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The Witcher 3's Xbox One X patch delivers in spades

The Witcher 3’s enhanced Xbox One X patch gives us more than we expected. Two new options are added with this update: a 4K mode that puts the emphasis on hitting a native 3840×2160 at 30 frames per second, falling back on dynamic resolution scaling to ensure a consistent gameplay experience. But the real surprise is the inclusion of a performance mode that prioritises 60fps gameplay, albeit at a much lower pixel-count. On paper, CD Projekt Red’s latest release should be the definitive console release, but just how does the package on Xbox One X stand up to the recently released PS4 Pro patch?

Let’s talk numbers. The 4K mode is ambitious when considering a standard Xbox One largely ran the game at 1600×900. In Xbox One X’s case we’re getting a huge boost in pixels rendered with this mode, and even though it’s capped at a familiar 30fps ceiling, the engine is capable of hitting 3840×2160 in less taxing areas. Look to the sky, wander around interiors, or explore less GPU-intensive environments, and the game has never looked sharper. However, the catch is that resolution drops in more intensive areas. As an example, galloping around the notorious Crookback Bog – an area renowned for its impact on performance – sees the image resolve to a lower 3200×1800.

Regardless, the result is impressive. While there’s a scope for it to go even lower (there’s literally a huge open world here with a multitude of possible tests), an 1800p to 2160p range still falls within a perceptual threshold in delivering a superb result on 4K display. By contrast, PS4 Pro makes use of a checkerboard method to push its own 4K image. Side-by-side with X’s native output, the checkerboarding technique still works brilliantly, and the only real downside here is a faint stippling effect on moving edges, largely hidden by the game’s motion blur.

Another curious quirk of PS4 Pro’s approach is an apparent lack of post-process anti-aliasing added to the pipeline, meaning coverage on tree outlines is often left raw. Compared to Xbox One X, which adds an extra pass to these elements for a cleaner (if softer) frame, it puts Microsoft’s console in pole position in terms of image quality, but the truth is that owners of both mid-gen refresh consoles get great results for their UHD displays, with super-sampling in place for 1080p users.