3’s lush foliage and alpha-heavy areas like Crookback Bog push bandwidth laborious – a commodity that is in extraordinarily quick provide on Switch – whereas the CPU burden in locations like Novigrad (even on the bottom settings) is appreciable. And how would a potential port deal with the graphics burden making an allowance for Switch’s restricted compute energy? Well, on this respect, a template has been established: dynamic decision scaling (already current on Xbox One) together with temporal super-sampling has been a relentless think about getting these ‘unimaginable’ Switch ports playable at acceptable frame-rates.
It’s a large problem then however we will not low cost the standard CDPR persistently delivers – and naturally, the studio has already confirmed the way it can adapt its content material to run on console, as we have seen with the exceptional Xbox 360 conversion of The Witcher 2 again within the day. To make this challenge viable, CDPR re-architected key elements of the RED engine and re-authored a lot of the content material. That stated, we all know that the studio is focussed on the brand new Cyberpunk 2077, which many imagine will ship someday subsequent yr. The Witcher 2 on Xbox 360 was a studio-wide effort and that is extremely unlikely to be the case with a possible Switch Witcher 3 port, which is more likely to be a collaboration with an exterior studio.
Of course, that is all ‘in idea’ – and regardless of the mounting proof suggesting that one thing could be taking place, there is not any precise assure that the sport even exists proper now. But stripping again PC to the naked minimal and seeing simply how a lot of The Witcher 3 expertise might be retained has been an gratifying expertise – and what it clearly demonstrates is simply how a lot of a problem such a port would characterize to even essentially the most gifted of Switch builders. And if it is actually taking place, and if it is as spectacular as a number of the different current-gen Switch ports, it will be a shocking achievement for a mobile-orientated piece of .