Nintendo Nintendo Switch

Digital Foundry tackles Apex Legends for Nintendo Switch

The team at Digital Foundry have taken a comprehensive look at the recently released free-to-play Apex Legends on the Nintendo Switch. While it is admirable that EA and Panic Button have brought the game to the system it does come with numerous compromises compared to the more powerful systems. The game runs at a maximum 720p in docked play and 576p dynamic in handheld mode. The game is 30fps but there’s noticeable drops when the fast-paced action gets busy on screen. Digital Foundry also recommend that players on Switch turn off cross-play, which is enabled by default, as it gives players on other platforms an unfair advantage. Here’s some notable quotes:

“It’s worth pointing out at this stage that our tests are based on the 1.07 patch, which ‘dropped’ midway through production on this project – and it’s understood to have some performance advantages, which is reflected in our analysis. Resolution has been flagged as an issue and it’s certainly one of the challenges the game faces. We’re looking at a maximum 720p in docked play, with dynamic resolution scaling dropping to 1066×600 minimum, which is something of a struggle to parse. Portable play is 576p dynamic, with a 960×540 minimum, and a corresponding drop in the quality of texture filtering when stacked up against the docked experience.”

“As for performance, things start out shakily as the initial jump sees frame-rates tumble into the low 20fps range – it’s not crucial to the core of the experience, but as an initial ‘handshake’ with the game, it’s not the best showing. The target 30 frames per second is largely maintained during traversal, with the initial scavenging phase of the classic battle royale formula usually running as it should, though inconsistent frame-pacing can sometimes intrude. The main problem is that frame-rate problems intrude during confrontations with other players – exactly where performance should be at its best. On top of that, there’s the sense the frame-rate may start to buckle simply by being in proximity to other players – an unlikely early warning system of sorts?

Ultimately, this is Apex Legends and it does work but the compromises are often brutal. It’s a free download, it is content complete with full season eight parity and I’d certainly recommend trying it out – you have nothing to lose, after all. However, CrossPlay is on by default and I can’t help but think that the cutbacks to the experience are so severe that you may have more fun turning off the feature and playing with other Switch users exclusively, if only to level what is otherwise a highly uneven playing field.”

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