Wolfenstein II is a Technically Impressive Switch Port that Suffers in Handheld Mode
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is one of 2017's best games but its Switch port should only be played by those that can't play it on other platforms.
I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll say it again: I adore Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. I think MachineGames’ latest shooter is one of the best that we have seen in this generation and I am constantly vouching for those who have not played it to give it a shot. With all of this being said, Wolfenstein II’s arrival on the Nintendo Switch has left me torn. While it gives new players a chance to experience the game’s fantastic story, it’s absolutely the least-ideal version to play.
Let’s get the good news out of the way first. Panic Button, the studio that ported Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus to the Switch has done some incredible work even to get this game running on Nintendo’s handheld-hybrid. The fact that Wolfenstein II can be played to completion without any hitches — at least that I saw of — is a feat in and of itself and port developer Panic Button deserves endless credit for this accomplishment.
That being said, the changes that had to be made to Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus to get it to run on Switch has dramatically hampered the experience. Understandably, the graphics, framerate, and the overall performance have been brought down to allow it to run on the less-powerful Switch. None these downgrades are desirable, but Wolfenstein II is still very much playable in this state.
Of all of the downgrades for Switch, the one thing that I took issue with the most were the graphics. Having previously played Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus on PS4 Pro, the transition to playing with these new visuals was harsh. I also found that these graphics also significantly hurt the noticeability of objects in the environment, a complaint that many (myself included) have already had with Wolfenstein II on other platforms. If you haven’t played the game before, you might not have these same complaints. But in my time with Wolfenstein II on Switch it was something that I just couldn’t shake.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of Wolfenstein II on Switch is that it is at its worst in handheld mode. The most noticeable performance issues that I had when playing the game occurred when playing in this way. Additionally, the Joy-Cons do not feel good to use (specifically in this shooter) due to the layout of the triggers and the stubbiness of the joysticks. Aiming feels explicitly off when using the Joy-Cons. I also often found that my hands felt cramped the longer I played in handheld mode.
It’s unfortunate that I had the most issues with Wolfenstein II when playing in handheld mode because this is the game’s true selling point for Switch compared to that of its Xbox One, PS4, and PC counterparts. In my experience, the best way to play the game on Switch was to just use a Pro Controller and play it on my TV screen. If I’m going to play it in this manner, then I might as well just play the entire game on another platform to experience it at a higher resolution and increased performance.
I know I’ve been overly negative on this version of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus but I again want to stress how phenomenal I do think the content within is. This is both a story and an experience that I think anyone who loves shooters should be sure to see for themselves. All of my comments regarding the campaign from my original review last year still hold true. If you only have access to a Nintendo Switch, I would still absolutely tell you to play Wolfenstein II.
It’s impressive that Panic Button was even able to get Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus running on Switch and for that reason alone I can respect this port. Still, I can’t in good faith recommend you play this version if you own any of the other platforms that Wolfenstein II is available on, mainly due to the imperfect nature of how it performs in handheld mode. I’m so glad that Bethesda decided to bring Wolfenstein II to the Switch, but that said, it’s easily the worst way to play one of my favorite shooters ever.