Portable 'Overwatch'? How Does Blizzard Switch It up from Console and PC?
Just because it can run, doesn't necessarily mean it should.
I've been a regular player of Overwatch since mid-2017 and I've racked up over 1000 hours during my many triumphs and even more failures. Since the game is over three years old, and has arguably been losing popularity over the last year, along with Blizzard's recent controversy over the Hong Kong protests, the transition of Overwatch into the world of handheld gaming couldn't have been at a more inopportune time.
However, company controversy aside, everyone was wondering how Blizzard would port the critically acclaimed phenomenon onto the Nintendo Switch; a console that, while known to be a hub for ports from all genres of gaming, is also infamous for its technical limitations. Don't get me wrong, the Switch is an amazing feat in technology, and can bring the biggest worlds into the palm of your hand, but it does so with a few performance issues, whether it be lower frames, lower resolution, or just feeling kinda weird to play, you should definitely consider playing a game on its original console before you pick up the portable version.
It's pretty easy to tell which games were made for the Switch, and which games were brought on kicking and screaming, and unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Overwatch just doesn't seem like it really wants to be there. To be honest, the whole process from download to payload is pretty much a complete nightmare. I pre-ordered the game, and was allowed to pre-download it, ready so I could play it as soon as it released, which is always a neat feature. However, at release time, game and I were greeted with an almost 11GB patch to download, making the game total 23GB on a console that has only 32GB of internal storage, and since I don't have an SD card for my system, I had to delete almost every other piece of software I owned. Sure, the easy fix is to just buy an SD card (which I now have), but it seems almost ludicrous to have a single game take up almost 75 percent of a console's memory, and considering the game runs at 30 frames, and has a considerable visual downgrade, this doesn't seem like a fair trade.
Continuing on the performance of the game, I didn't expect it to run at a perfect 60 frames per second, but the end result seems to struggle to get 30 when a lot is happening on screen, and that's a pretty common occurrence in Overwatch. The visual quality is greatly weakened too with the environments looking washed out, and, at times, pretty fuzzy.
I get it. Overwatch is a good looking game that usually runs at a consistent 60 frames on both console and PC, and due to the Switch's setbacks in its hardware, sacrifices had to be made. However, these small technical hitches that seem pretty minor at first, also act as the first fatal flaw in the port to the Switch. Overwatch is a game about precision and it's hard to remain precise when the port experiences an already mediocre frame rate with further drops during intense battles.
On the flipside, however, the Switch isn't exactly known for its thriving competitive gaming scene, so it's unlikely that many people will take the game as seriously as if they were on console or PC. The Switch's target demographic doesn't lend itself well to a game that has as intense of a following as Overwatch does, so there probably won't be many aspiring pros rushing to join the Overwatch League via Nintendo Switch.
A new feature that came exclusive to the Switch edition is the use of motion controls, and I find it hard to write that without almost laughing. Motion controls are a novel idea with many games that don't need them, but you get past the novelty and eventually turn them off after a while. Overwatch decided that the player can move the first person camera by tilting the Switch in different directions. Like I said, it's a cute and novel feature, but did Blizzard really think that anyone would use this? Within the first 30 seconds of realising there were motion controls, I wanted to turn them off, but I kept them on for a few games just to observe them in action. The bottom line is that they're only a hindrance, and anyone who uses them seriously is obviously trying to challenge themselves. They're surprisingly sensitive, and naturally, your hands don't stay perfectly still when playing, so it becomes an issue when you're trying to aim, but a slight movement in your hands sends you off target. If you find the novelty of motion controls amusing, then knock yourself out, but if you have a competitive bone in your body, you're going to want to turn them off in the options menu.
Overall, the Switch port of Overwatch is an oddity. You know it's Overwatch, but it doesn't feel like it and instead just feels like a well made knock-off. Despite my overwhelming criticisms of it, it does still contain some of the joy found in the original, and you can tell Blizzard tried their best to make it as smooth as possible, but for me, it feels too clunky to play properly and I'd suggest anyone who wants to give this game a serious shot, whilst remaining in a console, buy it on the PS4 or Xbox One first.