When 2K Interactive announced that the critically acclaimed XCOM 2 would be making its way to Nintendo Switch, I was quite excited over the prospect. The tactical strategy nature of the game seems to be a natural fit with the mobile-capable console, provided the port is done properly and does the fantastic game justice.
This review won’t go too much into the technical nuance and gameplay of the game, but rather how it translates over to the Nintendo Switch console. It plays exactly the same as other versions and if you want to know how that works, you can head over to the XCOM 2 PC and console reviews.
The Nintendo Switch port is actually called XCOM 2 Collection which includes the original game, as well as the War of the Chosen expansion which doesn’t so much as add new content but rather changes how the game plays with different enemies, classes and story elements. Without going into too much detail, XCOM 2 takes place 20 years after the events of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, where (light spoilers) the human race and the XCOM initiative lost against the alien invasion with the council of nations essentially surrendering and ADVENT being established as a new world order. You play as the Commander who is tasked with setting up a new XCOM, recruiting the resistance and fight and rid the world of the aliens and ADVENT.
What follows is a brutally challenging tactical strategy game that requires careful planning during the turn-based combat, base and resource management, as well as some prayers to the RNG gods. XCOM has always been a predominantly PC oriented game, but decent ports to console have been made over the years, and the nature of the game should be a natural fit for the pickup and go architecture of the Nintentdo Switch. But how does a graphical powerhouse of a game translate to the less powerful console, and does it hold up?
For the most part, yes. In fact, the Nintendo Switch port of XCOM 2 Collection actually holds up very well. The game takes a massive graphical knock from its PC and even other console counterparts, but due to the stylistic art style of the XCOM series, it really doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem and it somehow works and fits into the Nintendo environment of games. The environments look pretty well rendered with things like fires and explosions not nearly as visually stunning as it might be on a PC, but still looking impressive enough.
The biggest penalty from what I can notice is from character models and environments in the Avenger ship base, which is a bit strange since many of the visuals there are pre-rendered background and environments. The characters from the NPC to your squad members really don’t have a lot of details outside of cutscenes and can at times look rather fuzzy. The issues are much more noticeable when playing the game while the Switch is docked and you’re playing on a larger screen. Playing in handheld mode actually just feels better and is the reason why I got excited for it in the first place. The game looks better on the smaller screen despite it running at a lower resolution.
I also need to just add that I absolutely love the music of XCOM 2. Everything about the game is over the top, high tech and epic, and the music just accentuates the overall experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re out on a mission, doing base management or preparing for a deployment, the music will get you absolutely pumped.
Solid, but not without problems
XCOM 2 Collection plays very well on Nintendo Switch, but it is not without flaws. The game aims to stick to a 30 fps frame rate and for the most part, it achieves this, but at times it does take some very noticeable dips. It mostly happens during cutscenes and when action moments take place during combat, so it doesn’t impact the overall gameplay experience too much since the game is turn-based. It can be a bit jarring at times though.
Some of the other technical issues I experienced while playing was slow texture loading at times, especially when going to a new location on the Avenger base ship. I also experienced a weird issue with the volume of voice and speech being inconsistent between cutscenes and gameplay, which can be a bit of a nuisance if you – like me – prefer playing games without subtitles. This was only the case while playing in docked mode and could be something with how the game handles a surround sound system.
As I mentioned, playing handheld is preferable as it just looks better. The only issue I had with it here is that menus and text, which it has a lot of can be a bit small with no option to scale it preference. Also, the port lacks touchscreen support, which is kind of expected, but it would’ve been a nice touch to an already solid port.
Impressive work, Commander
2K and Firaxis did a commendable job in porting a very good strategy game over onto the less powerful Nintendo Switch. XCOM 2 Collection plays very well on the console and doesn’t look bad despite the huge graphical knock it took. It still somehow works. You also get a lot of game with the War of the Chosen expansion that adds more story and changes gameplay elements of the original. If you’re a fan of tactical strategy, new to the genre or a veteran of the series, XCOM 2 Collection is a solid port on the Switch that is worth having a look at.