XCOM 2 Has a Shaky Landing on Nintendo Switch
While XCOM 2 is playable on Nintendo Switch, it has noticeable downresing and FPS lag. It's far from the definitive way to play, but Switch diehards might love it.
XCOM was one of the first PC games to hook me. I fell in love with its tense moments, challenging tactics, and base building. I felt horrible when my units died, and screamed with rage when they missed high accuracy attacks. In fact, XCOM was really my introduction into turn-based tactics, a genre that I love and that XCOM 2 dominates.
I’d say that XCOM 2 is undoubtedly one of the best turn-based tactics games of the last decade. Its procedurally generated levels, challenging difficulties, DLC expansions, and the modding scene has managed to keep players invested in the game long term. With XCOM 2, one playthrough is far from the full experience; with a difficulty change and procedurally generated levels, each playthrough is entirely different from the last.
Given its level of replayability and intense tactical gameplay, I was excited that XCOM 2 was coming to Nintendo Switch. After all, having a game like XCOM on the go sounds amazing! Unfortunately, XCOM 2 is one of the most lackluster Switch ports that I’ve played. Although the game is 100% playable from start to finish, and still makes for a solid time, I can’t recommend this port because other platforms offer better value, making the Switch version far from the definitive way to play.
Right off the bat, my first issue with this port is the download size. Now, for others, this might be a non-factor, but my Switch is not my primary gaming device. I typically use it for Nintendo exclusives and for when I am traveling or away from my PC at college. This means I have almost no reason to upgrade the system’s memory card. With that being said, the XCOM 2 Collection full download size on Switch is around 30 GB, which for me meant uninstalling and archiving all other data on my Switch just to play the game. Even those who buy the physical version will need to download around 24 GB from the eShop in order to play, as the cartridge only holds 6.5 GB of data. Don’t get me wrong, XCOM 2 is a wonderful game to keep me busy on the go, but I didn’t necessarily want to delete Nintendo Switch staple Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in order to play it.
Once I got into the game things went relatively well. The prologue ran smoothly, and although it’s obvious that the game is slightly downresed, it still looks great on the Switch’s screen. Missions, in general, run pretty well without much FPS loss, making the classic XCOM gameplay a clear highlight of this port. Tactically sneaking into cover and launching devastating attacks on your alien opponents is where this version shines. After all, the gameplay is king, and it’s clear that Virtuos had that in mind when porting the game; however, not all aspects of XCOM 2 run this smoothly.
The headquarters/base area that you visit between outings is a perfect example of extreme frame loss. Within seconds of my first time loading into the base, I could tell that the game was absolutely tanking. The downresing is even more obvious here making the game look unappealing. At times it also felt like the FPS was cut in half or even slower. FPS isn’t necessarily important in the base, but you still spend a lot of time there. Additionally, I assume the FPS lag only becomes worse as you delve deeper into the campaign and create many new rooms branching off of your elevator shaft.
Now with that, all said, I guess this port isn’t terrible. You could play through the entirety of XCOM 2 on Switch. If you’re a Switch diehard who has been fiending for some turn-based tactics, this could be perfect for you; however, I’d like to take a look at the bigger picture here.
This port is far from the definitive way to play XCOM 2. Aside from the resolution and frame rate issues I mentioned above, the price is a glowing issue to me. The XCOM 2 Collection is $49.99 on Nintendo Switch. While under the retail standard of $59.99, it’s a big ask for a game that was released in 2016. Meanwhile, the same collection is currently available in the Steam Summer Sale for half the price. Additionally, the PC version has dozens of fantastic mods that can make the game more exciting while adding infinite replayability. Even if you’re not a PC player, you can find the same collection for around $20-$30 for PS4 or Xbox One.
XCOM 2 on the Switch is not the best port, but also not the worst port. At the end of the day, you can still beat the game, and have a blast doing so. Just know that you’re not in for anything close to the definitive XCOM 2 experience if you pick this up. If I’m being honest, I enjoyed almost every second I played, but deep down the whole experience just made me want to revisit the game on PS4 or PC instead.