Overwatch on Switch: an overly compromised conversion?

October 21, 2019
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Overwatch on Switch is available to buy right now. It works, it’s attractive, it’s playable – but the limits of the Tegra X1 mobile chipset shape an experience that cuts into the core enjoyment of the game. All other versions of Blizzard’s celebrated first-person competitive shooter operate at 60fps – but the Switch port opts for a 30fps cap instead. It still ranks as a technical feat in the sense that a port is possible at all, especially in handheld mode, but there are definite plus and minus points to Iron Galaxy’s port – and perhaps a few too many of the latter.

First of all, let’s concentrate on the positives. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better way to play Overwatch on a handheld and that really can’t be understated. There are obvious cutbacks, but there is a wonder to seeing this played portably. It fits into an 11GB install, too, compared to the 25GB on PS4 or Xbox One – and the way Iron Galaxy manages this is primarily by cutting down texture quality, to something that’s broadly equivalent to PC’s lowest setting. As a very colourful, art-driven game, the texture drop doesn’t really show on a small six-inch screen, and even when docked, the action is so fast that this compromise is not so easily noticed.

Image quality is a more obvious drawback and the official line on this was pretty clear when it was announced. The developer’s Twitter account put resolution at 900p while docked, and 720p while portable. However, on closer inspection, there is much more to it, with dynamic resolution scaling in play. It’s a dynamic 900p when docked, with a horizontal scaler delivering a minimum of 1152×900 under load. Similarly, portable play is a native 720p in the best case, but again, the horizontal scaler seems to deliver a 960×720 resolution with the engine under stress.

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