The test of The Outer Worlds for Nintendo Switch is sometimes frustrating: There is a terrific role-playing game, the basic structure of which remains untouched on the Nintendo hybrid console. And yet in the end it is not enough for the big hit. The fault is - again - the technology. The implementation of the role play by Obsidian Entertainment is anything but flawless. Fortunately, the developers are already improving. Those who do not struggle with optical restrictions can still embark on the cosmic adventure. 


Granted, The Outer Worlds got off to a tough start on the Nintendo Switch. Long released for PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One, Obsidian Entertainment has also implemented the role-playing game for Nintendo's portable console. Great idea, that had worked well in the past for similarly complex role-playing games (think of the great port of The Witcher 3). In practice, the game struggles with a basic assumption that is not very appealing from a player's point of view: The Outer Worlds for Nintendo Switch is technically halved, at twice the price. 

The fact that experienced developers like Leonard Boyarsky or Timothy Cain are involved in the game arouses high expectations. Both have already had a hand in high-class titles, including Fallout and Vampire: Masquerade - Bloodlines.

The Outer Worlds: The fight with the fight

Countless hours could be immersed in the role-playing game on PC, Playstation 4 or Xbox One - and one was happy to do it. The Outer Worlds is a great collection of good story, weird characters and audio-visual art. On the Nintendo Switch, gamers have to make significant compromises.

The great story remains, as do the weird characters, but you can't hear or see anything from the appealing audio-visual presentation. The look is visibly less detailed, reduced in texture and sometimes looks as if you were playing The Outer Worlds with glass blocks in front of your eyes. Wasn't that to be expected? Definitive. Before the game was installed, it was clear that there wouldn't be too much left of the opulent look of the PC version on the Nintendo Switch. 

The launch trailer for The Outer Worlds for Nintendo Switch is atmospheric, but already suggests the stripped-down look:

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At this point, Nintendo's console has to struggle with a difficult basic question: Do such complex, large and technically demanding video games have to be implemented for the at least weaker console?

Anyone who has several consoles at home will say no. Such porting attempts are welcome for all others. In any case, Obsidian has not completely failed: the role-playing game also appeals to Nintendo's Switch, entertains at a high level, but has technical flaws. It would be half as bad if technology were just technology, but the flaws in The Outer Worlds have a direct effect on the playful level, i.e. the gameplay. This means that opponents can sometimes be more difficult to spot or target, especially over longer distances - and then especially in the handheld mode, which has been scaled down again.

The Outer Worlds then seems to suffer twice. Because opponents standing close together sometimes hardly differ in color, a group of opponents over a medium range can turn into an unrecognizable pixel clump that is only rectified when players have come close enough. Fans often struggle with this unwanted surprise effect. Sometimes it is difficult or impossible to recognize opponents, even though you are in their immediate vicinity. Only the marking above their heads signals their attention to the player - and vice versa. There are currently some construction sites that make the game noticeably more difficult on a purely technical level. Unnecessary.

In the cutscenes, the graphics still look acceptable. Image copyright: Private Division (Screenshot: Spielpunkt)

Thumbs up: The graphics still look acceptable in the cutscenes. Image copyright: Private Division (Screenshot: Spielpunkt)

Occasional jerking orgies also occur. When things get hectic on the screen, you run across a map area, the already low frame rate drops further. Fortunately, Obsidian Entertainment had already recognized the problem and is working on a performance patch that has since been officially announced. The developers will therefore iron out some technical quirks in the near future - which will have a positive effect on the gaming experience. You have to know that, you should accept that, then there is little in the way of having fun.

The Switch technology also has a beneficial effect on the gameplay experience in a few areas, such as when it comes to bullet time moments. Using the tactical extension of time in the fights is much more fun on the Nintendo Switch thanks to the gyro controller system - at the same time, the benefit of the skill increases, so that one could act completely different on the switch than with the high- end versions of the role-playing game, also in terms of the orientation of the character. However, the fights on the Switch are not as fluid and gripping as with the “originals”. 

Flawed but entertaining

Apart from the technical shortcomings, The Outer Worlds for Nintendo Switch is almost a 1: 1 implementation of the template. And that's just as well. The story unfolds step by step, time and again you meet wonderfully weird characters and their special problems. Many of the characters that you encounter in the course of the game are not only recognizable, they are unforgettable. The Outer Worlds is full of bizarre game moments and precisely then proves its strengths as a comprehensive role-playing game, also on the Nintendo Switch. 

The world is the star of the game anyway. Corporations rule the worlds in the Halcyon system. The sci-fi setting is not innovative, but it is one of the most profound in recent years. Although the locations on the Nintendo Switch do not develop the wow effects of the high-end versions, they are still atmospheric, even if the colorful retro look has to lose a lot of its charm. The Outer World is basically the visual contrast to modern, gloomy cyberpunk worlds - but overall it is no less merciless. The characters, trapped in their respective caste, also suffer in a colorful world. You are often confronted with this in the countless main and side missions that you have to or can complete. As a player you always have choices, including the fact that every character in The Outer Worlds can be eliminated easily. 

This shows how clearly the graphics for the switch version (here: handheld mode) have been scaled down. Image copyright: Private Division (Screenshot: Spielpunkt)

Here you can already see how clearly the graphics for the switch version (here: handheld mode) have been scaled down. Image copyright: Private Division (Screenshot: Spielpunkt)

Better than the brutal, better than the direct route, however, is a journey with many stops and thus many conversations. The same applies to The Outer Worlds on Nintendo Switch: You will have many, many dialogues. That doesn't sound particularly exciting at first, but it shouldn't give the impression that The Outer Worlds is boring. On the contrary: Obsidian's idea is one of the best of the genre and combines a multitude of factors that have been considered typical of a modern role-playing game since the Fallout games: in-depth character development, optional gameplay elements, action-oriented combat sequences and a focus on the combination of background story and game world. 

