The Outer Worlds looks so bad on Switch I’m tempted to tell even people who have no other means of playing it to stay away.
The Switch port of Obsidian’s sci-fi role-playing game by Virtuos Games comes out June 5, and it’s clear the journey to Nintendo’s handheld home-console hybrid has been anything but smooth. From the couple hours I’ve played so far, the underlying game still appears to be intact. The look and style of the original, meanwhile, has taken a severe hit, with characters, objects, and environments that look at best blurry and at worst incomplete.
The Outer Worlds takes place in a distant solar system where life in a burgeoning set of colonies is ruled by the futuristic equivalent of your local chamber of commerce. Corporations vie with one another for dominance while abusing and exploiting the colonists who all work for them. Though bleak, this satire of life on the space frontier is offset in part by a vibrant-looking world and gorgeous skyboxes that make The Outer Worlds feel more like space fantasy that just a gritty dystopia.
Unfortunately, a lot of that beauty and detail is missing from the Switch port. More than once I caught myself waiting for textures and other graphical details to load, only to realize they weren’t coming. This is just how things were going to look:
I’ve searched for the brilliant sea-green sunrises and planetary rings filling up the original’s skies, only to see what feels like a half-finished canvas. Many of the basic elements are still there, but so scaled down they hardly feel like they even belong.
Digital Foundry has a very thorough breakdown comparing the Switch port to the Xbox One X version, in which they applaud the fact that the port exists at all while also noting the myriad sacrifices that were necessary to make it happen. The game runs at 720p in docked mode, but only 540 and sometimes even less while in handheld mode. This is a shame, since the real draw of a Switch version is being able to enjoy the sprawling RPG on the go.
Framerate drops are also an issue, and while the shooting was never great on Xbox One or PS4 to begin with, it’s even clumsier with the Joy-Con. It’s definitely still possible to play the game in docked mode with a Pro controller and enjoy some of what The Outer Worlds has to offer, but unlike the version that came out last fall, the Switch port feels like a skip.