Review: Overwatch for Switch isn’t definitive but still delights
Blizzard’s shooter trades smooth performance for handheld play
- Game Director
- Jeff Kaplan
- Key Credits
- Chris Metzen (Creative Director), William Petras (Art Director), Mike Elliott (Technical Director), Derek Duke (Music Director)
For Overwatch, character design and teamplay are the magic ingredients for why this hero shooter has achieved legendary status since its release in 2016.
Given its colourful roster, utopian message, and PG-rated violence, it also seems an obvious fit for the Switch, which it now turns out Blizzard has wanted from day one.
Compared to the devilry of Doom or the sorcery of The Witcher 3, Overwatch is game you’d expect to require fewer miracles to run on Switch. Indeed, it even manages to hit 900p resolution when docked. There’s nonetheless noticeable tradeoffs, such as the halved the framerate at 30fps, though we found this to be at least consistent and without input lag.
For some matches, character models take longer to load, leaving everyone to appear as just orange orbs lasting anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds, though fortunately this is only during the initial skirmishes when you’re waiting for the match to begin proper.
In TV mode, Overwatch for Switch clearly loses out to other platforms with its lower resolution and framerate, albeit in a nonetheless serviceable state. Worse still, if you’ve already sunken hours into it in the past, there’s currently no way to transfer progression, so you’ll have to start from scratch to unlock all the hundreds of cosmetics via its now infamous loot box system.
Play in handheld mode however and these blemishes feel much less significant, especially in the thick of a fierce payload bottleneck when heroes on both sides are clashing and letting loose their abilities. Even as a lapsed Overwatch player, jumping back in to old favourite heroes, whether it’s lining up Mei’s icicle headshots or raining justice from above as Pharah, is a delight, as are the tense tussles over control maps in nail-biting comebacks.
Whether you’re a newcomer or a lapsed player, you’re still getting the fully up-to-date Overwatch experience with the Switch edition. That means a roster of 31 playable heroes, a bevy of new maps, modes and seasonal events (the Switch version launches in time for the Halloween Terror event), as well as the recent implementation of role queuing to ensure balanced teams.
“Play in handheld mode however and the blemishes feel much less significant, especially in the thick of a fierce payload bottleneck when heroes on both sides are clashing and letting loose their abilities.”
Switch players do at least have a slight advantage in controls with the inclusion of gyro aiming. Unlike in Splatoon 2, both thumbstick and gyro can be used at the same time – in our experience, the thumbstick is still the go-to, with just a slight tilt of the controller or Switch to line things up perfectly.
If you’re playing handheld, you also have the option to plug in a headset to make use of voice chat just like in Fortnite. Hearing other chatter during a few matches confirms voice chat does function in-game instead of via Nintendo’s ridiculous phone app. But even if you don’t utter a single word, Overwatch already provides ample communication through clever contextual audio cues and voice lines.
Blizzard also handily bypasses other annoying aspects of playing online with Switch. Forget random friend codes, creating a group or joining a friend’s game works via the game’s menu screen just like it does on the other platforms.
For owners of multiple Switches, progression is tied to Blizzard’s server so you don’t have to download a cloud save or transfer your data between systems every time. This does however mean clicking a tab consenting to sharing your Nintendo account with Blizzard Battle.net every time you log in, prompting an annoying notification to your emails – we can only hope this goes the same way as that Bethesda registration prompt in the recent Doom re-releases.
Overwatch may not feel as definitive an experience on Switch like last year’s Diablo III Eternal Collection, but another place to play one of the best team shooters of this generation is by no means a bad thing.
A handsome port of one of the best team shooters of our time, if not necessarily the best place to play it.
- Still the original and best hero shooter
- Well suited to handheld play and gyro controls
- Supports in-game voice chat and bypasses Nintendo’s other annoying restrictions
- 30fps framerate not ideal for a shooter