Overwatch Nintendo Switch impressions - Nerf this

Blizzard's hit team shooter has arrived on Nintendo Switch, but how does it hold up? Our impressions.

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Overwatch took the gaming world by storm when it launched back in 2016. Receiving critical acclaim and snatching awards left and right, Blizzard had a smash hit on their hands. A large part of Overwatch’s charm comes from its colorful roster of playable characters, each bursting with personality. Since release, Overwatch has expanded into the fray of Esports with OWL, and have added a number of new heroes and maps to the game. Since 2017, the Nintendo Switch has offered a second shot of life for past titles, offering new ways to experience familiar stories. Overwatch joins the ranks of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt as some of the most iconic games of the decade to get the Switch port treatment.

Since Overwatch still hasn’t hopped aboard the cross progression and crossplay train, jumping into the game on Switch is a fresh start. You can immediately jump into training, quick play, or arcade mode and start gaining exp. As with all versions of Overwatch, you must reach level 25 before you can participate in ranked play. 

Heroes never die

I was extremely into Overwatch at the peak of its popularity, but admittedly fell off in subsequent years. That being said, jumping into Overwatch on the Switch didn’t feel foreign at all. The controls felt easy to pickup, and movement felt fine. I spent the majority of my time in handheld mode. Having Overwatch on the go is a novelty for sure, but I can’t say it’s the best way to play. If you’re familiar with Overwatch, you know that action can get hectic really fast. This is where I ran into some concerning performance issues. The Switch version of Overwatch runs at a locked 30 frames per second. This wouldn’t be as big of an issue if the game didn’t dip below that framerate in the most crucial moments. When making the final push on an objective, or when a few ultimates are going off simultaneously, the Switch is clearly struggling to keep up.

These same problems persist in docked mode, seeing as the 30fps lock is consistent across all modes of play. Another reason that Overwatch and the Switch aren’t a perfect match is Overwatch’s requirement to constantly be connected to wifi. The beauty of having your favorite titles on Switch is that you can take them with you on the go, and conveniently jump in and out of gameplay. With Overwatch being entirely online, you’re pretty limited in mobility and variety of ways to play. To add on top of that, I found myself constantly having to reconnect to the servers because my Switch went to sleep, or I spent too much time in another application while the game was running. 

In need of healing

The Switch port of Overwatch is the same version available on other platforms, with little deviation. However, the devs do try and take advantage of the Switch’s unique tech to directly change the way you play. We all know by now that Nintendo is in love with motion controls, as evident with their last few console releases. The Switch tablet itself, along with the joycons are configured to control a game without pressing a button. Overwatch integrates this tech with “gyro-aiming.” Gyro-aiming allows players to aim and move the camera with a tilt of their system. I feel like gyro-aiming certainly has a place in Overwatch, but it still feels clunky at times. Personally, I found it to be an easier way of lining up precise shots when aiming down my sights as Ana or Widowmaker. The downside of gyro-aiming is that it’s still active when you’re out of combat, traversing the map. Often times I was playing in handheld mode and naturally moved or turned, only to notice my character took a hard left and is now running in the wrong direction. I constantly had to use the analog sticks to readjust. Now, sensitivities can be toyed with in the settings, but not in a way that ever felt right. If the whole motion control thing just isn’t your jam, you can turn it off all together. 

The release of Overwatch on the Switch was cleverly timed to synchronize with the kick off of Halloween Horror, the yearly event centered around everybody’s favorite spooky holiday. Therefore, players can hop in and try their luck at scoring one of the latest themed skins or other cosmetics from the Halloween loot boxes.

Justice rains from above

In just a few short years, Overwatch has already cemented itself in video game history. From its fresh take on the hero shooter, to its over-the-top charm, There’s a lot to be seen in Overwatch. However, the game simply feels stunted on Nintendo’s console/handheld hybrid. Constant performance issues and a half-baked motion control integration bog down what could be an excitingly fun new way to play one of gaming's modern classics.

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. Donovan is currently studying broadcast journalism at Bowie State University with hopes to join the Shacknews team full time after graduation. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

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