No one thought The Witcher 3 was possible on Nintendo Switch, but CD Projekt Red and Saber Interactive made it happen. The port is excellent, as no content has been cut and the graphics, while not as good as on the other platforms, holds particularly well. Things weren’t so good in the begin, however.
Saber Interactive CEO Matthew Karch recently talked with GamesBeat about what had to be done to get the game running properly on the Switch. Ther initial port had a lot of technical issues, and it ran at 10 FPS and used more resources that are available on the console.
Stripping down things like NPC count was not an option, as it would have made the game very different, so Saber Interactive had to come out with some new solutions to improve performance. These solutions involve shadows and vegetation mostly.
The solution used for shadows is particularly impressive, as the team managed to change the way the engine calculates them with little to no impact on the visuals.
Shadows are obviously essential for creating a realistic look for huge outdoor levels, but the off-the-shelf solution was prohibitively expensive on Switch. We had to combine a blend of static shadowmap, terrain lightmap, and dynamic shadowmap to achieve a similar look to the original.
The Witcher 3 is now available on Nintendo Switch as well as on PC and other consoles. The Switch release comes complete with all the additional content released after launch, making it a Definitive Edition as it is on the other platforms.