Bethesda’s early forays onto the Nintendo Switch have been great to see. Of all the major publishers, their efforts have been the most straightforward and by extension the most ambitious, taking games originally designed for and released on home consoles and shrinking them down to fit the hybrid Switch. So how does the Switch’s 6.2” BJ hold up compared to PS4 and Xbox One?
Much like the Doom port last year, the answer is that it works surprisingly well, but is full of compromises. It’s the game’s cinematic focus that brings those compromises to the forefront. All of the pre-rendered cinematics are heavily compressed, certainly, but use the highest detail models and post-processing that MachineGames possibly could. Quite often these go from fairly close up camera angles to BJ’s point of view in the same scene, meaning you shift from close up high quality models to the scaled back assets on Switch. There’s a very, very clear divide between what’s pre-rendered and what’s running on Switch, and that’s something that gamers aren’t all that used to anymore.
However, the game is still packed full of detail in the moment to moment gameplay. Look too closely at some of the more incidental details, like fire extinguishers or the wood grain on a stereotypical video game crate, and you’ll see that they’re fairly blurry, but there’s a lot of this detail to take in and when put together in the environments as a whole it comes together very nicely to preserve the look and feel that the game has on other platforms. The way that level of detail scales as you move through the environment is well managed and only on a few occasions in the first couple hours of the game did it become really apparent to me that shadows or detail were being loaded in as I approached.
The lighting really helps to preserve this look, and the game still feels very effects heavy, from the cloud of sparks you can turn enemies into with the lazerkraftwerk through to the full on motion blur. Whether running docked and handheld, the resolution scaling means the game often runs noticeably less than native resolution and look blurry as a result. While still images highlight this drop in resolution and added blurriness – the gallery above is for the game while docked, while the one below is from handheld mode – the game in motion feels better.
In order to preserve that look, Panic Button have had to forsake the 60fps goal that the game has on home console and gone instead for 30fps. Thankfully, the weightier character movement and the more considered, stealthier approach to combat all goes a long way to making up for that step backward, but it’s a frame rate that the Switch held to well through the first few levels.
Having been patched into the Switch version of Doom after release, it’s no surprise to see that Wolfenstein II also supports aiming via motion controls. This can be tweaked to your preference, either going full Splatoon 2 with high sensitivity, or adjusting that sensitivity downward so that it’s more like the aftertouch aiming that fans of Uncharted: Golden Abyss enjoyed on PlayStation Vita. It’s a great feature to have and one that should be standard on all shooters for Switch.
The second of two games that Bethesda promised for Nintendo’s console Panic Button have been able to take the work done for Doom and build on it for their follow up port. However, as we said with that port last year, it’s difficult to know quite who this game is for. You’ll get a much more rounded and consistent experience on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, and those are systems designed to accommodate 50GB installs. Wolfenstein II weighs in at 21GB to download on Nintendo Switch, but even buying the game on cartridge will require an SD card, and games this big often put a strain on your console’s storage.
While we’d still recommend the game on other platforms, having Wolfenstein II as an option on Nintendo Switch is still great, and this is another strong port to the hybrid console by Panic Button, preserving much of the look and feel of the original. The biggest positive is that now you can punch Nazis wherever you go.