Overwatch Switch Review: At Least Blizzard Got This Right

The release of Overwatch: Legendary Edition on the Nintendo Switch has been lost amongst the backlash surrounding Blizzard and the controversy the company is currently involved in related to the Hong Kong protests. A release event for the game was even canceled due to the questionable decisions that Blizzard has made and the fan outcry that followed, including, but not limited to the #BoycottBlizzard hashtag.

What should have been a really fun moment for Overwatch fans and Switch owners is now merely an afterthought. That’s probably for the best, though. Overwatch on the Switch is exactly what you would expect it to be: a way to play Overwatch while on-the-go. But unless you’re a jet-setter who is constantly away from your console or gaming PC, it’s unlikely that you’ll be replacing the Switch port with your primary platform of choice.

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Graphical Impacts

Keeping in mind the limitations of the Switch, the Overwatch port brings everything we know and love about the team-based first-person shooter to Nintendo’s portable device without missing a beat. The game runs at 30 frames per second on the Switch, which is something that players will need to be conscious of when playing, as this downgrade seems to have a negative impact on some of the actual gameplay.

While playing in handheld mode, I experienced some lag while playing as my main, Mercy, both in her healing ability and while going on the offensive with her pistol. A noticeable delay would occur, resulting in either the death of a teammate that I was too slow to reach in time, or me failing to bring down an enemy before they were healed (or took me out first). This wasn’t a consistently occurring issue, but it happened enough to become frustrating.

That said, the issue seemed to happen far less while playing in docked mode, which is great and all, but the biggest draw for playing Overwatch on the Switch is being able to play while on-the-go. Perhaps those who travel often will bring along their docking station (it doesn’t take up that much room, after all), but most players aren’t buying the 30 FPS version of Overwatch and expecting it to play the same as on a console or PC. At least, they shouldn’t be.

The graphics are fine for being on the Switch. Actually, I was surprised that the game looks as good as it does. Blizzard did well to put work into the visuals that mattered most, which are in Overwatch’s character designs and animations and the playable areas of the levels. Get knocked off of the map, though, and you’ll find yourself in a background that looks about as good as the backgrounds of the best PlayStation 2 games. Most players will probably hope to avoid those areas though, so it’s really not an issue.

Mercy Can't Save These Controls

The gyroscope and motion controls, on the other hand, are entirely different beasts. The ability to look around in-game using the gyroscope is more novelty than it is essential, or even a good idea. I experienced a significant delay on-screen when compared to my movements. In handheld mode, I found myself in incredibly awkward positions just to see properly, such as staring straight up at the ceiling even though my character’s perspective was looking straight ahead.

This delay can be adjusted with the gyroscope’s sensitivity settings, but it’s unlikely that you’ll have a perfect setting that will make gameplay better than just using joystick controls, which are a little awkward in their own right.

Thankfully, I was testing out everything in Casual mode. Though it is a concerning issue for those planning on eventually making the leap to Competitive mode. If you’re looking to make a name for yourself within Overwatch’s competitive scene, you’re definitely going to want to do so on a PC or console. The Switch just doesn’t hold up enough to make competitive play appealing. Again, this really shouldn’t come off as a surprise given the technical limits of the Switch. If anything, Overwatch on the Switch should just be used for practice, but honestly, even that is a bit of a stretch.

A Passable Experience

Overwatch on the Switch is exactly what we thought it would be. Blizzard mostly succeeds in porting the popular title to the portable device, albeit not without some technical issues that were more or less expected. It’s unlikely that the game will be a major success compared to its other versions, but it opens up the door to help to bring in a far more casual audience who may be inspired enough eventually pick up the game on a more powerful platform.

Of course, that will also likely depend on the amount of player support that Blizzard is able to hang on to. Players have already demanded refunds for Overwatch on the Switch, which Blizzard is denying (an entirely different fight that will probably extend to the greater industry sooner than later).

At any rate, if you just can’t get enough Overwatch and are willing to sacrifice a bit of quality for playing while on-the-go, the Switch version of the game will suit you just fine.

A Switch copy of Overwatch: Legendary Edition was purchased for this review. Overwatch is available now for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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