Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds, published by Private Division, has finally arrived on the Nintendo Switch. How was the conversion handled and should you pick this one up? Here’s our take.
After The Outer Worlds launched back in October, it picked up quite a few best “best of 2019” nods. Along with Remedy’s Control, it was certainly one of the best games to not come out of a first party studio last year, with releases for all major consoles and PCs. The Switch version was also announced, but development for it was going to take a little longer.
Looking back at the PS4 launch, which we reviewed back in October, this was hardly surprising. Not only would The Outer Worlds be a challenging prospect for the Switch hardware to begin with, we also noticed that the PS4 version – even running on a PlayStation 4 Pro, had a few framerate dips. From the perspective of horsepower, that didn’t bode too well for the Switch version, and it was clear that optimizing the experience for a less powerful console was going to be a challenge. Luckily, at the end of the day, it was handled as well as one can expect.
Obviously, the visual style, the humorous narrative and the captivating characters have all survived the transition intact. The core foundations of The Outer Worlds are still here, and if you haven’t played any of the previously released versions then it’s not hard to see why it received so much critical acclaim. The Fallout vibe is still strong, and it’s a real treat to be able to take a game like this on the road and play it in handheld mode.
Pretty much everything we mentioned about the gameplay in our original review holds true for the Switch version, including the very dynamic narrative that lets you make tough moral choices in a world fraught with injustice and class inequality – something even more relevant in this day and age than it was late last year. So as brilliant as the game is at its core, the big question is ‘how does it run on the Switch?’.
The short answer: as well as could realistically be expected. Load times are relatively long, and once you’re in-game you do experience a bit of slowdown when scenes get especially busy – most noticeably so during fights that feature multiple enemies on the screen at once. Viewed as a whole, however, the game is impressively stable in terms of the holding a steady frame rate in a high profile 3D game on the Switch.
Getting that stable experience has come at a price though. While the game looks and feels like its big console brothers, you can see the sacrifices that were made when you view both versions side by side. The draw distance has been reduced and the visuals feel slightly less colorful and vibrant this time around, but not to the point where it doesn’t feel like The Outer Worlds anymore. In fact, this is one of the most visually impressive handheld titles I’ve played – a fully featured 3D action RPG in the palms of my hands, with the biggest downside being that “there’s a better looking version out there”. As a Switch game on its own, it’s still quite impressive.
If you already own The Outer Worlds on another system then “handheld” is the only reason to grab the Switch version as it’s a very impressive example of handheld gaming. If you plan on playing on the big screen then the Switch version is the inferior choice over other consoles, but it’s still a great game that’s deserving of the praise it received last year.