DOOM Eternal first released on March 20, 2020, on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Receiving rave reviews from both critics and players alike, DOOM Eternal set a new precedent for the FPS genre. As a fan of the franchise since 93, it was a delight to rip and tear my way through the latest in a long line of great titles in the franchise. Fast forward to last week and DOOM Eternal finally landed on the Nintendo Switch. With a week of ripping and tearing my way through Earth, Urdak, and everywhere in between it’s time to set aside my super shotgun and share my thoughts on Panic Button’s latest port to the Nintendo Switch. So grab that chainsaw…er… coffee, kick back and check out our review of DOOM Eternal on Nintendo Switch.
Not Your Grandpa’s Review
This review isn’t going to cover whether or not DOOM Eternal is a great game. It is. Check out my original review for more details. Instead, the focus here is on how well DOOM Eternal holds up on the Nintendo Switch. Panic Button has a track record of making things run on the Switch that really has no business doing so. I was quite interested to see if they would be able to continue that streak of defying the odds.
Pushing the Limits
DOOM Eternal is, at its core, a title that requires quick reflexes, nerves of steel, and exceptionally smooth frame rates. So when DOOM’s executive producer Marty Stratton announced the game would run at 30 FPS on Switch, people shared some concern. For a game where seconds are the difference between life and death, a 30 FPS cap was a point of tension for many gamers.
After a week of play, however, I can say that DOOM Eternal runs exceptionally well on the Switch. During my gameplay run-through, I never ran into any fps drops or other performance issues. Sure it was no 144fps that I’m used to playing on PC, but it performed exceptionally well none the less. Load times were a bit slower between levels but overall the gameplay experience was smooth and quite fun on the little console that could.
The controls were responsive too. The button layout was intuitive and easy to master allowing for some quick combos and maneuvering around the map. I did note though that the Nintendo’s Joy-Cons once again lack the finesse of other controllers and it definitely forced me to change my normal tactics during combat.
As an example, I typically rely heavily on my scoped machine gun to quick scope demons in their weak spots then swap to a super-shot gun or Ballista to finish them off. With the joy-cons, I just couldn’t land the precision shot to start that whole combo off. Additionally not having the accuracy of an Xbox or PS 4 controller also meant I relied a lot more on the old pray and spray method of gunning down demons. This is by no means a deal-breaker but it did pigeon hole me into a more brute force approach to combat.
I did note that there was some weird shuttering during some of the cut scenes as well. I would attribute this more to a bug than a core performance issue based on how well the actual gameplay experience went. I imagine with some time Panic Button will patch it out. Overall however I enjoyed my experience of playing DOOM Eternal. As an avid fan of the franchise, it’s great to have all of them available on the go with my Switch.
A Price to Pay
Running such a robust and busy game on ID Software’s latest engine on the Nintendo Switch does come at a price. The game looks terrible on the Switch. The draw distance is abysmal, textures are blurry at a distance and only marginally better when close up. When playing, it feels like someone smudged the display, attempted to clean it off which simply resulted in smearing the smudge all over the screen.
Now don’t get me wrong. The game is definitely playable visually but it really does take your eyes a bit to adjust to the lower, blurrier texture quality. I had no expectation that DOOM Eternal would be as crisp or as sharp as it is on PC or even PS4 and Xbox One. It’s also important to note that that this is the first title that has been ported to Switch that was made in the id Tech 7 engine which is leaps and bounds ahead of the id Tech 6 (Doom 2016’s engine).
So the fact that it runs at all, let alone smoothly at 30 fps is noteworthy and a nod to how amazing the team at Panic Button really is. However, I wonder at what point that sacrifice in visual fidelity becomes too much? In the case of DOOM Eternal, it tries to have its cake and eat it too. Sometimes it succeeds but it isn’t pretty. It’s a fun FPS experience but has to make a lot of sacrifices to make that happen.
If you run a Nintendo Switch as your preferred gaming system then you should absolutely pick up DOOM Eternal. It’s a great game and I think you’ll still enjoy the experience. If, however, it’s your secondary console, reserved for car rides and holidays with the in-laws, I would suggest waiting for a sale.
A Switch review code was provided by PR.