You can usually trust a decent, major PC release to have lots of lovely config file tweaks going for it, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt seems as if it’s well served in that area.

We’ve only just received review code here in IncGamers-land (so expect more Witcher-things this week,) but in the mean-time an extensive Nvidia article about the game’s various options, sliders and values shows just how many bits and pieces you can change in CD Projekt Red’s latest. They have a new driver out for Nvidia cards too.

All the stuff about the standard Witcher 3 settings (and Nvidia special bits) is suitably comprehensive, but it’s the section called “Config File Tweaks” which looks especially interesting for those people hoping to push the game beyond even the in-title ‘Ultra’ settings.

To get started with this type of tweaking, you need to head to ‘C:UsersUSERNAMEDocumentsThe Witcher 3’ and find the user.settings file. Make a backup so you have something to fall back on if you screw something up. You’ll need a text editor to make changes to user.settings (basic Notepad might work, but Nvidia recommend Notepad++) and after you’ve made and saved changes, it’s necessary to go to Properties and set the file to Read-Only.

That’ll stop The Witcher 3 over-writing your new, carefully crafted settings file.

Some of the settings are still pretty enigmatic at this point, but here’s a compilation of what seems to be known so far:

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]

According to Nvidia’s estimations, ‘DynamicDecals’ are something to do with the animated blood from slain monsters. The others are more mysterious – which is clearly an invitation to play around with them. ‘DecalsChance’ should increase the chance of them spawning, and SpawnDistanceCutoff sounds like it’ll allow you to keep them spawning even when Geralt is further away.

MaxVisibilityDepth= [Ultra value: 24]

Nvidia’s guide says increasing this value doesn’t do anything. If you want to increase the number of trees visible on distant horizons, the tweak you actually want is this one.

FoliageDistanceScale= [Ultra value: 1]

Pushing this value up a little bit (to 3-6) will mean “the addition of extra detail on distant trees, and an increase of fidelity on leaves and smaller branches.” However, it also has a pretty massive performance cost. Beefy PCs only need apply.

Grass has a similar ultra-costly tweak.

GrassDistanceScale= [Ultra value: 1]
GrassGenerationEfficiency= [Default value: 0.075] – Increases amount of grass when value reduced
GrassDensity= [Ultra value: 2400]

Again, the Nvidia piece experiments with DistanceScale values between 3 and 6. They suggest leaving it closer to 3 for a nice improvement in grass variety and rendering distance, without the absurd performance cost of setting it to 6. Mind you, they’re also using systems with Titan X cards, so even 3 might be beyond most mortal PCs.

They experimented with GrassDensity up to 4800, but found this resulted in a “loss of foliage variety.” 3600 was the recommended upper limit here.

CascadeShadowFadeTreshold= [Ultra Value: 1] – Decrease the value to improve the maximum view distance of shadows.
CascadeShadowDistanceScale0= [Ultra Value: 1] – Increase the value to improve the quality of close-range shadows.
CascadeShadowDistanceScale1= [Ultra Value: 1] – Increase the value to improve the quality and visibility of close and medium-range shadows.
CascadeShadowDistanceScale2= [Ultra Value: 1.5] – Increase the value to improve the quality and visibility of distant shadows.
MaxTerrainShadowAtlasCount= [Ultra Value: 4] – Increase the value to potentially improve the quality of terrain shadows.
CascadeShadowmapSize= [Ultra Value: 3072] – Increase the value to slightly improve the fidelity of shadows.
CascadeShadowQuality= [Ultra Value: 1] – Increase the value to slightly improve the fidelity of shadows.

Nvidia really did the leg work on these, so their descriptions should prove very useful in deciding whether to change any of these values. There’s a shadow setting for foliage/trees too.

FoliageShadowDistanceScale= [Ultra Value: 54] – Increase the value to enable a few extra trees, bushes, and grass clumps to cast shadows.

Naturally, the more of these you bump upwards, the higher the performance cost will be. As with most of these, it’s probably only worth it if your PC is laughing off the default ‘Ultra’ settings.

The Nvidia piece investigated the following values as well, but found no differences or benefits when they were changed. These ones might be hard-coded at the moment.

TextureStreamingCharacterDistanceLimit= [Default Value: 50]
TextureStreamingHeadsDistanceLimit= [Default Value: 10]
TextureStreamingDistanceLimit= [Default Value: 40000]

If you have the necessary power, it looks well worth making some of these tweaks. Nvidia has posted up comparative examples from an outdoor, foliage-heavy scene, and a city scene.

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