I adore Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. If you’re a longtime reader of DualShockers, you probably remember that I reviewed the game when it launched last October and rewarded it with a 9.5/10, which is still the highest score I’ve ever given to a game in my time as a reviewer. It’s safe to say that I’m a big fan of this franchise and especially this sequel in particular.
At Bethesda Gameplay Day, an event held by Bethesda Softworks during last weekend’s PAX East, I was able to play the upcoming version of Wolfenstein II for the Nintendo Switch which was available to be demoed by the public for the first time. I was incredibly excited to see how Wolfenstein II would make the leap to Nintendo’s console but unfortunately, I was met with a rough experience.
The most obvious thing that myself and surely many others will immediately notice when playing Wolfenstein II on Switch is the difference in framerate. Much like the port of DOOM for Switch, Wolfenstein II is running at 30fps compared to 60fps on its platform counterparts. Typically, I’m not one to gripe too much about framerate and I firmly believe that there are plenty of shooters that run well enough at 30fps, but man, Wolfenstein II looked very rough in this manner.
During my ten to fifteen minute demo that took place entirely in the Switch’s handheld mode, the framerate bothered me greatly. I can’t say this with certainty, but there were even times when playing that I felt like the framerate may have even dipped below 30fps. This was most noticeable to me when smashing crates and seeing the individual splinters from the box slowly bust apart. Everything seemed to move in slow-motion during these instances. Again, I’m not one to gripe about frames too much, but this demo was so choppy at times that I began to feel a bit queasy by the end of it because of what it was doing to my eyes.
Luckily, when I was able to get somewhat used to the way the game performed, I found that the shooting mechanics and chaos that can ensue within Wolfenstein II was exactly the same on Switch. These moments were few and far between, but when I was able to look past the performance issues, I could see that the same great game was still found within.
Also worth mentioning is that I played this demo primarily using a Pro Controller, and it felt quite comfortable with the shooter’s button layout. I did switch over to use the Joy-Cons at one moment, but they felt too cramped for my hands and I soon went back to the Pro Controller. If you do play by attaching the Joy-Cons to the side of the Switch screen though, you can turn on gyro aiming, which allows you to aim by moving the Switch itself rather than using the right thumbstick. I only tested this feature out briefly and didn’t find it to my own personal liking, so I turned it off not too long after.
To give you hope that this port won’t be without saving, I want to mention that I did see Wolfenstein II running on a docked Switch at Nintendo’s booth on the PAX East show floor. While I didn’t go hands-on with this version of the game, I did watch some other folks play it and I noticed that it seemed to be much more stable than compared to when playing in handheld mode. The 30fps was still a bit jarring, but the game seemed much more sturdy in this state. The Switch is a nifty little device because of its novelty as a handheld, but going off of the eye test alone, this might be one game you’d be better off playing while docked.
There’s still time for Panic Button Games, the talented studio working on porting Wolfenstein II to Switch, to iron out any bugs and performance issues ahead of Wolfenstein II‘s launch on Switch. Currently, there is no release date for the Switch version other than a broad window of 2018, so hopefully they take any feedback from this PAX event and do their best to improve the game where needed.
I really think that Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is one of the best games from 2017, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is even remotely interested. That said, if you’ve been purposefully holding off from playing so that you could experience it on the Switch, my early impressions would tell you that you might want to reconsider. Regardless of where you play Wolfenstein II, I still think you’ll have a blast, but the Switch might end up being the least-ideal platform to experience it to its fullest.