Witcher franchise: how to enjoy

Essential tips and tricks for Witcher games. Spoiler-free!

published 2023-Mar-20, updated 2023-Aug-25


The in-universe events happen in this order, and should be read and played in the same order.


I can highly recommend the Russian version of the book. The original is in Polish, which should be comparable. I haven't tried the English version, or "Season of Storms" or any later works, and can't vouch for their quality.

Look for an EPUB version and use a decent reader. Avoid unusable formats like PDF.

Witcher 1

It's been a long time since I played it, so my ability to provide advice is limited to the following:

Witcher 2

Witcher 3

Check the game's page on PC Gaming Wiki and follow its recommendations. Also read forth. The rest of this article is all about Witcher 3.


At the time of writing, Witcher 3 has a "classic edition" (CE, version 1.32) and a "next gen" edition (NGE, version 4+). Steam installs NGE by default, but also allows to choose CE. I've played only NGE, and have no opinion on CE. The mods listed below are all compatible with NGE. Some of them may not exist for CE.


Launch Flags

After switching from DX12 to DX11, disable the launcher by adding --launcher-skip to the game's launch flags.

Config Tweaks

Check the PCGW article to find the location of the user.settings file for your system and game version. Note that when running DX12, you would be using the file dx12user.settings, but you should really switch to DX11 for better performance. When editing this file, you can simply append entries. The game reorders the content automatically.

By default, the game has extremely obnoxious videos on the loading screen. Add the following to disable them.


Add the following to enable the console. Afterwards, it can be summoned by the ~ key, unless you change the key by editing config files. See console tips below.



This section may seem daunting, but trust me, modding the game is well worth the effort!

Most mods can be installed and updated via Vortex, the mod manager from Nexus. I've been using Vortex without issues. However, the authors of Witcher 3 mods tend to recommend against Vortex, and in favor of the Witcher 3 Mod Manager, which I haven't tried.

Some mods require manual install. Some require additional tweaks in input.settings. Some require invoking the Menu Filelist Updater which is listed below. Check each mod's description for setup instructions.

Potentially interesting mods that I haven't tried:

Misc Tips

When starting a new game, either import a Witcher 2 save (if you've made the right choices), or choose "do simulate Witcher 2 save". If you choose the latter, at some point in Witcher 3 you will be questioned to determine various Witcher 2 choices that have an effect in Witcher 3.

Disable tutorial popups ASAP. You'll learn the game just fine without them, and I personally found them extremely obnoxious. They also break the tourney horse race in B&W.

Ignore damage numbers in skill tooltips. Damage of Signs scales with enemy health (current health for Aard, maximum health for other Signs). Tooltips always lie. Experiment with everything.

You get less XP for lower-level enemies and quests. My suggestion: don't think about it. You'll end up at roughly the same maximum level regardless of completion order. The developers did this to prevent overleveling, which would make combat too easy and less fun.

As soon as is practical, raise combat and Gwent difficulty to max. Makes things more interesting.

Combat Tips

Use the Fleet Footed ability, and learn when to use small dodge (default Alt) and when to use dodge roll (default Space). Both are extremely useful.

Loading screen tips tell you that light armor is best for stamina regen. This is misleading. Medium armor with Griffin School Techiques is far better for stamina regen.

Fighting multiple opponents may feel very different from fighting one. They don't coordinate attacks and may attack from offscreen. This forces you to dodge or parry more often, making combat significantly slower. Learn to enjoy this. Prolonging combat is a positive rather than a negative, because it makes transitions between ambient and combat music less grating on the ears. Many combat tracks in Witcher 3 can be annoying at the start, especially if heard frequently, but eventually pick up and become interesting. Long combat makes the music better.

Initially, Signs are underwhelming. Their effects are weak and stamina regen is slow. However, Signs become extremely strong with high Sign intensity and stamina regen, obtainable later in the game via slottable greater mutagens, HoS enchants, B&W mutations, Grandmaster Griffin gear. A magic-oriented build has been my favorite in multiple New Game+ playthroughs.


See config tweaks for enabling the console. Also see this outdated but still useful reference: https://commands.gg/witcher3. Some particularly useful commands are highlighted below.

Console: Gwent

The following command adds almost every Gwent card, in its maximum total obtainable amount:



Console: Beard



Maximum beard:



Witcher 1 and Witcher 2 can feel like a slog when backtracking or otherwise running around, with no ingame way to speed that up. Speedhacks are highly recommended. See my post on speedhacking.