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The Outer Worlds on Switch Is a Fun, Functional Mess

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After I got a Switch Lite, I became a lowkey port-begger. I don’t jump into corporate Twitter feeds or comment spaces under articles and yell about it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to! I don’t publicly whine when I game I’m interested in doesn’t drop on Switch, but I do pester Jenni at every playtest opportunity. I just prefer playing games on handhelds; it isn’t more complicated than that. I even played my 3DS more when I had the OG Switch, because that slab of plastic was a bit too chunky for my insular comforts. So, long story short (it isn’t actually long), now I’m playing the new The Outer Worlds Switch port, and my personal monkey’s paw has curled a finger. But it’s not a full curl. It’s like, slightly curled, like more of a bend really.

I played The Outer Worlds a bit when it first came out on my Xbox One X, because I was fascinated by its presence. It’s basically a modern Fallout game without all the baggage and intellectual dishonesty from the Bethesda Softworks series, and the more subdued ambition and writing chops of the New Vegas folks. But it’s also more streamlined and focused than those Fallout sequels, in that it’s much smaller in scale and has less fluff for fluff’s sake. I didn’t stick with it though, and I’ll direct the class back to the first paragraph for why. Nothing against the game really, I just can’t comfortably sit and play a big ol’ RPG on a TV screen. It’s too demanding and I have too much going on upstairs for that. Meanwhile, I’m 40 hours into Dragon Quest XI S and still plugging away.

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Naturally, my weird tastes in how I play games means I’ve played further into The Outer Worlds on Switch than I ever did on Xbox, and it isn’t just because it’s for work. I’m genuinely enjoying it; there’s a fuzzy joy in playing a game of this ilk on a handheld platform. It’s a very powerful novelty and I’ve grown to understand it well with my time on this game, especially because the visuals and frame rate are also very fuzzy. The Outer Worlds on Switch is by no means an optimal experience, and would have probably been the anti-port crowd’s biggest ammunition against “port-begging” if WWE 2K18 didn’t already exist. Everything about The Outer Worlds Switch is unstable, straight up. The UI and loading screens look good, though. Silver linings!

But despite that instability, I’m still really enjoying myself. It has everything I enjoy about this style of game: the skill points, the dialogue trees, the weird environments and characters, the cynical worldview. And while sometimes the frame rate dips during a gunfight, and the textures get so blurry I can’t tell what an object in the environment is supposed to be, it’s never so bad the experience is compromised. The Outer Worlds Switch actually runs relatively well in handheld mode, and certainly better than some other ports I’ve played of less demanding games. There’s so much to cram into the Switch here, and the sheer ambition of this project is impressive. It’s deeply flawed and the worst version of this game from a technical standpoint, but it’s still the same game, but on a very different hardware.

Once again I want to stress that The Outer Worlds on Nintendo Switch stops just short of being a disaster. I’m well aware how much I’m dancing around apologia territory. Anyone who is invested in video game fidelity will be disgusted with me right now, possibly as a whole human being. As a longtime handheld gamer, I’m used to fuzzy visuals and dipping frame rates, and either bad ports or no ports at all. Instead, this is a mediocre port that is still impressive when viewed from a certain angle. The whole game is here, and it works, and I’m having fun playing it. It’s a far cry from Borderlands 2’s unplayable PS Vita port, and as I’ve seen in the homebrew chatterspace, there’s room for possible optimization from the developer. Could it have been better? Perhaps. It could have also been a lot worse. Does that make it worthwhile? Well, it depends on how you feel about that first paragraph.

This version of The Outer Worlds is currently available on the Nintendo Switch. The version that didn’t touch fuzzy and get dizzy is on the PlayStation 4, the PC, and the Xbox One.

Lucas White
Lucas writes about video games a lot. Sometimes he plays them. Every now and then he enjoys one. To get on his good side, say nice things about Dragon Quest and Musou. Never mention the Devil May Cry reboot in his presence. Backed Bloodstained on Kickstarter but all his opinions on it are correct regardless.