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The Witcher 3 PC Tweaks Guide – Improve Graphics and Performance
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s powerful REDengine 3 demands a lot from the average PC, but due to the extra tinkering and adjustment availability for this platform, you have the option of tweaking your game to suit your system’s settings in the best manner.
If you are experiencing game-breaking bugs, check our The Witcher 3 Crash Fixes.
The Witcher 3 PC Tweaks
There are two ways to go about doing this: the conventional in-game settings, and the more complex, command-based user settings file. We’ll have a look at both types of graphics tweaking in this guide, starting off with the in-game settings.
Note: Only the in-game settings that are detrimental to performance have been listed below. These options should hold utmost priority.
Though extremely attractive looking, Nvidia HairWorks is probably the setting to have the biggest impact on frame-rates. Depending on your GPU, turning off this setting can improve the performance by as much as 20 frame-rates.
Ambient Occlusion comes in three options: Off, SSAO, and HBAO+. The final option is the highest quality, but one can improve the frame-rates by reducing it to SSAO or even off. This should get you 5 to 10 frame-rates more.
The Witcher 3’s in-game options don’t allow you to adjust the amount of antialiasing applied in the game, which is why it is best to disable it completely and use a third party application (such as Nvidia Control Panel or AMD Control Center) to achieve the antialiasing effect.
Usually Foliage isn’t a frame-rate dropping setting even for slightly outdated GPUs, but in The Witcher 3 it is the second-most impacting setting after HairWorks. The difference in frame-rates between Ultra and Off settings can be as big as 25 fps. Try lowering this to Medium first, because foliage plays a large role in the general look and feel of the game.
Like any other game, shadows have a major impact on performance and quality. Try lowering the shadows to Medium if you want those extra few fps.
If the in-game settings haven’t really cut it for you, there’s the extra option of being able to tweak the game to improve performance (and even improve visuals) by accessing the settings file.
Warning: Use the file tweaks at your own risk.
In order to access these hidden settings, you will need to access the following: \Documents\The Witcher 3.
In this folder, you should find the user.settings file. Create a backup copy of this file in-case anything goes wrong. Once you’re ready, right click the file and go to Properties. Click “Read-only” and then apply. Once you’ve done that, open this file through Notepad.
Decals are imprints and changes in the environment according to what you do. In case of The Witcher 3, decals largely dictate the blood splatters and also the blood that spills out of slain monsters/enemies. These settings can be adjusted by accessing the following parts of the user.settings file:
DecalsHideDistance= [Ultra value: 80]
DynamicDecalsHideDistance= [Default value: 20]
DimmerHideDistance= [Default value: 60]
StripeHideDistance= [Default value: 60]
SwarmHideDistance= [Default value: 200]
DecalsSpawnDistanceCutoff= [Default value: 10]
DecalsChance= [Default value: 1]
Increasing DecalsChance to 2 or 3 will greatly increase the probability of blood to spill when enemies are hit/killed.
Foliage kills a lot of frame-rates, which is why it’s a good idea to have them at low settings in the game if you’re facing problems. However, if you want an in-between setting, you can customize the foliage settings through the user.settings file by tweaking the following commands:
MaxVisibilityDepth= [Ultra value: 24]
FoliageDistanceScale= [Ultra value: 1]
Tweaking the FoliageDistanceScale to 6 (max) will kill even more frame-rates, while lowering it to a value below 1 will improve performance.
In addition to standard foliage, you can also adjust Grass settings by tinkering with the following command lines:
GrassDistanceScale= [Ultra value: 1]
GrassGenerationEfficiency= [Default value: 0.075]
Like the other settings, increasing the ultra value above 1 (maximum 6) will greatly impact the performance, but will make the grass visible from long distances and with immense detail. It Is recommended to avoid this unless you have some kind of monster PC.
Textures can also be adjusted from the user.settings file. The in-game texture settings do not exactly dictate the texture draw distances and have a limited amount of texture memory budget, which can be increased/decreased from within the file.
For Texture Memory Budget (amount of textures stored in memory):
TextureMemoryBudget= [Ultra Value: 800]
If you have a 4GB card, you can use a value of around 1024 and still have sufficient available memory for remaining operations.
TextureStreamingCharacterDistanceLimit= [Default 50]
TextureStreamingHeadsDistanceLimit= [Default 10]
TextureStreamingDistanceLimit= [Default 40000]
The above three settings dictate how far the textures are drawn. Usually it is a good idea to reduce these distances if you want a few additional frame-rates. For users looking to improve quality, increasing these numbers won’t necessarily bring a noticeable improvement in the visuals.
This is where you want to be doing lots of adjusting, especially if you’re looking to improve performance or improve the shadow quality. The following command lines are worth of your attention:
Ultra value is 1. Decrease the value to improve the maximum view distance of shadows. Increase to improve performance.
Ultra value is 1. Increase the value to improve the quality of close ranged shadows. Decrease to improve performance.
Ultra value is 1. Increase the value to improve the quality of medium ranged shadows. Decrease to improve performance.
Ultra value is 1.5. Increase the value to improve the visibility and quality of further shadows. Decrease to greatly improve performance.
Ultra value is 4. Dictates value to potentially improve the quality of terrain shadows. Decrease the value to improve performance.
Ultra value is 3072. Increase the value to slightly improve shadows details. Decrease value to improve performance.
Ultra value is 1. Increase the value to improve the shadow details. Decrease value to improve performance.
Ultra value is 54. Increasing the value will draw more foliage-casted shadows and improve shadow density. Decreasing value will greatly enhance performance.
The above set of commands individually might get you a couple of extra fps, but the combined effect can improve/kill up to 15 frame-rates.