Last year’s kickass FPS, DOOM, makes its way to the Switch this month, bringing a mature, demonic shooter to a Nintendo platform for the first time in about twenty years.
I first reviewed DOOM back in May of 2016, hard to believe it’s been that long, but I’ll be leaning on that review a lot in this current write up for the Switch release. The game has, like any modern game, received several patches and some big content updates in the meantime, with the current release being v6.66, packing lots of extra multiplayer-focused content with it. The Switch version actually includes everything from the PC and console versions except for two key things: SnapMap, the editor that allowed all players to make and share custom multiplayer maps, and high resolution textures. Indeed, whether you play the Switch on the go or in docked mode, the visual experience caps out at 720p and 30fps, with some hiccups below 30fps during very intense battles. I spent most of my time so far playing in handheld mode, using the joycons. Certainly the more comfortable way to play is with a Pro Controller or a third party equivalent, but given that one of the Switch’s main features is portability, I wanted to spend most of my time playing it that way. There are some controller options in-game that allow you to adjust things like Auto Aim, horizontal and vertical sensitivity, and you can even use gyro controls to perform the Glory Kills (or just click R3, which I preferred), so it shouldn’t take too long to find a sweet spot for joycon play if you intend to go that route over a more traditional controller.
The first thing I noted in my experience with DOOM on Switch was the install size — 22GB, which all but requires a SD card. Still, with SnapMap and higher textures removed, this is about a quarter of the space of the game on a PC. Graphically, there is a persistent, well, blur, that is a bit of a shock at first, but then again you have to remember the platform you’re playing it on and the portability you get with that. It’s a compromise to be sure, and one that you’re going to have to decide what is more important to you (graphical fidelity or portability and being able to play it on Switch). Reading subtitles or in-game text can be a little harder than maybe you would expect, but of course most of the time you’re in fast-paced, guns-blazing battles with demons from Hell, so this is not really a big problem. More importantly, during such frantic battles, the drop is visual quality the Switch version brings to the table is not that alarming nor bothersome because iD nailed the gameplay so well that you’re swept away by that and not so concerned about the visuals; or at least that’s my experience, your mileage may vary.
Online play is another area where your mileage may vary. I have logged very little online time so far, but what I have played has worked good. A party system was added to the game to make matchmaking and playing with your friends far easier and more convenient, and given that the system itself does not have something like this right now, that iD included such a feature is notable plus. I do not know anyone else with the game though, so I spent most of my multiplayer time going against bots, which for me was a throwback to Unreal Tournament and Quake III Arena days. Speaking of arenas, anyone that has played DOOM in multiplayer will tell you the combat is typically is very tight, arena type battles — good times. In addition to the multiplayer mode, there is also a fun Arcade Mode, which has players going through the campaign, but with all weapons and rune powers unlocked from the start, with the goal being to earn points and medals by being very fast and very creative (almost Bulletstorm like) in how you deal the pain out to the demons.
DOOM is a great game, no matter what platform you play it on, including Switch. On the Switch, you lose SnapMap and will have a significantly reduced graphical presentation, but the experience remains fun and addictive, and now also portable thanks to the nature of the Switch. For some, the trade-off may not make sense, but for others, it’s more than fair.