The Outer Worlds (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Justin Prinsloo 03.07.2020

Review for The Outer Worlds on Nintendo Switch

More than seven months after it released on PS4, Xbox One and PC, 2019's refreshing RPG hit The Outer Worlds has made it onto the Nintendo Switch. Originally slated for a March 2020 release, this version was delayed three months due to the impact of COVID-19 on Chinese-based studio Virtuos, the Private Division-owned studio responsible for bringing it to the Switch. After a lengthy wait, this ambitious port is now out in the wild and ready to take on-the-go.

The Outer Worlds is a sci-fi satire of space-age capitalism developed by the RPG veterans at Obsidian Entertainment. The team responsible for what many have dubbed a "science-fiction Fallout" has a proven track-record for crafting meaningful and distinct RPGs; included in its repertoire are titles such as Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2. From a gameplay and narrative standpoint, The Outer Worlds lives up to this seal of excellence.

The experience is full of enough charm and humour to stock a sitcom writer's room for a decade, boasting a sense of personality that only passionately-conceived AA titles seem capable of pulling off. Primary and supporting characters alike are fleshed-out and believable, full of amusing anecdotes about their satirically depressing lives. In tandem with the grim dystopian undertones elsewhere in the story, this bolsters the title's believability and contributes to a uniquely compelling sense of dark humour.

The Outer Worlds wears its inspirations on its sleeve. There's a distinct Fallout vibe here that instead of feeling contrived feels completely natural. In fact, it's a better Fallout than the more recent Fallout titles, and perhaps the best game of its kind since Fallout: New Vegas. The gameplay lives up to the Obsidian standard, with some excellent character customisation that paves the way for unique progression, and combat that while not revolutionary is snappy and enjoyable. Aiming makes use of the Switch's gyro functionality for finer control. While not quite as responsive as it is in other titles, it still makes a valuable difference.

Screenshot for The Outer Worlds on Nintendo Switch

Content-wise, everything from the versions available on superior hardware is intact, but that is unfortunately where the similarities end. Sadly, The Outer Worlds is an absolute nightmare to look at on the Switch. The graphics are basically set to potato-mode in order to run on the system, with muddied textures obscuring practically all of the visual style present in the title's initial release. The frame-rate rarely matches the targeted 30fps, instead dipping to the low 20s in populated areas and often even lower during busy combat sequences. It can't quite be called unplayable but it's cutting it awfully close.

NPC activity has also been pared back at the cost of leaving many settlements feeling sparse and uninhabited. Given that its sense of charm relies so heavily on the universe feeling busy and teeming with life, this causes the experience to take a hit It's somewhat more bearable when playing docked but in handheld its flaws are magnified. All this being said, it would be unfair to label The Outer Worlds's Switch port a total failure. The aforementioned charm and strong story manage to support it despite the sizeable loss in graphical fidelity, but the visuals need more work before it can join the ranks of port greats.

All things considered, the compromises made to get The Outer Worlds to run on the Switch are arguably too high to justify a port in this condition. There is hope, however, as Obsidian has communicated that Virtuos is working on a performance patch which will hopefully address the worst of the visual issues. Not even those Switch ports that are now examples of porting miracles like The Witcher 3 were released in their current states of excellence, and so there's a chance that The Outer Worlds can be patched into something a little more exemplary. That being said, gameplay- and content-wise it's still the same fantastic game it was half a year ago, managing to retain the core essence of what made it truly brilliant, but this is far and away the inferior version. It has lost a lot over the course of this downgrade, and in light of what people know the Switch is truly capable of, it's difficult to recommend it above the graphically superior home console and PC variants.

Screenshot for The Outer Worlds on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

The Outer Worlds's appearance on the Nintendo Switch is welcome due to the fact that it was one of 2019's best titles. However, while still fun to play, it doesn't leverage the Switch's hardware effectively and is subsequently unpleasant to look at. This has a big impact given that the game's charm on other home consoles and PC is due in large part to its visuals. For this reason it's difficult to celebrate it until it receives a substantial performance patch.

Developer

Obsidian Entertainment

Publisher

Private Division

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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