The fact that The Outer Worlds also stands out on the Nintendo Switch because of its profound gameplay is no surprise, because that was already the case with the high-end versions. Broken down to the role-playing aspects, The Outer World is at least as good as on the “big consoles” or the PC, with the Nintendo Switch the advantage of mobility is added. Carrying a game around and being able to play it anywhere works like a small bonus in multiplayer games; in a purely solo game, this is exactly a noticeable strength. Being able to play The Outer Worlds anywhere is a great option, for which you could even accept compromises in terms of looks - provided that the gameplay remains unaffected. If Obsidian Entertainment got the worst technical weaknesses under control with patches, The Outer Worlds for Nintendo Switch would get an enormous upgrade.

This is especially true because the pure feel of the game is so positive. This is not least due to the complexity of The Outer Worlds. To be able to do what you want in the world, to let your character act as you see fit, that is really big role-play cinema. The flood of possible decisions is the heart of this game, but the technology is a key element. The action-packed role-playing game with its multi-level tasks still works: the quest design is just too good.

The lack of detail sometimes causes pixel clumps and an overall washed-out look. Image copyright: Private Division (Screenshot: Spielpunkt)

The lack of detail sometimes causes pixel clumps and an overall washed-out look. Image copyright: Private Division (Screenshot: Spielpunkt)

In addition, there is the unconditional playful freedom: You end up with your character on a planet and from there you decide where the journey is going - and in which way. All the encounters that you have in the course of the game are fun. Being able to align your companions - there are six in total - with your own playing style is a terrific trick. Even better: they lead a life of their own, interact, even in secret. 

The level of detail with which the developers have worked out characters is one of the best that the role-playing genre currently has to offer. That is one of the reasons why the - sometimes sprawling - dialogues never get boring. It is expressly advisable to enjoy the discussions at this point. There is always the option to reduce dialogues to the essential elements for progress, but then you miss a lot of that charm that defines The Outer Worlds. What the experienced authors have created does not have to hide behind glossy role-playing games such as the ideal predecessor Fallout. 

Science fiction as western drama

Players experience the entire story from a first-person perspective. This ensures intense game moments when you roam around the settlements like a lonely space cowboy, always looking for the next thread of the quest. The small towns that players visit in the course are atmospheric: despite the enormous graphic downgrade, the Wild West charm unfolds noticeably.

Bizarre setting:

  • Sci-fi alternative world
  • dystopian capitalism
  • cosmic wild west mix 

From a premise reduced to the essentials - the player wakes up from cold sleep, then lands on planets - an extremely complex story unfolds. One encounters members of numerous factions, each pursuing their own goals; is confronted with powerful leaders, behind whose apparently morally questionable actions there is sometimes more, or has to make decisions that have drastic consequences foreseeable, but sometimes come as a surprise. The game world reflects what is happening in terms of the story. Everything looks like a single piece, fits together, fits together - with the exception of the optics, of course. 

In games it is mostly the big moments that distinguish a good title from a bad one - with The Outer Worlds it is the numerous details that turn a good role-playing game into a terrific role-playing game. 

Infobox

Number of players: Solo
Age: from 16 years
Playing time: 25+ hours of play
Difficulty: high
Long-term motivation: high

Publisher: Private Division
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Year of publication: 2020
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (also PC, Playstation, Xbox One)
Language: German
Cost: 45 Euro

Summary

Frankly, you have to have a bit of an ability to suffer in order to find your way into the Nintendo Switch version of The Outer Worlds. From a purely visual point of view, the handheld version in particular is an outline of the original. That's a shame, because games for Nintendo Switch should live from being able to enjoy them in mobile mode. You can't even say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, because what the developers are presenting with the port is the opposite of aesthetics. That is also a shame, because The Outer Worlds thrives on a retro-aesthetic design, the colorful game worlds full of details. 

Say goodbye to it and focus on the essence of RPG, then The Outer Worlds will work on Nintendo Switch. Doing what you want to do with the character, adapting your actions to the course of the game, that is the strength of the action role-playing game. It takes many hours until one has read everything, seen everything and heard everything - the sound is basically pretty good on Nintendo's console. Even more so if you play through The Outer Worlds multiple times to see the possible endings. 

The scenario Obsidian Entertainment puts in front of the player is excellent: a colorful world with slightly dark excerpts, weird figures en masse and a cosmic Wild West setting with socially critical influences. It is precisely in this combination that The Outer Worlds works as a role-playing game, also on the Switch. You shouldn't focus on the difficult fights or focus on the lack of detail, because that would hardly do justice to the developers' idea. Playing The Outer Worlds on Nintendo Switch has to mean not only wanting to be guided by looks as a gamer. The story and setting also work wonderfully in the slimmed-down version. The scenery is underlined by subtle, always appropriate background music.

In the end, it is difficult to decide whether the porting of the role-playing game was successful or not. From a purely technical point of view, many flaws remain: a partly shabby look, performance drops, reloading times. At the same time, Obsidian uses the possibilities of the Nintendo Switch for improvements, for example in the area of ​​motion control. That leaves the question of whether it cannot be done better in principle or whether the developers were temporarily asleep. The comparison with good porting à la Bioshock or Borderlands lags: you shouldn't rely on that when it comes to the quality assessment of The Outer Worlds as a much more complex and modern role-playing game. 

The fact is: you don't get a glossy product with this port and you pay a considerable surcharge for the possible mobility. But it's also a fact: You can and will have a lot of fun with The Outer Worlds on Nintendo Switch. The entertainment value is high.


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