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Overwatch on Nintendo Switch performance issues explained by Digital Foundry

There’s a bit more going on than just a lower framerate

Overwatch - Pharah and Soldier 76 face off Blizzard Entertainment
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Polygon has had its hands on Overwatch for Nintendo Switch for a few weeks now. Smashing the high-end shooter into a tiny, portable package is a nice trick, but the team at Chicago-based Iron Galaxy had to make compromises to get the job done. Now that the experts at Digital Foundry have done a deep dive, it’s clear what sorts of accommodations were made.

As a baseline, Digital Foundry discovered that what the developers said about the game’s performance is true. Overwatch runs at 900p while docked and 730p as a portable. But it’s not that simple.

“On closer inspection, there is much more to it,” they write, “with dynamic resolution scaling in play. It’s a dynamic 900p when docked, with a horizontal scaler delivering a minimum of 1152x900 under load. Similarly, portable play is a native 720p in the best case, but again, the horizontal scaler seems to deliver a 960x720 resolution with the engine under stress.”

The translation is that there’s some software wizardry working in the background to juice the visuals up from a lower output to meet the target resolutions. That’s to be expected for a device running on the same architecture that powers mobile phones. But the developers have clearly elected to target handheld resolutions as their baseline, scaling resolutions up for televisions.

Overall, however, the experience just isn’t the same as it is on other consoles and PC. Those run at 60 frames per second, while the Switch does its best to maintain 30. That alone makes for an uneven playing field, so it’s no wonder that there’s no crossplay between Switch users and anyone on another platform.

You can read their entire analysis over at Eurogamer.

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