DOOM Nintendo Switch Review: Compromise Is Good

When I first reviewed DOOM in May of 2016, this is how I opened up my review: "DOOM is a deafening, dizzying roller-coaster ride through Hell; a ride you'll take with no safety bar and with the sounds of percussive double-kicks and distorted bass riffs shaking your guts. It's too fast to handle. It's punishing. It's empowering, shameless, and often disgusting. In short, it's what the kids call gnarly."

If I had never played DOOM in my life, and my first experience of it was on Nintendo Switch, all of the above would still hold true. This truly is DOOM on the go, and that's amazing. Since the game has been around for a while, I think it makes sense to review the port, and not the game itself. If you need to know whether DOOM is worth playing, yes it is. If you need to know if it's worth playing (or playing again) on Nintendo Switch, read on.

First of all, comparing the visuals in DOOM on the Nintendo Switch to the visuals on PS4 (or Xbox One) and PC just doesn't make sense. If you own a PS4 and a Nintendo Switch (like I do), then you'll know why. Slide the Joy-Con off either side of the Switch and you'll see that this entire console is roughly 1/10 the size of a PS4. It's a tiny thing, and so expecting it to magically produce the same image quality and performance for a game that made my PS4 fans scream non-stop is ridiculous.

That said, the game does look a bit fuzzy both docked and in handheld / tabletop mode. A dynamic resolution solution has been implemented to ensure consistent performance, and at times the resolution takes some serious dips. When walking through smoke, observing walls or doors closely, or observing environmental details in the distance, you're definitely going to notice some aliasing, and enemies will sometimes turn into blobs.

doom switch 3

The good news is that DOOM still looks fantastic in action. Very rarely will you bit sitting still and taking your time to stare at your surroundings, and even when you do, you'll marvel at how a game this detailed, and this fast-paced, can look so good on such a small device. Several current-gen lighting effects have been preserved, weapons and enemies look fantastic up close, and key cutscenes still look wonderful on-screen. Bosses look as big and bad as their console and PC counterparts, though their demonic grandeur is somewhat diminished when viewed on a 6.2-inch screen.

Frame rate, for the most part, is consistent. In no world was DOOM ever going to run at 60 fps on the Switch, but I was delighted by how wonderfully it feels at 30 fps. It's not the slippery, buttery head-rush it was on consoles or PC, but it's still blisteringly fast and reliable. During crowded firefights, especially in open areas, I did experience some slowdown, which was disappointing. When you're really in the mess of things is when DOOM feels best, and at times my frantic and blissful immersion was perturbed by slight stuttering.

I did experience some strange audio glitches as well, but I was also downloading games in the background, which takes up system resources. I have a feeling that the slowdown and the audio hiccups are partially attributable to my keeping the Switch busy in the background, but it's still worth noting. I have a feeling that we can look forward to at least a few more patches before DOOM reaches its final state on the Switch, and the current build has me very optimistic.

The bottom line, for now, is this: DOOM on Nintendo Switch is something that no one believed could happen, and Bethesda and Panic Button made it happen. It works, it looks good, and with a Pro Controller it plays great. It is not the definitive way to experience DOOM -- not by a long shot -- but it is portable DOOM, and that is a wonderful miracle straight from the pits of Hell.

WWG's Score: 3.5 / 5

3p5 doom guys