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The Witcher 3: Graphical Hullabaloo

By WskOsc11-05-2015

Witcher 3 Comparison Shot

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is almost upon us and is already courting fans ire over a so-called graphical downgrade. The NeoGAF forums play host to an extensive set of comparison shots between earlier “in-game” images and newer “actually from when someone played the game” images. There's no denying that there's a huge graphical difference in the images and many are calling it out as a graphical downgrade for the game.

Some of the newer images are labelled as “ultra” settings and have been taken from recent gameplay events where press and youtubers have had hands-on time with the game. While we can't deny that they look worse than the earlier shots, we also can't verify the integrity of the sources of these images or the claims made about them so I'd urge some caution when considering this.

It's a well known practice that developers and publishers use what's commonly referred to as “bullshots” in marketing material such as early trailers and screenshots. Usually bullshots are presented as actual in-game footage but are actually manipulated images or CG trailers (often not even made in the same engine as the game). Notable examples of this have been Killzone 2's E3 reveal and more recently Watch_Dogs.

With this in mind we've got two ways of looking at the graphical disparity: it's either a graphical downgrade, assets and effects reduced to make the game reach performance targets at cost of visual fidelity or other reasons. Or, it's the opposite – not a downgrade for the game but rather an upgrade for the trailers and screenshots – the aforementioned “bullshots” which pervade this aspect of the industry. Or it could be neither and the more recent shots could be not what they claim to be, we really can't state it enough that we simply don't know yet.

I'll leave it to you to decide whether this is ill informed fans crying wolf and misunderstood marketing materials or a bait and switch by CD Projekt RED. The truth will out next Tuesday when we have the game in our own hands. Lets end on a more upbeat note; The Witcher 3 has reached 1 million pre-orders world wide which is a spectacular achievement even for a property as big as The Witcher. Feel free to pop on over to their twitter and give them a pat on the back.

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