The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is nearly here, and critics have been pouring praise upon CD Projekt Red's open world RPG for its challenging combat, stunning visuals and captivating story.
That isn't stopping some fans, however, from speaking up about a few differences in the finished product and the version of Witcher 3 revealed back in 2013.
One fan took to Imgur to compile comparison screenshots from the game's initial gameplay reveal trailer to more recent images and videos of the game, complete with notes scribbled over the images to make the point.
Some points are obvious. Take this group of images for example:
Both feature similar scenarios, yet the first image in each set – taken from the 2013 reveal trailer – appears more earthy in tone, with greater depth and nuance. The second pictures are brighter and flatter, and the decreased draw distance is especially noticeable. Unlike its predecessor – which provided atmosphere and detail – the 2015 gameplay version has a less refined look that lacks layering.
The differences are also noticeable when it comes to fire and smoke effects. The burning village scene from the 2013 in-game trailer appears much more detailed than that of the 2015 "Rage and Steel" trailer. Textures and the foliage are more obvious and less sophisticated.
You can go ahead and compare the two trailers below to decide for yourself. First up is the 2013 trailer:
Followed by the game's most recent trailer:
So what happened? It's hard to say. Did the game's visuals get downgraded in order to fit on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4? Was the 2013 gameplay reveal trailer actual gameplay — or more of a target that CD Projekt Red was shooting for?
We may never know for sure. A lot can change in two years, as new problems, limitations and time constraints arise, forcing development teams to make hard choices. Obviously, there will also be major differences between a "hands-off" demo shown in 2013 and the final product that ends up in the hands of gamers.
Ubisoft's Watch Dogs garnered similar attention when it released last year. The initial E3 gameplay reveal featured stunning graphics that had gamers drooling. Whereas the final product released nearly a year later didn't look bad, it didn't measure up to the impressive visuals first shown.
It looks like Witcher 3 may have suffered a similar fate — not that it matters much. By all accounts, the people at CD Projekt Red have a major hit on their hands, regardless of whether the game's visuals don't quite live up to expectations set two years ago.