Also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows
Doom is a technical marvel on Switch. Panic Button can throw away their entire list of credentials; all they need to say to prove their talent and capability is "We ported the 2016 Doom to the Switch." Obviously there were some pretty significant sacrifices that had to be made to get the game running on the relatively underpowered Switch, but given that the Switch is a handheld system and that the game DOES run - and relatively well, at that - this is nothing less than programming wizardry.
I previously reviewed Doom on PlayStation 4 when it came out last year, so this is going to be a relatively brief review that focuses primarily on the differences between Doom on PlayStation 4 and on Switch. First and foremost, the game is here and completely intact. This isn't like the ports of the original Doom to various consoles in the mid 90s where you'd have some levels shortened or omitted entirely to work around various systems' limitations. The entire non-stop adrenaline campaign is fully intact on Switch, and even multiplayer made the transition, although it's worth noting that even with the physical release of Doom, you have to download the multiplayer part of the game in a big ol' update. Given that you need to have internet access to play the multiplayer anyway, though, I think that's a completely reasonable way to save cartridge space.
Obviously with a game this gorgeous and this busy, getting it to run on any handheld is going to require sacrifices, and the sacrifices here are apparently. They absolutely do not ruin gameplay, though. The textures are noticeably lower in resolution, and the game renders at a maximum of 720p to match the screen's resolution, although it does on occasion dip to around 600p or so in particularly busy scenes (but since you're going to be busy slaughtering demons, you probably won't even notice). The other major sacrifice is frame rate, foregoing the original releases' target 60 fps for a target 30 fps, and unfortunately, that target isn't always met on Switch. I didn't find the drops to be severe enough to ruin gameplay, but others may be more sensitive to those drops.
While the game targets 30 fps, it can drop to around 20 fps during busy fights. There are some ways to get around this, though. I tried playing on various difficulty settings to test a theory, and the game runs significantly smoother the lower you set the difficulty due to having fewer enemies on screen at one time. On the highest difficulty (of the ones unlocked at start), the system, quite frankly, really chugged along, but on the lowest difficulty setting, I actually experienced very few frame rate drops. Obviously this is definitely a sub-optimal situation, and those looking for serious challenge probably shouldn't choose the Switch version of Doom if other platforms are available, but if you just want to kill 20 or 30 minutes killing demons from time to time on the way to work or while taking a crap, then this is a completely playable version of the game. When running on the lowest difficulty to keep the frame rate as stable as possible, I had zero actual complaints. Sure, I missed the higher resolution textures and 60 fps frame rate of the PlayStation 4 release, but the lower resolution textures and reduced frame rate are more than acceptable trade-offs for portability in my opinion.
The multiplayer, while obviously not the focus of Doom, was more disappointing than the single player to me. Frame rate seemed a bit more stable than in single player, but it stayed stable around 25 or 27 frames per second. Having grown up gaming on mid and low end PCs, I can deal with frame rates in the 20s, so I still had a pretty good time playing online, but I know that for most people, the frame rate is a deal breaker for the game's online mode. It is nice that the online multiplayer made it into the Switch version; long time Nintendo gamers are all too familiar with the tried-and-true tactic of completely omitting multiplayer in third party ports to Nintendo platforms, so its inclusion at all is a welcome feature for me.
Doom on Switch is definitely inferior to the original releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows, but don't let that turn you off of it entirely. The multiplayer leaves a bit to be desired, but if you're willing to play on a lower difficulty, there is a LOT of fun to be had in the game's campaign, even if the frame rate and resolution are a good bit lower than its beefier counterparts. The fact that Panic Button was able to get this game to run at all on a handheld, let alone getting it to run this well, is freaking astounding, and for a game this complex to run as well as it does less than a year into the Switch's life span bodes well for the little system that could. If you've got a Switch and are at all a fan of Doom, I definitely recommend picking this up, even if you've already played Doom on another platform.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.