Doom will be released on the Nintendo Switch tomorrow, and we have some bad news for people who were hoping to play the game in handheld mode.
You can read the whole writeup for details on how the game plays, but the biggest issue isn’t Bethesda’s fault at all; the Switch just isn’t configured for dual-analog first-person shooter controls.
“It’s not Bethesda’s fault, it’s Nintendo’s,” our own Russ Frushtick explained. “The location of the right analog stick, which you use for all of your aiming in Doom, is placed in an awkward position if you have smaller hands. Using it occasionally in Breath of the Wild or Splatoon 2 for camera adjustment was fine, but it’s far from precise, forcing people to use the gyroscopes for more precise aiming. Doom’s constant need for accuracy would make gyroscope aiming a nightmare, so all you really have is that right analog stick to control where you look.”
You can avoid this altogether by using a Pro controller — which has much better ergonomics for this kind of game — and resting the Switch itself on its kickstand, but that’s not a viable solution if you were hoping to play on the subway or even on a plane. The goal is to be able to play these games anywhere you’d like, and right now that’s going to be painful for many players.
So what’s the solution? Nintendo could offer a Joy-Con that brings the right analog stick above the buttons to make games with the standard first-person shooter control scheme more comfortable for players who may struggle with the current setup. Doom isn’t going to be the last first-person game on the Switch, and it’s not even going to be the last one from Bethesda, as both Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus and Skyrim are coming to the system.
It’s likely that a third-party hardware company may even be able to improve the situation with grips that allow you to adjust how the weight of the Switch rests on your hands, but there’s no reason Nintendo can’t take advantage of its own modular system by offering a new Joy-Con that moves that stick. Heck, I’m guessing there are a good amount of people who might prefer that for existing games as well.
As it stands, Doom is painful for many of us here at the office to play in handheld mode, and that’s a large part of what makes the Switch so special. Nintendo needs to offer some solution, or entire genres might be lost to the system.