A vast solar system to explore. Countless horrid creatures from beyond mortal ken to bash in the head with a plasma-powered sword. Cosmetic options that ranged from fugly to having a face fit for radio. Say what you like about last year’s brand new IP The Outer Worlds, but Obsidian Entertainment’s big new IP was still a visually distinct sandbox of intrigue and action, giving players just enough wiggle room to talk their way out of a hairy situation or throw caution to the wind as they filled their hands with laser pistol lead.
Not exactly a new benchmark in graphical technology, the Outer Worlds was more focused on gameplay than anything else, choosing a more modest presentation for its action and story. It’s an approach that actually worked out well, and without it needing to burn a console to the ground with its moderate requirements, you’d expect The Outer Worlds to arrive mostly intact on the Nintendo Switch.
Which to be fair, developer Virtuos mostly achieves with their port. Nintendo Switch owners are more than used to having to make some compromises to see a game which was on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on their systems, but with The Outer Worlds the cuts made too corners essentially turn the game into a racing tire built out of downgrades.
It’s still a miracle that Virtuos has managed to port The Outer Worlds over and they deserve to be commended for their efforts. Gameplay runs smoothly, you’re still able to easily get a bead on an enemy when the action isn’t too busy when you begin to dilate the flow of time itself and the audio is crisp. But in its raw form, the numerous concessions don’t just detract from the beauty of The Outer Worlds but it also makes it actively more difficult to play in handheld mode.
Docked mode resolution usually hovers around the 1280 x 720p mark and rarely reaches the 1080p resolution (and doubly confirmed by Digital Foundry on this) that was originally advertised. In handheld mode, a 540p resolution isn’t uncommon, with performance barely holding up as the screen gets more populated. Outdoor areas and firefights result in the frame-rate drastically dropping to the mid-10s at the very worst.
There’s also a severe case of texture popping, with assets taking an absurd amount of time to magically teleport in front of you. It makes navigating the environments in handheld mode a Herculean labour of focus, as the muddy presentation had me convinced that my eyes were coated with KY jelly due to all the smudged visuals I was experiencing.
It’s a damn shame, as The Outer Worlds wasn’t just a fresh experience last year but also one of the best new games of 2019. I’m still impressed with how Virtuos has brought the full game over, warts and all, but this is a port of a game that was never made to be played on a smaller screen while you’re on the go. Compared to Switch ports such as The Witcher 3, The Outer Worlds could theoretically function on this system if it was given a major overhaul that brought it more in line with the limits of the Switch, but attempting to break past those barriers does no favours for a brilliant RPG.
Last Updated: June 4, 2020