Welcome to Overwatch! So much has changed since we initially reviewed the game in 2016 and so much has stayed the same. New heroes, several changes to how characters work and more have kept the game fresh and fun, except for that one time when GOATS was all the rage and caused a fair number of fairly boring to watch games. If you want the nuts and bolts of Overwatch and how and why you should play it, head to the initial review, as this is more to cover playing the game on a different platform.
Thumbstick, but nanoboosted
I never thought I would enjoy dropping from a mouse to a stick before because I know that in general, I am much better with a mouse in hand. Years of FPS games on PC have paid off and I often end up frustrated when finding the right sensitivity settings to allow me to turn and deal with threats quickly, but still being able to accurately line up a headshot. But on the Switch, and hear me out, you have a special weapon in your arsenal. Believe it or not, tilt controls are the way to go. Sure, some might argue that the more comfortable Pro controller is the only way to play but my headshots rely on the joys of moving the console around a wee bit.
My sticks have their sensitivity set to a bit higher to let me turn around quickly, which degrades being caught from behind from certain death to a fighting chance. Then once I have the enemy in view, the finer aiming happens with motion controls. Sure I look like those players that turn the controller to the sides when racing around a corner, but it works. Suddenly McCree is deadly in my hands, rather than just relying on spray and pray characters. I think I understand why so many of the better Splatoon players use gyroscopic controls: that fine-tuned adjustment for a shot and over time, you can do it pretty quickly with predictable results. I’m sure I could get my thumb to do this same thing eventually, but something about how the motion translates to in-game just feels natural.
Sure I look like those players that turn the controller to the sides when racing around a corner, but it works.
Just as well I prefer playing the game in handheld mode, because the graphics in docked mode leave a lot to be desired. After playing silky smooth 60 fps Overwatch for years, sitting at 30 fps with dips during heavy team fights feels off, and on the big screen at 900p, the concessions made to get the game running on the Switch are shown off in full glory. Maps have lost a lot of the small details that made them special, with plants and other small objects disappearing to make way for the action. Character models and textures have also changed, which makes it feel like you are playing the game with some sort of filter on.
In handheld mode, many of the graphic issues feel less in your face, though fuzzy text and characters appearing blurry at range might cause you to stop picking snipers. The most noticeable effect occurs when changing characters, which is pretty jarring. Suddenly a ball of light is flying around instead of a character until the assets load in, and this often happens for the play of the game, making it hard to enjoy that clutch kill or heal. You also can’t save or share these like you can on other platforms, which means no bragging rights. Even the Switch’s native capture is disabled here, so no sharing your great play. Or your Torbjorn turret killing spree.
Not having your progress carried over in any way turned out to be a pretty big hurdle for me. Starting at level 1 again, with no cosmetics, felt rather weird. It felt like I wasn’t on my account, just some demo thing. It probably shouldn’t bother me, but not having a certain cosmetic, spray or emote when the situation called for it felt pretty strange. Less cosmetic was feeling like I was using a smurf account. Now I am not saying that I am good enough at Overwatch that using a smurf account would matter at all, but being level 1 and having good hero knowledge, map knowledge and team composition ideas did feel a bit strange. Everyone was low level so matchmaking felt completely random, tossing anyone against everyone. It will take a while for enough player information to be available to pitch players against one another fairly, but for now get used to the idea that one player at a low level has very little clue of how to play the game, while the player next to them of the same level is definitely a veteran.
Overwatch on Switch is great, but it won’t make me leave my primary platform behind. That said, my next holiday is going to involve me shouting at people to get on the payload. Over built-in comms, thankfully.