“Heroes never die!” Mercy’s now famous line rang through my Nintendo Switch speakers as I played Overwatch for the first time in nearly three years. Blizzard’s hero shooter has changed a lot in a few years, with new characters and maps being added over the years. Despite this however, Overwatch was still satisfying to jump back into the game that shaped much of my 2016. Though far from perfect, I can honestly say that Overwatch is one of the most fun experiences I’ve had on the Switch all year.
To start, the Nintendo Switch port added an option that was so...Nintendo. Gyro controls by many in the Nintendo community, of which I’m a member, are a beloved mechanic that must be in every game on the Nintendo Switch.
Just to be fair, I tried them and they do not work for Overwatch. They are oversensitive and require whoever is holding the Switch or the joycons to be extra careful not to make any movements that aren’t intentional. Further, they aren’t very accurate. While controllers don’t offer the accuracy of a keyboard and mouse, playing Overwatch on the Switch in gyro-mode offers less accuracy than a controller. I’m not the best player when it comes to shooters so I don’t need another obstacle.
In the original release of Overwatch, quick play allowed you to select any character and at any respawn, you could change to any character. The problem that this posed was that everyone wanted to play damage and no one wanted to play support. Even as the game told everyone what kind of players were needed, players would stay locked in with their choices. A major improvement was made in Overwatch with the introduction of choosing your role before joining a game. As someone who plays support primarily, I choose support and get into a game where I am only able to select support characters.
In the arcade mode, players are still able to select classic quickplay for those times when they want the freedom to bounce around to a variety of characters. So whenever I want to get a quick Junkrat fix in the middle of the game, I select Classic Quickplay. Classic Quickplay also gives players the opportunity during the duration of a single game to try new characters. Other arcade modes allowed for this as well. In the Mystery Character mode, every time I respawned, I got to play a different character. Some characters I realized very quickly I wanted to never play again. Other characters I decided I should explore more later.
The Nintendo Switch version had some major problems when it came to framerate. Any time there were a lot of assets on the screen, the normally stable framerate of 30fps would take a noticeable dip. In most cases, this was only momentary and wouldn’t affect gameplay. There were times however when the game dropped frames so much that it became unplayable especially at times of heavy action when the game had to process a lot going on.
The graphics were the biggest let-down in the Nintendo Switch’s version of Overwatch. Aside from the framerate of 30 fps, Digital Foundry reports that the game achieves 900p in docked mode and 720p in handheld. Weirdly, the handheld mode is much more playable. The framerate was much more unstable in docked mode and made me want to play only in handheld mode. Either way, the game suffers from the Nintendo Switch’s hardware limitations but not so much that the game is unable to be played.
Another problem with the game that I had hoped would be fixed by now is a lack of a story mode. The game opens up with Winston calling on all the former members of Overwatch to come and help with a threat against humanity. This despite humanity turning on them after the last time they saved the world. The premise sounds promising and yet when you start playing, it’s just all the former members of Overwatch fighting each other in objective based matches.
I know there’s digital shorts to flesh out the story but a good campaign mode that only changes slightly based on whatever character you choose would be so much better. Believe me, I understand that for many people the expanded universe for Overwatch is perfect. I personally am just not interested in having that as my only look into the storyline. I’d much rather see a campaign mode alongside it.
A major problem I ran into had to do with matchmaking times for matches. Skirmishes is a feature used for filler to keep you from just sitting around waiting for a match. They should be minimal but at times, I was waiting in a skirmish that was 5 minutes or more. How clever to have me playing the game for 5 minutes while I wait to find a match, but there is no reason it should have taken a full 5 minutes or longer to find a game. As a match filled up, players were assigned to a team and at times, my team would be filling up so there would be 3 or 4 people in the match but I couldn’t actually fight with them. If matchmaking is going to take so long, perhaps teams shouldn’t matter in the skirmish.
Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying I didn’t have fun. In fact, Overwatch is insanely fun even on the Nintendo Switch. I’m not saying it’s an ugly game on the Switch. 720p in handheld mode and 900p in docked mode is passable despite it not being on par with any other platform it’s on. I’m not saying Overwatch lives or dies on the lack of story mode. Actually, Overwatch seems to live on the multiplayer despite my objections to a lack of story mode. In all, Overwatch is a great hero shooter no matter where you play it.