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How does XCOM 2 run on Nintendo Switch?

Damn that 90% chance-to-hit

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A gray alien standing in XCOM 2 on Nintendo Switch Image: Firaxis Games/2K Games
Russ Frushtick is the director of special projects, and he has been covering the world of video games and technology for over 15 years. He co-founded Polygon in 2012.

The Nintendo Switch sees a steady stream of games that are ported from other, more powerful, platforms like the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC. But because the Nintendo Switch lacks the graphical horsepower of those other platforms, concessions must frequently be made to get the game running. Because of these concessions, a great game on another platform might be an absolute disaster on the Nintendo Switch. Or, in the best scenarios, the core strengths of the game are able to transfer over, even if it means taking a graphical hit.

In short, how does the game play on Nintendo Switch?

Today we’re looking at the XCOM 2 Collection.

What is the XCOM 2 Collection?

XCOM is a long-running turn-based strategy series in which soldiers and aliens duke it out for control of Earth. The XCOM 2 Collection brings together all of the content that was in the sequel at launch, along with all of the subsequent DLC packs and the War of the Chosen expansion.

What’s the biggest difference between the Switch version and other platforms?

The core gameplay of XCOM 2 is exactly the same, no matter the platform. All of the missions, character classes, weapons, and features make the jump to the Switch version, so you’re really not missing out on anything on that front.

There are notable differences between this and the previous releases, though. The key drawbacks of the Switch version are performance and resolution, and neither is handled very well.

The game frequently hitches and slows during play, despite the target frame rate of 30 frames per second. This happens during busy scenes, as well as during calmer moments, when there shouldn’t be as much of a load on the system’s hardware. Scrolling through your home base to recruit and upgrade potential units, for instance, often feels sluggish. The same goes for selecting and giving orders during a mission.

These issues don’t technically impact gameplay, as the XCOM series doesn’t require quick reaction times. But scrolling through the menus and the interface is unpleasant, and it negatively impacts the experience of playing the game.

On top of these performance dips, the developers still had to drop the graphical resolution to get XCOM 2 to function on Nintendo Switch, giving the entire game a hazy, blurry look. It’s passable, and with better performance it would even be forgivable, but the combination is hard to stomach in a game that was first released in 2016.

Is the Nintendo Switch version worth your time?

Even with the visual and performance issues mentioned above, XCOM 2 is still pretty playable on Switch. It’s a fantastic tactical strategy game, and you could probably adjust to the shortcomings if you’re a die-hard fan who absolutely needs a portable version of XCOM 2.

The flip side is that there’s already a handful of brilliant turn-based strategy games on the Switch (Into the Breach, Fire Emblem: Three Houses) that all look and run great. This collection is fine for forgiving XCOM fans, but easily skippable for everyone else.

XCOM 2 Collection was released June 1 on Nintendo Switch. It is also available on PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One. Impressions were based on final “retail” Switch download code provided by Take-Two Interactive. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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