I love Nintendo Switch ports. They often provide the perfect opportunity to replay past games or experience releases I missed, while allowing you to take those games with you on the go. We’ve seen some really exceptional examples of this over the last few years, with veritable coding wizards able to get modern games like Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and The Witcher III running better on the console than many of us could have never imagined. Unfortunately, there have been a few games which have really struggled to perform under the Nintendo Switch’s limited capabilities. The Outer Worlds sits somewhere in the middle.
Now, I feel it’s important that I mention that this is a complete The Outer Worlds experience. No content is cut out and all the game’s branching narratives and its numerous outcomes are there to be experienced in the palm of your hand. It’s a deeply systemic game that provides the player with a uniquely personal experience by bending to your choices and decisions, so while The Outer Worlds may look simplistic on the surface, there is a lot going on under the hood.
With this in mind, The Outer Worlds does not perform well on Switch at all. Anti-aliasing, texture resolution, foliage density and character models are all significantly scaled down to ensure this mammoth of a game can run on the Switch’s hardware. What you’re left with is a game that feels almost unrecognisable in comparison to the PC version. My initial experience playing The Outer Worlds on PC at a steady 60fps feels like a distant fever dream while playing it on Switch.
Dense cities like Edgewater are left feeling barren, fuzzy and jarring, while the lush forestry of the general world – the Botanical Lab more specifically – feels sparse. It’s a necessary, but unfortunate cutback that undermines The Outer Worlds’ absolutely stunning art design. The narrative focus also unfortunately means you will also spend a lot of time looking at the stripped back character models which lack a lot of the detail found in the home console and PC versions.
While the graphical cutbacks are pretty severe, it would have made a lot of sense if the tradeoff was a solid framerate, but this is another area in which the port falls short. The individual towns really take a hit on the performance front, dropping to 15fps at points while also rarely going above 20fps. The game does occasionally hit it’s target of 30fps, but it usually happens out in the wastes where very little is going on.
I’m often one to forgive framerate issues on the Switch, but in a first-person shooter it can really obstruct the flow of combat. Unfortunately, firefights really struggle to keep up the pace, which can make aiming accurately and reactively very difficult when the frames start dropping. In most cases, you end up switching to a melee weapon and swinging blindly in the hope you’ll defeat the closest marauder to you. It certainly isn’t quite unplayable, but it again really struggles to match the experience you’ll get on consoles and PC.
Fortunately, The Outer Worlds is such a strong game that I still found myself having a lot of fun. I’ve already done every single side quest in Edgewater and Botanical Labs as I’ve been able to chip away at it during baby feeds or play it for short bursts at a time while going about my numerous daily responsibilities. Performance issues aside, this is a phenomenal game, giving us the Fallout 4 experience that Fallout 4 never quite managed to deliver. If anything, The Outer Worlds port has got me yearning for a Fallout 3 or Fallout New Vegas port for the Nintendo Switch – I would play the heck out of them!
The Switch port does bring with it the inclusion of motion controls for those who want to make their playthrough a little more physical. While it isn’t quite as snappy and clean as in Call of Jaurez: Gunslinger or Sniper Elite III, The Outer Worlds can be quite fun once you play around with the sensitivity and find a balance that works for you.