When Doom first got announced for Nintendo Switch, my first reaction was, "how?" Nintendo's console is an amazing place to play first-party games and quirky indies, but could it possibly handle a AAA first-person shooter as massive and chaotic as Doom?
Turns out it can -- with some caveats.
For the most part, the Switch version of Doom is very much the same fast, joyously brutal game that I fell in love with last year. The textures are toned down from what you'd see on PS4, Xbox One or PC, but never to the point where I felt like I was playing a budget version of the game. Before long, I got into the same frantic rhythm of bouncing around Mars and blasting demons with my shotgun, and it largely felt just as good as it did on my PS4.
However, there were some slowdown issues that took me out of that rhythm. Doom's framerate seemed to drop a bit whenever there was a ton of chaos happening on-screen, which is understandable given the Switch's relatively underpowered guts, but a big problem for a game that's all about speed and momentum.
These moments of slowdown were rare but very noticeable, and made me worry about how the Switch might handle the game's bigger encounters and boss battles. Part of what made Doom special on PS4 and Xbox One is that the action almost always ran close to 60 frames per second, and I would deal with whatever graphical downgrades were necessary for that to happen on Switch.
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I played the Switch version of Doom primarily in handheld mode, which looked and felt a lot better than I expected to. However, given the tiny size of the Joy-Con buttons, my hands did cramp up a bit after 10 straight minutes of murdering monsters.
Still, the Switch's built-in controls are more than serviceable enough for short bursts of demon slaying on-the-go. The game felt fantastic on Nintendo's Pro Controller, so I highly recommend using one with Doom if you can.
Despite some framerate issues, I came away from Doom on Switch more excited than worried. My favorite AAA experience of 2016 is now something I can take on the subway with me, and proves that big, current-gen titles deserve a place on Nintendo's new console. Doom is part of a trio of big titles that Bethesda is bringing to Switch alongside Skyrim (Nov. 17) and Wolfenstein II (2018), and will hopefully help establish the Switch as a place to play more than just Mario and Zelda.
The $60 Switch version of Doom will feature the game's full campaign and multiplayer suite, but not the SnapMap level creator from other versions. I look forward to decapitating demons on the go -- and getting funny looks on the train -- when it arrives this holiday season.
Image Credit: Bethesda
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