DOOM for Nintendo Switch

★★ ☆ ☆☆ — Pushed to the limits

DOOM for Nintendo Switch

DOOM (2016) is almost certainly the only title of this generation that I’ve played straight through twice — once on Xbox One and again on PlayStation 4 — and in my mind it’s a first-person, singleplayer masterpiece.

Especially when compared to narrative-focused single player experiences, DOOM feels like a pure, furious video game, the kind you’d see in the background of a terrible CBS cop-show, and I love it for that reason. It’s all game.

Yet the Nintendo Switch port is jarring in more ways than one.

The good news is that this is an alright port when you keep the Switch hardware in mind. Due to the portable nature of the console, the game looks surprisingly nice, especially in portable mode. And if you are planning on playing this game primarily on-the-go then it’s a passable experience. At first it may seem to be a little constrained if you have played DOOM before on a home console, but the gameplay is just as fun and almost as frantic as in its previous iterations.

Though it isn’t close to being as perfect as DOOM on more powerful consoles. As a person who’s played a lot of DOOM, this port was, for at least the first 10 minutes, super jarring and hard to look at. Even now, after spending time away from the game, it takes me literal minutes to get used to the port’s limitations. Regular slowdowns are also the norm.

While a low framerate usually doesn’t bother me, DOOM’s focus on fast, fluid movement and violence means the Switch port can feel stiff and, especially on a big screen, look terrible. The resolution of the game, even when docked, is very clearly reduced, and noticeably too. And the impact of dropping the framerate from 60FPS to 30FPS has a real effect on the gameplay. Gameplay captures just don’t realistically portray just how big this change is. There are also easily distinguishable drops below 30FPS, while Digital Foundry has noted the game’s frame pacing issues, which result in even less buttery visuals.

Glory Kill’s, for example, look a lot more strained on Switch, while the movement around levels feels a hell of a lot more clunky due to the limited framerate. And again, while this wouldn’t affect many games in such a drastic way, say for example a Skyrim or more story-heavy game, there’s no denying it hurts DOOM’s central focus on speed. The visuals also look a bit more muddy, though it is still an impressive mobile adaption.

If you only want to play DOOM on your TV and already own a PlayStation 4, an Xbox One or a PC then I really can’t recommend this port. The graphical and performance downgrades really take away from the near perfect campaign of the title, and since this is a new port, it means you’re paying more for an objectively worse version of the game.

If you plan on playing DOOM entirely in portable mode then this isn’t a bad port, but it still really does bring into focus the Switch’s limitations, particularly the small size of the Joy-Cons when directly connected to the Switch. The need for constant camera movement means it’s a hard game to play even in a stationary environment, and I couldn’t imagine trying to keep it all together in a moving train or car.

Really this is the first example of a game that pushes the Switch to its limits, for better or worse. And if you think you can ignore the limitations, this is still a fine version of the game. But it is undoubtedly a downgrade, and reminds me of the days of playing Wii ports in contrast to the Xbox 360.

At its core it’s still the same game, and yet it isn’t.