The Outer Worlds is a first person action RPG developed by Obsidian Entertainment (of Fallout New Vegas fame) and published by Private Division. The game was originally released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, & Microsoft Windows back in October 2019, and eight months later Nintendo released it on the Switch. With the current cost of $60 on the Switch and the competitor’s price tag of $40, it is a hard decision to make on ff it is worth picking it up.
Starting out the game, it is immediately evident that the process of porting it to the Switch caused a loss in graphics quality and has a drastically lowered resolution compared to the other platform releases. As you start to explore the first planet the landscape is barren and consists of cut and paste textures such as stone and grass. What is even stranger is that the load screens take thirty seconds or more for each time you enter an environment or need to restart from a death. This makes the game even more of a chore if you were looking to play it in more challenging modes.
Entering the first firefight on the planet showcased just how odd the joycons feel in a first person shooter. The stick sensitivity was choppy and took a lot of trial and error to get them relatively smooth. It is clear that the Switch wasn’t built for first person shooters like the current gen Xbox and PlayStation controllers. What is also interesting about the control configuration is the reversed placement of the A and B buttons. In The Outer Worlds these buttons control the jump (A) and crouch (B) actions. For anyone used to the button mapping on the other consoles this will cause some confusion. It was a funny yet frustrating interaction with enemies while jumping up and down behind potential cover, instead of actually crouching behind it. It all depends on personal controller experience, but may take awhile to relearn and get over the frustration.
The low graphics quality coupled with the choppy nature of the thumb sticks quickly left me with a case of motion sickness. Unlike other platform ports of The Outer Worlds that allow you to adjust the field of view, the Switch sadly lacked these options. Instead, the game opts for an adjusting text size feature, clearly helpful when switching to handheld mode but not so helpful in making the game more playable. I was sad to see that after switching to handheld mode the text was already at max (about 7pt font). It would have been nicer to see more options to customize the view or even larger font sizes if that was the more important feature to have.
Within the control options the game allows you to choose a feature that is exclusive to the Switch, motion aiming. By opting to use motion aiming, the right joy con allows you to physically aim when the gun is aimed down the sights. After more sensitivity adjustments it seemed like we were ready for battle, but resulted in even worse motion sickness with the abrupt camera shaking and auto lock-on fighting for control. Even with auto lock-on removed the shaking and sudden movements remained. It seems like it would be a fun gimmick but the application of it became a feature to try out once and quickly move away from.
After eagerly switching to handheld mode, the graphics quality surprisingly took another drop. Characters no longer rendered faces had faces at a distance of twenty feet in game. This made the game even less interesting and hard to follow with the small text limitations that had already been maxed out. The battery life will vary on each console but was upsetting to see that it had dropped from 100% to 93% in just ten minutes. Overall the docked TV experience was the preferred way to play.
The switch version offers two features that are unique to it. The first is the portability, the main gimmick for any switch game, and the second is being able to play with the joy cons in each hand free style. This allows for a more relaxed gameplay feel. Exploring the planets never felt more laid back than doing it from the comfort of having your hands rest however far apart you wanted. Sadly both of these can be said for any game on the switch and is not a new innovation that The Outer Worlds is bringing to the table.
The lack of graphics, controller precision, and empty feeling story made this an easy game to put down and move on from. Overall I would suggest you wait this one out until the price drops. The game feels like it’s trying to force a square peg into a round hole. For the price of a brand new game I would recommend a title that was made and developed for the Switch, you’ll get better gameplay, much better graphics and save yourself the time and headache.