Wolfenstein: The New Colossus (Switch Edition)
You could read our review about Wolfenstein: The New Colossus and learn why I absolutely loved the game. This is easily one of the best, if not the best, FPS franchises around, and the latest installment got an “on-the-go” treatment on the Switch. Does it live up to the potential?
The quick answer is yes. Wolfenstein is exactly why I wanted a Switch. A more “adult” oriented game, a shooter none-the-less, that I can take with me and play wherever I want. That is why I’m a recent owner of the Switch. I haven’t had time to sit down and play games in front of my TV lately, but having the Switch with me and pulling it out while I have a few minutes of downtime here and there has really let me enjoy some new games. Wolfenstein is a pure example of why you’d want a Switch.
The Switch version of Wolfenstein : The New Colossus is a testament to just how fantastic the game is. The swift gunplay, great enemy AI, and surprising puzzle based tactics work extremely well with the Switch controls. While the screen space is rather tight in mobile mode, the game doesn’t really hold back in terms of distant enemies or the puzzle based tactics. The Switch also tosses in some aiming assistance with motion control aiming which works by assisting the already great gunplay. The motion controls allow you to further pinpoint your crosshairs anywhere you want, and it makes taking out peeking enemies rather easy. This is something I wish the game had from the start because it adds so much to the game, but isn't exactly necassary so you can easily turn it off.
The Switch also got a cool new feature got HD Rumble, where the controller will have vibrating feedback for various things in the game. It's really neat how different guns feel unique to you based on the vibrations of the controller, and the Switch also picking up little details to give feedback with. The small little touches make the experience totally different on the Switch.
There is, of course, some drawbacks to playing in mobile mode though. The lacking power of the Switch becomes rather apparent almost immediately. For some reason the game offers a blur effect that is extremely noticeable, especially for those of us that played the game on any other platform, and it disorients your view in the distance. Through most of the game there are wide maps with enemies shooting at you from a large distance, this blur is a very harsh handicap put on you (for whatever tech reasons they had) because sometimes you are blind firing, or needing to rush in closer just to get a good shot. It also gets frustrating in multi-tier levels, where enemies are shooting above or below you, because you literally cannot see in that area of the screen. Also apparent while in handheld mode is extreme frame rate drops. The game targets a 30FPS standard, but during combat (and strangely during one cutscene for me) the game drops noticeably below this target, leading to some rather frustrating moments in tense situations. (Note as of writing this a patch was released and I haven’t noticed any substantial frame drops anymore)
One thing that got to me rather quickly was the intense texture pop that is noticeable at almost every turn, and during the short in game scenes. The textures are not top of the line, being restricted to sub 720p output as well, but the fact objects keep popping in the screen with no textures is very noticeable. There were a few times where enemies would be basically blank models during a whole combat sequence, while other times it would only pop for a split second before everything looked fine.It's often very noticable at the very beginning of levels where we have to sit through in-game sequences and the game seems to still be loading all the assets.
The good news about all of this is that Doom had similar issues when it first released, but thanks to frequent updates post launch a lot of the issues have been adjusted or removed. Doom also had the ability to remove the blur effect, but Wolfenstein currently doesn’t, which is an odd decision to make for a game that relies more heavily on distant enemies.
Also good news is that a lot of these issues are removed once the Switch is put into docked mode. I don’t normally play my Switch in this mode, and I have Wolfenstein on another console anyway, but for those that don’t mind the transition it is good news. The frame rate increases dramatically, and the blur effect can be handled a little easier on a bigger screen. The visuals are also closer to 720, with texture popping not as apparent. Obviously though I wanted the game for on-the-go so that is where I’ll stick. Once I can turn off the blur effect I think I’ll enjoy the game just fine anywhere I take it.
I haven’t been able to stop playing the game since I got it on my Switch and it’s actually a game that’s really easy to pick up and play. The gunplay makes learning so switft, and the in-depth style of leveling your character really allows you to make it your own as you play. For those that don’t remember, you level up your skills based on how you play the game. So if you want to play it stealthy you can do so, and the game will make it easier for you to play that way as you move along. Or you can be a run and gun style player, and the game will gear everything in that direction. No matter which style you choose, it feels like Wolfenstein plays beautifully on the Switch just like it does anywhere else.