The Outer Worlds is easily one of the top RPG’s of the previous year. Debuting in 2019 and garnering Game of the Year attention, it stands as a triumph among developer Obsidian’s recent projects. Now, for the first time, The Outer Worlds makes its long-awaited debut on the Nintendo Switch console.
The Outer Worlds Details
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Private Division
Genre: Action role-playing
Modes: Single player
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
A solid space-faring adventure
The Outer Worlds is an enjoyable narrative experience. It has multiple branching paths of dialogue and story events. As a result it plays out much like a “choose your own adventure”, with plenty of exploration in between.
The tone of the script involves a heavy dose of black comedy. Clearly there’s some over-the-top satire involving the absurdity of blind devotion to capitalism. However, underneath the farcical surface level there are deeper social issues to be found.
All-in-all The Outer Worlds isn’t nearly as lengthy in a linear fashion as similar games. The average play through takes somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 hours without rushing. Moreover, speed runners and campaign main-liners can naturally reach the end in significantly less.
That said, much of the game’s lasting power comes in its replayability. Just like the aforementioned “choose your own adventure” genre, there is plenty to gain by going back and starting again. The entire landscape of your space odyssey is malleable to how you elect to shape it. Above all, this is the kind of game that will have you returning again and again to try a different path than the last time around.
The Outer Worlds hits all the right notes from a gameplay perspective as well. As an action RPG, its first-person shooter mechanics are on point. This is obviously pretty important nobody is going to want to go through a deep narrative adventure if the interwoven action moments are a let down.
Luckily, there is plenty of variety to be had and customization to be done on with your cache of weapons. The tools of your enemies’ demise can be upgraded, equipped with mods, given elemental abilities, and essentially toyed around with ad nauseam. You’ll likely want to find a favourite handful of weapons that suit your play style, and further invest skill points in their associated category.
Furthermore, Players have the ability to slow down time, which creates an additional sense of power that is immensely satisfying. Of course there will be those who still prefer the speed of a “charge in with guns blazing” approach. However the time-slowing mechanic also allows for a stealthier and more calculated approach. Not to mention the ability to get out of a bind at key moments.
Additionally, there is also the option to recruit companions along the way, who can assist in your attack efforts. As a result you can choose to play solo, or bring along a posse of AI companions for an experience with a stronger RPG party vibe. Either way, investing skill points appropriately can assist in bolstering your effectiveness in whichever road you choose to go down.
Time for a new resolution
It’s pretty much a given that any game that is porting to the Nintendo Switch after debuting on more powerful platforms is going to require some concessions. In that regard, the ultimate goal of a good port is generally to optimize a game to run as well as possible on a given platform. Unfortunately, this time around those concessions are fairly blatant, and difficult to ignore.
The primary issue with The Outer Worlds on Nintendo Switch is the game’s resolution. The developer states that the “target” resolution while the game is in docked mode is 1080p at 30 frames per second. However, in practice, its difficult to imagine the game regularly hits even this modest benchmark.
The resolution is poor enough that most environments seem to have an almost hazy or out-of-focus appearance. With previous experience playing on both PC and Xbox One, the disparity is obvious. However, I don’t necessarily believe you need this frame of reference to load up The Outer Worlds on Switch and realize that something just isn’t quite right.
The best comparison I could think of hearkens back to my days as a film projectionist. Back when we still used analog projectors with manual focus, anything less than a perfect adjustment would leave the picture looking blurry. Frankly, this is the same feeling I get when I play the game on the Switch console. I perpetually have the urge in the back of my mind that I need to make the slightest twist of a focus dial that doesn’t actually exist.
Keep close to the dock
With the graphical performance in docked mode left wanting, I decided to see if the game fared any better in handheld mode. In a disappointing turn of events however, it’s the opposite that proves true. The resolution is even worse when playing The Outer Worlds undocked.
Here the “target” drops to 720p at 30 frames per second, making the disparity in quality even more glaring. While the game is in docked mode, I find the poor resolution to be unfortunate, but not unplayable. In handheld mode however, I’m not even sure the quality of The Outer Worlds story and game play are enough to make me want to jump back in to its otherwise immersive world.
Typically, it’s handheld mode that saves most ports on the Nintendo Switch console. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said “sure, the overall package is better on a more powerful console—but with Switch you can play on the go”! Sadly, even the novelty of portable gaming can’t redeem this sub-par port.
The Outer Worlds is a fantastic action RPG, but the Switch port leaves something to be desired
From its engaging narrative and humorous dialogue to its exciting gameplay, there’s plenty to love about The Outer Worlds. That said, it’s very difficult to recommend the Nintendo Switch version over any other platform on which it is available. There is so much lost is the resolution, textures, and overall ambiance that it’s simply just not the same game visually.
Of course, if the Switch truly is your console of choice, then I still believe The Outer Worlds is worth playing. You’ll have to temper your expectations going in however, and I would strongly recommend sticking to docked mode whenever possible.
+ Great story with lots of branching options
+ Fun gameplay with smooth combat and weapon customization
– Surprisingly poor graphical performance
– Performs even more poorly in handheld mode
OVERALL ASSESSMENT THE OUTER WORLDS
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5