The Witcher 3 next-gen update released last month introduced a lot of new features and quality-of-life improvements, but unfortunately also removed some options, like HBAO+, which are generally considered to be some of the best ambient occlusion options, not counting the ray-tracing of ambient occlusion. Developer CD Projekt Red has not commented on the removal of the option, but a custom mod reverted it to the DirectX 11 version of the game.
According to the Nukem mod, who released the HBAO Plus mod on Nexus Mods, the ambient lock option still applies in the game, and it seems that its unavailability was made easy by the developer, so it’s possible that its removal was not intentional. Model also revealed that XeGTAO (Ground Reality Occlusion Ambient) could be added to The Witcher 3 in the future.
Q: How does this patch work?
A. HBAO+ is still implemented in the game code. I made a jump patch to enable it forcefully. There is no user-facing option to enable HBAO+ and that is likely an oversight on the part of CDPR, rather than something malicious.
Q: Do you plan to do anything else in the future?
c. If time permits, I’ll try to add support for XeGTAO (Intel’s Earth Reality Surrounding Occlusion). It is assumed that this is the modern non-RT AO algorithm. I don’t have a time frame.
The creator of The Witcher 3 HBAO Plus mod has also confirmed that they will not be porting the mod to the DirectX 12 version of the game because it would be too much work due to the changes CDPR made to their renderer.
No, I’m not porting this to the DX12 version of the game. CDPR has refactored its renderer and I will have to manually reverse engineer and re-implement all HBAO+ related code. It’s not worth the non-trivial amount of work. DX11 is simple because you can easily toggle the on/off variable.
A lot of The Witcher 3 mods have been shared online after the release of the next generation update. Among them is one that unlocks Photo Mod for snapshots, ray tracing improvements and improvements, new camera options, and others.
The Witcher 3 is now available on PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch worldwide. New content introduced in the next generation update will be released in the future on previous generation consoles and Nintendo Switch in the future.