IntroductionIt's been a great Summer for PC gamers so far; starting with last month's epic release of "Grand Theft Auto V," the slick and well-packaged standalone DLC "Wolfenstein: The Old Blood," the photo-realistic Motorsport sim "Project Cars," and now the biggest from the action RPG genre, "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt." The third installment in the smash-hit fantasy-action role-playing genre, "Wild Hunt" is set in an open-world sandbox with a total map area its developer CD Projekt RED says to be 30 times as big as in previous games of the franchise.
The large open-world environment is filled with stunning, wild landscapes full of lurking dangers. You get around either on foot, on horseback, or on a boat. Although released as a multi-platform title, with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 being the other platforms, where the game is critically acclaimed to be the best-looking on the new consoles, it's the PC version that offers the best eye-candy and gameplay. The game received the GameWorks varnish by NVIDIA, which adds a few features that work on all graphics cards, like PhysX (on the CPU), NVIDIA Hairworks, and NVIDIA HBAO+. Since RedEngine 3 is incompatible with hardware anti-aliasing (MSAA), CD Projekt Red has developed their own post-process anti-aliasing method, which is not unsimilar to FXAA and comes with a relatively small performance hit.
In this mini-review we put "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt" through today's performance-segment, high-end, and enthusiast-grade graphics setups. In the performance-segment (using a PC you can build for under $999), we have NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 960 and AMD's Radeon R9 285. In the high-end (a build under $1500), we have the GTX 970 and GTX 980 from NVIDIA and the R9 290 and R9 290X from AMD. The enthusiast-segment (build under $2000) sees the GTX Titan X and R9 295X2 slug it out. The game is tested across four resolutions: 1600x900 (Xbox One resolution), 1920x1080 (PlayStation 4 resolution), 2560x1440, and 4K Ultra HD (3840x2160).