The Outer Worlds Switch Review: Corporate greed is now handheld
The year is 2355. You, a colonist destined for the Halcyon cluster, wake up from stasis to an unexpected sight: a bedraggled scientist is hurriedly fixing your escape pod so he can shoot you onto the nearest planet, Terra 2.
Your ship, he tells you, was abandoned by the corporate conglomeration that runs this new frontier, and rescuing you was not considered to be a profitable enough venture.
But he’s on a mission to revive your shipmates, oust the corporations and, ultimately, save the colony from inevitable doom.
The Outer Worlds is the latest current-gen game to be ported to the Nintendo Switch.
This means that if you missed this masterpiece of a game when it launched on Xbox One, PS4 and PC back in 2019, this may be your second choice to pick it up.
The original release was met with great critical acclaim — as you’d expect from a game that feels like the spiritual love child of Borderlands and Fallout: New Vegas.
As Johnny said last year, “ Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds feels like a modern-age Fallout title, for better and for worse,” before giving it a respectable 4/5.
The question is does porting this game to the Nintendo Switch make it better or worse?
It’s no secret that the Nintendo Switch doesn’t hold a candle to the other current-gen consoles on the market.
Portability and motion controls can be a great selling point, but any port offering these will need to really up its game if it’s going to try to compete for your hard-earned bits.
Given how recent the original version launched, a downgraded version on the Nintendo Switch is always going to be a hard sell.
So, does the Switch do The Outer Worlds Justice? In a word, no.
The Outer Worlds is a fantastic game; the writing alone is everything that you’d expect and hope for, and the worlds of the Halcyon cluster will inevitably bring a wry smile to your face.
The game does an admirable job of being inclusive too, with a variety of races, genders and sexual orientations in the game that nobody bats an eyelid at — as it should be here on Earth.
I’m not going to contest the quality of the game on the whole.
I am going to contest the hell out of the idea of putting the game on the Nintendo Switch.
The slightly fuzzy elephant in the room is the graphics.
While base game was a joy to look at, with stunning visuals and fantastic world design, the Switch version looks more antiquated than futuristic.
In order to run the game with any real efficiency, the luscious environments and dazzling holographic ads are stripped back to their bare bones.
Rather than exploring a densely populated frontier at the edge of a new galaxy, you’re instead exploring a vast wilderness with nothing pretty to look at.
Case in point, early in your tutorial planet you’re asked to trek over to the botanical gardens. They make a huge deal out of being able to grow plants.
I looked around and thought really? Where the hell are they? I loaded up a let’s play on the PS4 and was heartbroken to see what I was missing out on.
The other drawback to the this cut-back is that the graphics are incredibly slow to render at the best of times.
When you get into a particularly hectic firefight, however, it’s not uncommon for the game to just drop everything and panic.
We’re talking screen tear, dropped frames, the screen going black, the game throwing up a loading image — everything you don’t want while trying not to die.
Fortunately, your main character has this ability to slow time to a crawl when you’re not moving.
On several occasions I’ve found myself utilising this just so that my Switch can catch up with processing the game.
So we’re left with a game that, even when cut down to work on a Switch, is both slow to load and dull to look at when it eventually does.
As far as the portability of the game goes, I’m not sure that this is a problem that needed solving.
It’s nice that you can pick up the game and take it with you, but the trade off in quality is simply not worth it.
The only real bonus to picking this up on the switch is the ability to use motion controls. You have the option to always move the camera with a flick of the wrist, to move the camera like this only while aiming, or not at all, sticking to motion controls.
The issue with this is that it feels a little unnatural moving the camera with your trigger hand seems natural at first brush, but it doesn’t quite translate when you’re playing with the Joycons out.
It’s a little better when playing handheld with the Joycons docked, but it’s so more distracting than it is fun or useful.
THE VERDICT – 3/5
– Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
Although this is one of the worst ports of a recently published game I’ve seen on the Switch, The Outer Worlds is still a fantastic game that is well worth your time. The issue with porting this game, in particular, is that it’s a bad solution to a problem that nobody had — the game is less than a year old and the Switch simply isn’t capable of doing the game justice.
I suppose if you don’t own anything else that will run this game, then this port is admittedly a way to play a game you’d otherwise have no access to. However, if you own literally anything else that will run The Outer Worlds, and don’t want a return to PS3 graphics with PS2 processing speeds, avoid this port like the Edgewater plague.
- It’s still a great game
- It’s available on more powerful consoles
- It looks awful
- It was very ambitious trying to run a game this complicated on this console
- There’s no tangible benefit to playing it on the Switch
- The Switch simply does not do this game justice
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