Title: The Outer Worlds
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Release Date: June 5, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Private Division
Genre: RPG, Third Person Shooter
The Nintendo Switch is an amazing little system. It bridges the gap between home and portable consoles perfectly, providing the best of both worlds. In the past, the system has made it possible to play amazing games like The Witcher 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and LA Noire on the go, but not without sacrificing graphical and technical fidelity.
The latest triple-A console game getting the Switch port treatment is Obsidian Entertainment’s The Outer Worlds, a Fallout inspired game that does Fallout better than Bethesda has done it in years. When it first launched on consoles, I was wildly impressed, which had me profoundly skeptical of this port. Well, what we got is just about as bad (if not worse) than I would’ve thought graphically, but at the end of the day, it is still The Outer Worlds on the go.
The Outer Worlds takes place in the Halcyon system made up of a group of planets far from Earth. Large corporations control almost everything, forcing many into a life of servitude with minimal reward. Some civilians have accepted this as the way of life here, but others, such as scientist Phineas Welles, wish for the overthrow of these corporate entities.
To save Halcyon, Welles awakens a cryogenically frozen passenger from a lost colony ship. Though Welles wishes for “the Stranger” to assist him in his goal to strip the power from the corporations, the choice is entirely up to you.
The best thing that The Outer Worlds has going for it is its narrative. It delivers what many want from video games: true freedom to do just about whatever you want. The Stranger can be whoever you want them to be: a radical terrorist, a smooth-talking gunslinger, or a beefcake swordfighter; the options feel limitless. Better yet, the story completely adapts to your decisions, ensuring a fantastic narrative experience no matter how you choose to play.
This core narrative is left untouched in The Outer Worlds’ Switch port. Sadly, some elements of the Switch port will need to be looked past, but these revolve around the graphical downgrade of this version.
At this point, most gamers are aware that the Switch can’t really support these highly detailed games. Some of these ports are more graceful than others, however, and The Outer Worlds is not. The original release was by no means a visual marvel, but it certainly wasn’t hard on the eyes. Still, The Outer Worlds’ Switch port looks like a game from last generation.
Textures are almost exclusively muddy, and pop-in is a big issue. It feels as if the game’s developers went into the settings and turned the graphics down to below the “ultra-low” setting. You can still tell what everything is and, when you get close enough, most textures will eventually become apparent, but this is definitely a far cry from all other versions of the game.
This port is also no stranger to bugs. Most of the bugs I encountered were visual and didn’t impact gameplay, but they were still incredibly noticeable. Large numbers of NPCs would regularly pop into existence far after they should have, enemies occasionally glitch through walls, and the frame rate would fall significantly during random moments of gameplay. I should add that none of these were game-breaking bugs, but the graphical and technical aspects of the Switch port are miles behind any other version of the game available.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, these aspects are even worse when playing the game in handheld mode. The game’s resolution takes a significant dip when playing portably, with just about everything on screen looking incredibly blurry. At the end of the day, however, it is still The Outer Worlds on the go, with the story and gameplay features completely intact.
Speaking of gameplay, The Outer Worlds features an addicting and satisfying gameplay loop. A vast majority of most player’s time in Halcyon will be spent navigating intricate dialogue trees. Almost every interaction in The Outer Worlds can end in a multitude of ways. If you play your cards right, there’s a good chance that you’ll rarely have to engage in combat. If combat sounds more up your alley, however, you can fight your way through just about every interaction.
Navigating through these interactions is a ton of fun, as is every encounter in the game. Gunplay might not stand up very well next to many first-person shooters, but it feels good enough to get by. The addition of “Tactical Time Dilation” helps make up for the less than perfect gunplay, allowing players to slow down time to make more precise shots. Overall, while the combat mechanics and gunplay won’t be blowing anyone away, they work just fine and are a lot of fun.
Aside from many graphical and technical issues, The Outer Worlds on the Switch is the same fantastic game that it always has been. Minute to minute gameplay is a ton of fun, whether you’re blasting your way through marauders and strange alien creatures or sly talking your way around combat.
This core experience is completely preserved in the Switch port, and it feels surreal playing the game on the go in handheld mode. Of course, that mode might just be the worst way to experience the adventure, but it is still worth it nonetheless.
If you have the option to play The Outer Worlds on any other console, I suggest you do that. If you don’t have anything other than a Switch and still want to check out the Halcyon system for yourself or simply want to play the game again on the go, this port gives you a chance, though don’t expect the best version of the game.
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