Hands-on: Playing Doom on the Nintendo Switch
Talk about standard definition
Bethesda is running a gameplay tour featuring all of their different upcoming gaming experiences that will be releasing before the end of this year. They had their two marquee console titles, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and The Evil Within II, hands-on with their VR experiences (Skyrim, DOOM and Fallout 4) and the upcoming Nintendo Switch ports.
I got my hands on Skyrim first, which feels like a totally new experience on the Switch. The screen size offsets any reduction in resolution or texture detail, and it looks better on the Switch screen than it ever did on my TV. It took a little getting used to the control layout, but once I’d spent a few minutes in the game I was exploring the full world of Skyrim on a handheld console.
The second title and the more surprising Nintendo Switch port I got my hands on was DOOM. Unlike Skyrim, DOOM never saw a release on previous generation hardware, making the announcement of its release on Switch a real mind blower. If DOOM on the Switch was going to work, Bethesda was going to have to make some serious compromises like lower resolution, lower textures, and lower frame rates.
DOOM is impressive and definitely an ambitious port, however, the game rarely strays from 30FPS while undocked. The resolution and textures have been reduced, which isn't surprising - but the remaining depth of field is surprising. They didn't end up removing it altogether, which is nice.
Unfortunately, while playing DOOM it seemed as if vaseline had been smeared across the Switch screen. The game looked muddy as hell, which prompted me to ask a rep if there was something wrong with the Switch I was using. She assured me there wasn’t, and after getting a look at the game running on other demo units, it looked that was indeed how the game looks and it’s not great (I also asked the same Bethesda rep about the resolution. She didn’t have an answer). The DOOM station was situated right by a giant window, with the light of day causing a nasty glare, which further exposed the lack of graphical fidelity. Enemies were hard to distinguish from the background, and button prompts that appeared on screen were impossible to make out due to the size of the text.
DOOM was a beautifully crisp and detailed game on PS4 and Xbox One. At the moment, those aspects are lost in the translation to the Nintendo Switch. The feeling of playing the game on the go, like Skyrim, is still really cool, however, I would not recommend it over a proper console experience. There’s still plenty of time to tweak a few things like the button prompts which need to be customized for the Switch. As of right now, if you’re waiting to play DOOM on your portable Nintendo console, be prepared to make a big compromise.