Ever since the Nintendo Switch’s launch, its fans have been hankering for a larger number of PS4, Xbox One, and PC games to come to the hybrid console. If a game launches on any of the aforementioned platforms, it’s usually followed by the question: “Is it coming to the Switch?”, to the point where it’s become a bit of a meme. So it’s no surprise that Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus received the same treatment when it hit the PS4, Xbox One, and Windows PC late last year with cries for a Switch port. After all, the game’s publisher Bethesda has been prolific on the Nintendo Switch, releasing Skyrim and Doom. These were solid releases of games made for more powerful hardware. Now, having played Wolfenstein 2, however, we wish Bethesda had stuck to keeping the game exclusive to non-Nintendo hardware. Here’s why.
First up, accessibility. If you bought Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus at retail on cartridge, you’ll need to download 8GB of game data. Granted it’s not as bad as WWE 2K18 that required a 24GB download, but given the reliability (or lack thereof) of the Nintendo Switch’s Wi-Fi and the absence of a pause download button makes it an annoyance. Buying it digitally via the Nintendo eShop is an option too. But with the Wolfenstein 2 Switch download size being 22GB and Nintendo Switch’s 32GB of internal storage resulting in 25.6GB of usable space, you’ll most definitely need additional microSD card storage.
Now you’d think that releasing Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus on the Nintendo Switch nine months after it hit other platforms would entitle Switch owners to some extras such as the game’s season pass content bundled in, which is what we saw with South Park: The Fractured But Whole, but this is not the case. None of the game’s additional content - three additional single-player campaigns - are on the Nintendo Switch, essentially meaning that you’re paying the full $60 price for a game that released on the Nintendo Switch nearly a year late. With the game available for $20 ever so often on PS4, Xbox One, and Windows PC thanks to regular sales, there’s really no reason to pay three times the price. The game isn’t even available in a lot of countries as Nintendo is handling publishing duties, which means you won’t find it India despite Bethesda having an official presence in the country.
And there’s more. Visually, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus doesn’t look good at all. Running in docked mode, the resolution appears to be 720p, comparable to the lowest possible PC settings, and in some scenes, even lower than that. A ton of cutbacks have been made to make the game playable on what essentially is mobile hardware. Character models, environments, and effects like smoke, fire, and explosions have all been pared back to ensure it remains playable. Blurry textures and visuals make it painful to play even on a 26-inch monitor or TV. It fairs slightly better in handheld mode thanks to the smaller screen, but not by much.
This results in a game that while chugging along at 30fps, is far from the narrative masterpiece we enjoyed last year. In our Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus review for the PS4, we were blown away by its production values, attention to detail, and satisfying gunplay. Thanks to the Nintendo Switch’s lower specifications, both production values and details have been stripped out for most part which is a downer given how much the game focuses on telling its story. The gunplay thankfully remains intact thanks to HD rumble on the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and Joy-Con making each shot feel impactful.
Regardless how you cut it, Wolfenstein 2 on the Nintendo Switch is an ugly looking game. Particularly after the superlative PS4 and Xbox One versions.
That said, it’s a miracle this game runs on the Nintendo Switch at all. Unlike last year’s Doom which had a more linear level design, less complexity in its weapon design, and not much emphasis on narrative, Wolfenstein 2’s maps are wide and allow multiple approaches, while its story sequences are entertaining with a lot of cut-scenes filled with dark humour. From a content standpoint, none of the base game’s levels, weapons, or story have been removed, which is an achievement in itself. It’s an admirable feat that underscores developer Panic Button’s ingenuity.
However, it also brings to light one of Nintendo’s core failings with the Switch — it’s simply too underpowered to run newer AAA games. Unlike Sony’s and Microsoft’s consoles that run on AMD hardware, Nintendo opted to go for an Nvidia Tegra X1 chip whose performance is comparable to the PS3 and Xbox 360, which were cutting edge more than a decade ago. Throw in storage restrictions of the cartridge format and an online infrastructure that’s far behind what the competition have to offer, and Wolfenstein 2 on the Switch feels like it’s being held back by Nintendo’s technical choices.
Although the likes of Skyrim and Super Mario Odyssey are great examples of what’s possible on the existing Nintendo Switch hardware, Wolfenstein 2 makes us wonder what we could expect from Panic Button and Bethesda if the Nintendo Switch was more powerful or had an iterative version akin to the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X — a Nintendo Switch Pro, if you will. Better graphics, frame rate, and perhaps enough storage for its DLC to boot.
With Nvidia reportedly making $972 million on the Nintendo Switch alone, and Nintendo confirming that the console is a bonafide sales hit, hopefully we could see an iteration to the console with better specifications. As it stands though, you’re better off playing Wolfenstein 2 on other platforms. There are just too many issues that hamper it from being a tolerable experience.
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