THE OUTER WORLDS Switch version is now finally available, launching eight months after the PC, PS4, and Xbox One editions of the game. Virtuos is the developer behind the port, tasked with squashing down the Obsidian Entertainment creation to play nicely with the less powerful Nintendo Switch. We were blown away with The Outer Worlds when we played it on PS4 Pro, so how does it hold up on Nintendo’s hybrid home-portable console? Here’s our verdict.
The Outer Worlds Switch review | Making the switch
Coming in at a relatively impressive 13.7 GB in size, The Outer Worlds fits onto a game cartridge with plenty of room to spare. While other titles have suffered a loss in audio fidelity due to over-compression to get the game to fit, The Outer Worlds Switch version sounds solid to me. This is the full experience, too, so there was no need to cut content to save space.
The Switch edition features motion controls, using the console’s gyroscope. Players can opt to aim by rotating a detached Joy-Con. I didn’t find this to be useful at all, but hey, it’s an option and it might work well for others.
Of course, the biggest advantage of playing The Outer Worlds on Switch is the portability factor. You can now enjoy a fantastic Obsidian RPG on a handheld, a feat that’s still hard to believe despite my many hours with the game.
Of course, non-Lite players can still dock their system and play on the big screen. Though, I’d personally advise against doing that as it turns the already heavily compromised visuals into an even bigger mess. This gets worse the bigger the external display is.
This is where things get ugly, unfortunately. While it should be obvious that a game like The Outer Worlds is going to suffer compromises when moving to less powerful hardware, I was still surprised by the downgraded visuals. Something had to give in order to keep performance at an acceptable level, and it quickly becomes obvious that the “something” was a crisp resolution.
As you’ll see in the majority of screenshots that I’ve captured while playing, The Outer Worlds can get very, very blurry. While the output resolution is 720p portable and 1080p docked, it’s clear that upscaling from a lower resolution is often used to keep the experience as close to 30 FPS as possible.
It’s a shame to see what is such a fantastic-looking game on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, crushed down to look like this. There are no graphics options to fiddle around with, either, which are what ultimately helped save The Witcher 3 on Switch from looking like a puddle of Vaseline.
Overall stability of the frame-rate is mostly fine. However, in larger gunfights or when moving more quickly through the world, you can sometimes suffer the occasional hiccup. Both docked and portable play had these rare stutters, but they were infrequent enough to only be minor annoyances.
I’m happy that frame-rate has been given the priority, especially for a game with a first-person perspective and gameplay that requires reasonably speedy aim, but it comes at a much greater cost than I was expecting.
I should also mention load times, which are a little long. Saving the game is very quick, however, which is important for a title like this where players may want to rechoose dialogue options or approach a fight differently. The game supports multiple save files, so you can go wild.
The Outer Worlds Switch review | Soul largely intact
If you can get past the greasy look of the game, you’ll still find The Outer Worlds‘ gameplay underneath. The awesome class and weapon customization will still keep you busy as you become more powerful and try out new tools. Tough decisions still need to be made, and you’ll see them impact the world in positive and negative ways. You’ll also still be able to appreciate the variety in scenery across different planets.
Characters are well-acted and vibrant, with their own little quirks giving them that extra bit of personality. This often makes it tricky to choose which faction to side with, especially if you’re used to trying to keep everyone happy in other games. There are multiple ways to play out the adventure, which invites a replay or two.
Some of the characters you meet will offer to join you as a companion. Companions in other RPGs can often hold you back or require you to babysit them, but in The Outer Worlds they are incredibly useful. Helping to bolster the player’s statistics is one advantage, but companions also have their own abilities that can save the day against a big mob of enemies or a particularly tough boss.
Again, there is still a lot to enjoy here. Obsidian made a damn good game, creating a Fallout-style RPG with its own unique strengths, which is now playable on the go.
The Outer Worlds Switch review | Handling the compromises
While the game’s blurry presentation has me recommending any other version of The Outer Worlds over this Switch edition, if you have to play on the Nintendo handheld, then there are a few ways you can handle the compromised experience.
The aim assist and easy difficulty option both help to make challenging combat easier to handle and less stressful. While controls are decently responsive, intense combat can still be tricky. Keep the aim assist on and consider playing on easy to help balance out any accuracy fails.
I chose to avoid sniper builds and focus on melee, in addition to leadership. This meant that I didn’t have to worry about pinpoint accuracy and I was able to rely on my companions’ fast ability cooldowns to make fights easier. Investing points into buffing the Tactical Time Dilation is also wise, as it allows you to constantly be slowing down time to land shots.
Obviously it’s not great that I felt the need to go down a specific customization path just to handle the combat, but fighting is only one aspect of The Outer Worlds. There is still a lot of enjoyable gameplay to be had with interacting with characters and exploring the wild landscapes.
The Outer Worlds Switch review | A great game’s worst version
It’s unfortunate that The Witcher 3 on Switch set the bar so high for handheld ports. While it also had its compromises, it still managed to retain the charm of one of the best games of all time, with the options to disable Motion Blur and Blur, as well as to increase Sharpening, coming in clutch to save it.
The Outer Worlds on Switch is too heavily compromised in the visuals department for me to recommend it above any other version of the game. However, for owners of the Nintendo Switch and no other supported system, then there is still plenty to love here, provided you can stomach the full price at launch.
This was of the greatest games of 2019 and is still worthy of playing, but you’ll need to prepare yourself for the blur. It’s still The Outer Worlds, provided you squint a little!
The Outer Worlds was reviewed on an original Nintendo Switch with code provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.