I had some hands-on time with Doom on the Nintendo Switch last week at a Nintendo holiday event in Toronto. I took a moment to hold the colourful Joy-Cons of Nintendo’s newest and criminally beautiful hybrid console. When Bethesda revealed that some of their biggest games were coming to the Switch, Nintendo’s latest gamble in the market, it was a moment of puzzlement. How could this work for Nintendo and how much of a compromise would need to be made?
Whatever Bethesda did to bring an experience like Doom to Nintendo Switch worked out. As you can imagine, the game had to be dialled back some to even get it going. The framerate has dropped to an almost consistent 30 frames per second from 60 frames per second and having played the PC version last year, it’s hard to get used to playing it at half the resolution I’d played the entire game in.
We knew that Doom would be visually downgraded to fit onto the Switch and it’s noticeable when you’re standing still (something I don’t recommend doing in this game) you’ll noticeable less graphic fidelity. It isn’t so bad it isn’t playable but it doesn’t come close to the other versions. The trade-off of portable Doom is worth the necessary cuts that needed to be made to pack the same experience into my hands on the go.
From the onset of Doom, you’re one going one speed and it is frantic, combat feels especially great and highly satisfying and ribbing limbs from demons is a delight, and quite frankly therapeutic, especially on the Switch. Controlling the Marine is responsive, and while I was nervous about playing Doom in handheld mode, worried hand placement would be an issue, the overall experience wasn’t too bad. I’m someone who would much rather have a real controller to use but after taking Doom out into my day to day life, it’s hard to want to strictly play in front of a big TV, tearing apart demons at my office on a break and while waiting for someone, I found myself pulling out my Switch over my phone.
Arcade mode in Doom adds what is the ideal way to play the campaign, and it’s hard to recommend any other way. The score-based mode unlocks all weapons and runes from the beginning – your only objective is to get to the end by unleashing hell on your enemies, the more creative you kills are, the more points you earn.
Multiplayer is included and plays as you would expect to its counterparts on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and PC. I wasn’t a fan at launch and I haven’t been back since, even with Bethesda releasing their aptly named 6.66 update that revised the progression system and new runes for loadouts as well as bug fixes. Jumping in now, the overhaul was completely worth revisiting, Doom’s online mode suffers from lag sporadically on Wi-Fi but when you played a game without hiccup, it’s fun.
Bethesda opened the gates and did something spectacular by porting Doom to the Nintendo console. By doing something like this, I’m looking forward to seeing other studios follow suit and try to get the same experience on the go. While Doom for Switch isn’t the prettiest port, the gameplay more than makes up for its lesser graphic fidelity and the run and gun gameplay belongs on a console that I can pick up and play in smaller sessions. If you want to stomp demons and rip apart their limbs, Doom is available on Switch, after 20 years of being away, it’s good to be back. Bethesda’s focus on Nintendo’s new console is going to be a major factor on sales for both companies, adapting a game like Doom is a stroke of genius, providing a full console game on the go.