Overwatch became an instant hit when it released three years go, instantly transforming into a cash cow for the folks over at Blizzard. With rich lore, despite the deceptively simplistic gameplay design, and characters worth remembering, the Blizzard FPS had some serious staying power. Combined with interesting events and surprise characters, there are a lot of reasons to love Overwatch, which is why it hurts my soul to say that I just wasn’t feeling the Nintendo Switch port. While the dream is to have every game on the hybrid console, the Overwatch Nintendo Switch port proves not every game can make a smooth transition.
When any game makes the Nintendo Switch jump, there will be some downgrades. Those downgrades don’t necessarily mean a bad thing – The Witcher III is the perfect example of a downgrade done right – but with an integrated game like Overwatch, the downgrades weren’t visual, they were mechanical, and that’s where things get a bit tricky.
How Does It Look
When Overwatch is docked, it comes in at 900p. Frame rate is capped at 30fps, but there’s no lock which means that the fps can dip even lower, which can make simultaneous Ults insanely chaotic. Textures are muted, details are even more cartoonish, and overall the aesthetic is reduced. The game itself has always had a cartoon-ish feel, so I don’t think anyone will have a major issue with the way the game looks. On the flip side of that, however, I did notice that sometimes the downgraded graphics would have enemy players looking like little blurry specs, which makes them harder to see and harder to take down. That being said, not-docked – meaning in its handheld state – the game looks much better. The graphics aren’t stretched and it looks more like the original Xbox One and PS4 versions, though obviously not an exact replica.
How Does It Feel
Mechanically, the Nintendo Switch just doesn’t quite work for this title. That’s not a shooter thing – Fortnite’s port worked well – it’s the translation that just seems off and messy. The Joy-Cons don’t have the pinpoint accuracy needed for Overwatch’s hitboxes, and even melee characters seem harder to control. Small gameplay mechanic changes were to be expected, but in this instance, it’s simply too much to ignore.
So how does someone work around that? The Pro Controller is a good way to try to circumvent those mechanical issues, but that doesn’t really help in the handheld mode and sort of defeats the purpose given that the game looks so much better in its mobile habitat. But, that being said, for those that don’t mind the swap out, the Pro Controller makes the game feel more like the other console versions, which makes for a smoother transition when looking to play on the Switch itself.
The Nintendo Switch does offer motion controls but the gyroscopic tools used for Overwatch just don’t really meet the standard needed for a smooth gameplay experience. Especially when dealing with characters that require solid aim (looking at you, snipers), the gyroscopic feature almost work against the player, which is the exact opposite of what this feature is meant to do.
Overwatch for the Nintendo Switch does have native voice chat, which is something that a lot of players were hoping it would offer. This makes team communication much easier while also throwing away the need for a third-party platform. Plus, the Nintendo Switch has some really cool headsets that work well with the system, so getting into the game with friends is a breeze.
As mentioned earlier with the frame rates and fuzzy enemies, sometimes character loading is a little delayed as well. Sometimes spawn has an annoying lag, highlights are also glitch-y with the hero not even showing up in the frame at all more often than not. Those issues impact both pre and post-match, so it’s not like your character is going to just up and disappear off of the map. I remember Fortnite had a similar issue when players first dropped, that it took a moment for the character model to catch up to the in-moment gameplay.
The only other downside that I noticed is that there is no way to capture in-game clips organically. When this feature was finally added into the original Overwatch versions, the community was ecstatic, so it was a little odd to see that they chose not to lean into that feature with the portable version. Perhaps it will come later in future updates, much like it did in vanilla Overwatch.
Overall, despite the negatives listed above, it’s a fun port. I travel a lot for work so being able to drop those beats with Lucio on the go is incredibly satisfying. The Nintendo Switch port still offers the fun experience that Overwatch players are already familiar with, though don’t expect it to be like its console and PC counterparts. It’s not the golden Overwatch experience, but it is fun and the flaws in no way make it unplayable. Now if we could just get them to include a cross-save feature …
6 out of 10