When there’s a will – and millions of consoles sold – there’s a way to seemingly port anything to the Nintendo Switch. Following the likes of Rocket League, Doom, and The Witcher 3 among many third party titles that we once thought weren’t technically feasible or financially viable, Overwatch and its iconic cast of heroes push their way onto the Nintendo Switch. Better late than never?
Originally released in 2016, Overwatch is a team-based first person shooter. Players will take on the roles of sharply-defined characters; each who have their own unique weapons and abilities while falling into one-of-three categories: tanks, DPS, and healers. Working together in teams of six, players attempt to complete their objectives while the other attempts to stop them.
One of my favourite aspects of Overwatch is that the game deemphasizes the importance of eliminating your opposition. Yes, kills help, but a high K/D ratio is moot if your team fails to push the payload across the map. Teamwork is key if you want to win.
Further amplifying the importance of teamwork are the game’s now-iconic cast of heroes. Featuring brilliant designs visually and mechanically, each character has been crafted with obvious strengths and weaknesses. For example, Mercy can quickly heal her allies, but her pistol is so weak that she’s an offensive liability. Hanzo can one-shot a number of enemies with an arrow to the head, but struggles mightily in close encounters. D. Va is a mobile tank with a limited-use shield that can block almost anything, but her primary gun does very little damage. As such, you’ll need to create synergy with your teammates to round out your squad’s overall performance.
Almost everything that makes Overwatch great is maintained on the Switch. All of the characters and modes are here. The game is updated at the same time as the PC and other console versions. You can still quickly create parties and play with your friends. Though I didn’t have much luck getting it to work, the game also has built-in voice chat. It even adds motion controls; a feature popularized on Nintendo platforms by Splatoon.
Since this version came out, it’s been the one I play the most by virtue of virtue of convenience. I can get a pretty close approximation of my all-time favourite shooter while also being able to play it anywhere in my house. In portable mode, the differences between it and its counterparts shrinks even further. However, the devil is in the details.
In order for the game to run on the Nintendo Switch, some notable compromises have been made to the games graphics. Geometry is simplified and character textures appear blurry. Certain characters and skins are more impacted by this than others. Generally speaking, it looks okay for a Switch game, but no one will mistake it for its PC or console brethren.
Most jarring is the game’s 50% reduction in frame rate. Running at a mostly-steady 30 frames per second, the change in fluidity is noticeable. If you play Overwatch seriously, this is going to be a deal-breaker. As a casual player, it doesn’t matter nearly as much. After a few minutes, I get into the groove and the difference doesn’t matter.
That said, there are moments where it still matters. When I play as Ashe, I love to throw my dynamite into a crowd and shoot it in midair, burning every enemy within range. Performing this action is a lot harder on the Switch version, partially because of that cut in frames. Worse yet, the fame rate will dip below 30 during particularly hectic moments when there’s a lot going on. While its closest competitor on Switch – Paladins – isn’t exactly a technical marvel, it manages to run at 60 frames per second, making gameplay identical across all versions.
Overwatch on the Nintendo Switch is the definitive worst way to play. But does that actually matter? It depends. If you really want to play Blizzard’s hero shooter in a portable format and are willing to accept the graphical downgrades, you’re still getting one of the best shooters around. It will also support the Overwatch 2 upgrade coming next year, ensuring that this game will continue to receive support for years to come. Being able to play this game on the couch while my wife and I watch 90 Day Fiance has made it worth my while. However, if you have the option of playing it elsewhere and don’t mind being tethered to a TV or monitor, you’re better off without the Switch version.
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