Opening a new game just doesn’t have the same magic that it once did. After tearing off the cellophane wrapping and opening the box, you are usually greeted with just a disc or cartridge, and maybe a reversible cover and a warning to not stare at the screen for 90 hours straight on a single piece of paper if you’re lucky.
This is especially true of “Standard Editions” of modern games, with which you are meant to feel like you are getting the bare minimum because you didn’t cave to FOMO and opted for an increasingly more expensive edition. Even the Ultimate Editions aren’t that Ultimate these days.
The Witcher 3 on Switch, however, took me back to the golden age of opening a new game box with a sense of wonder, and it was all for the same price that everyone else paid. No catches, just plenty of examples of CD Projekt going the extra mile once again.
The most prominent thing about the case for The Witcher 3 on Switch is that it actually comes with a cardboard sleeve, which will likely just stress out Switch collectors when it comes to organising their shelves. Take the sleeve off and a decently sized paper map immediately brings to mind the days of the PlayStation 2, in which many big games had a pullout to proudly adorn on your wall. Many bedrooms of that era looked like Boy Scouts gone bad with maps of Vice City and San Andreas plastered everywhere, so it’s nice to see CD Projekt keeping that alive.
The goodies don’t stop there, however. I almost collapsed with shock when I discovered the game had a manual, a neat little compendium focusing on the world’s characters and some brief tips. It’s not beefy enough to take to school and read on your lunch break like the “coolest” of us once did, but the fact there’s a manual at all feels quietly wonderful.
Also included in the box are a couple of wolf pendant stickers, as well as a note from CD Projekt to thank you for taking the journey with them. While the Switch might not be the best place to play what is a juggernaut of a game, the fact that its Switch port comes with all DLC (including the previously free add-ons from its initial launch) as standard adds significant value to the portable package.
Having bought the game digitally the first time around on PlayStation 4, I can’t speak for what previous physical editions of The Witcher 3 were like, but it’s reflective of the Switch port itself that the physical edition has also been afforded plenty of attention. This isn’t some half-assed conversion for a quick buck, and while the overall quality obviously suffers, the fact that it can run fairly smoothly makes ports like WWE 2K18 and Ark even more embarrassing.
It’s understandable why publishers stopped including so many freebies with games from both an ecological and economical perspective. The rise of the internet has made manuals less important, and the resources used to create them aren’t maybe as expendable as they once were. It’s always a pleasure to see “the good old days” return in a gaming age where everything is monetised for less value than ever, and The Witcher 3 on Switch is yet more proof that CD Projekt’s become the master of putting the consumer first.
Don’t be surprised to open the case for Cyberpunk 2077 next year and a little droid falls out.