Indie developers like Yacht Club Games are seeing huge sales on the Switch, and big publishers are also getting in on that action. Bethesda Softworks has already launched Doom and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on Nintendo’s hybrid handheld/home console, and now it is getting ready to launch Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus on the platform.
Like Doom, Wolfenstein II is a shooter, but it has a deeper emphasis on narrative and characters. It’s also a phenomenal game. Bethesda announced today that is releasing the sequel on Switch on June 29, and I want to give you permission to get excited about it. I played the Switch version in Boston at the PAX East fan event, and it looked great.
The Switch has had ports from Xbox One and PlayStation 4 before this. Rocket League and Bethesda’s own Doom come to mind. And those games both went through a severe visual downgrading process to run within the confines of Nintendo’s mobile-powered tablet.
But in recent weeks, both Bethesda and Rocket League developer Psyonix have updated their games to improve the resolutions and framerate. Where Rocket League’s car-soccer action previously ran at a sub-HD resolution around 576p, it now does 720p and 60 frames per second even in handheld mode. Doom has seen similar improvements.
It’s obvious that developers are figuring out new ways to squeeze more fidelity out of a Switch system that is inherently less powerful than the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
At PAX East, Wolfenstein II was further evidence that Switch development is unlocking enough power to justify certain current-gen ports. I played The New Colossus in handheld mode, and it looked like the game was running at 720p without dropping below that HD threshold. This created a sharp image that looked indistinguishable from the Xbox One or PS4 versions (non-X and non-Pro) on the Switch’s approximately 6.2-inch display.
I’m not trying to imply that the Switch matches those other consoles. Its PAX East demo had a lot of frame-rate-related choppiness. That was especially noticeable when I was watching over someone else’s shoulder. But when I sat down to play, everything came together to provide the Wolfenstein II experience as I remember it on console.
I hope that Bethesda has its team working on optimization through the spring so that it runs smoother when it launches, but it is already looking like a viable way to play Wolfenstein II if you don’t already own it on another platform.