Three years on from the game’s original launch, Overwatch has made its way to the Nintendo Switch but was it worth the wait?
Back in 2016, we labelled Overwatch as one of the best multiplayer shooters we’d ever played and, over three years later, that hasn’t changed. What has changed is the amount of additional content that’s been added to the game, both permanent and ephemeral. Overwatch has received update after update, event after event (all for free), and is now widely acknowledge as one of the most positive implementa-tions of the games as a service concept.
Overwatch is synonymous with inclusion, with a roster and set of locations spanning the globe, celebrat-ing cultural differences. Perhaps it’s that inclusive nature that made the Switch port feel like an inevitabil-ity – the Switch was the only current generation console to miss out on Overwatch’s trademark hero shooter action and it always felt like a case of when, not if.
For the uninitiated, perhaps those experiencing the game for the first time, Overwatch is a 12-person multiplayer shooter that offers various objective-based modes. There are no significant single-player modes and you won’t find a team deathmatch or free-for-all option here, as every match is instead fo-cused on capturing territory or escorting a payload through various pastiches of real-world environments.
Since Overwatch’s Switch port adds all post-release content there are now 31 playable characters, each with their own abilities and weaponry. All the heroes (and villains) are organised into one of three catego-ries – tank, support, and damages – with their unique abilities, and how to activate them, clearly explained and illustrated, much like a fighting game.
Overwatch has seen many tweaks and additions over the years but the recent addition of a role-queue has been one of the most warmly received, ensuring that the days of multiple players playing as the same heroes is now a thing of the past.
Each character’s move-set compliments a balanced team dynamic and it’s possible to build extremely powerful combos if you have the right team. Thankfully, Overwatch on Switch has its own voice chat, so co-ordinating an offensive push between your squad-mates is possible – if your team has a mic.
In fact, when you consider the amount of post-launch content Blizzard has crammed onto the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC versions of Overwatch, it’s quite incredible the whole thing fits on a memory card and can be played on the go. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea to do so.
When in docked mode, Overwatch on the Switch does feel like playing a close approximation of the base PlayStation 4 or Xbox One versions of the game. Textures can seem a tad blurrier, but the real issue is one of networking. The Switch’s dock can be hardwired to your router, and it really should be when playing an online-only shooter, but that requires an adapter that many people won’t have.
Without it things can feel more than a little laggy, and it’s not uncommon to score what you were sure was a headshot before missing an enemy entirely. Of course, this doesn’t happen in every game, but it’s something to consider if you’re looking to play competitively. Thankfully the frame rate holds up well in both docked and handheld modes, even if it is just 30 fps.
The network connection isn’t the only consideration, either. Nintendo’s jack of all trades controller, the Joy-Con, simply isn’t suited to the rigours of a competitive online shooter. Its smaller face buttons are a minor annoyance, but it’s the triggers that really lack the depth necessary to give a tactile feel to aiming down sights and pulling the trigger. The Pro Controller negates this to a large degree, although it’s still a shame it doesn’t have analogue triggers.
Blizzard, working with developer Iron Galaxy, have tried to offer as many control alternatives as possible, including motion controls for some specific actions, such as controlling Wrecking Ball while rolled up. Being able to slightly shift perspective to line up a headshot with Widowmaker, or steer Junkrat’s remote ex-plosive feels immediately intuitive, and reminiscent of Splatoon’s excellent use of motion controls.
All this means the game works very well in handheld mode, especially since, as with the recent port of The Witcher 3, the smaller screen flatters the visuals more than a large-scale TV. You’re definitely not going to have a LAN adapter in handheld, but if all you want to do is unwind with a match or two in an idle mo-ment then it works very well. But unfortunately, that’s about all Overwatch on Switch is really good for.
The Switch port is full of compromises, but so many of them are down to the Switch’s hardware and Nin-tendo’s lack of home console quality online features. It’s a decent port, that bundles in a wealth of con-tent, but it’s impossible to recommend over any other version of the game.
Overwatch Legendary Edition Switch review
In Short: Overwatch is still an excellent title, even this far from launch, but the Switch version is notably inferior in terms of online performance.
Pros: Insane number of characters, each with their own strategic merit. Art style is still strong even on underpowered hardware. Workable voice chat, and motion controls feel like a natural addition.
Cons: Network inconsistency due to predominantly Wi-Fi only Switch makes it a tough sell. Graphically underpowered compared to other console versions.
Formats: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Iron Galaxy and Blizzard Entertainment
Release Date: 15th October 2019
Age Rating: 12
By Lloyd Coombes
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