When I want to have a high octane, blood-soaked first-person shooter experience, the Nintendo Switch isn’t usually my go-to console. In fact, I think the last FPS I played on a Nintendo was either Goldeneye or Perfect Dark on the N64. Imagine my surprise when they announced that one of my favourite, gore-filled Bethesda games from recent memory was being re-released on the Switch, especially considering that Nintendo prides its self on being more family oriented. The prospect of literally tearing demons in half during my daily commute was one that filled me with both intrigue and excitement, and I was curious to see how the intensity of a fast-paced FPS would translate into the portable nature of the Switch. Unfortunately, despite having a solid foundation to work with, this port by Panic Button Games is a bit half-baked and the overall DOOM experience sadly feels quite diminished.
I never really got into the previous DOOM games, they always seemed fairly shallow and filled to the brim with mindless ultra-violence. After a combination of solid recommendations, a fantastic experience with Wolfenstein: The New Order and a total lack of Internet, I found myself putting Bethesda’s bloody new FPS into my PS4 and giving it a chance. I’m glad I did because what I found was a surprisingly enjoyable and outrageously over-the-top shooter that immediately dragged me into its demon filled world. I spent hours blasting my way through all sorts of grotesque creatures in my quest to close a gate to Hell and I loved every minute of it, scouring the map for the plethora of secrets and upgrades hidden away. Even the silent protagonist “Doomguy” had a fantastic amount of personality, considering you only ever see his hands and the weapon he’s currently using to melt faces.
When I first fired up DOOM on the Switch, I decided to play in handheld mode with Joy-Cons attached to get the full gaming-on-the-go experience. I was almost immediately disappointed. I completely understand that the Switch doesn’t quite have the graphical power of other consoles, but the ported visuals were a far cry from the clean and crisp look of other games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. Not to mention the fact that the HUD doesn’t seem to have been scaled (or include an option to scale), so all the on-screen text and button prompts were incredibly hard to read. I popped my console in the dock to see if it made a difference and although the HUD was easier to see, the visuals looked worse and had a milky, standard definition kind of look to them.
I put aside the underwhelming look of the game and tried to enjoy the intense, non-stop gunplay, but things only went downhill from there. Within the first hour of playing, I experienced three separate glitches; I had a group of enemies completely vanish as I ran up to them, a demon who jumped off a ledge and fell through the floor and at one point the audio cut out during gameplay, but was present in the pause menu. Obviously, glitches are almost part and parcel with today’s gaming, but to have them so early and so frequently just shone a massive spotlight on the game’s shortcomings.
The scariest thing in this picture is that smoke effect
It’s also a shame to see that there was no integration with all the awesome features of the Switch, such as motion controls or Amiibo support (like in the forthcoming Skyrim). Playing the game with the Joy-Cons, either attached or detached, felt a bit haphazard and flimsy, but thankfully the Pro Controller stepped up to the plate and made it feel just as comfortable as any other console experience.
On top of the campaign in DOOM, there is also an arcade mode and multiplayer, which I didn’t get to experience the first time around. Arcade mode is fun, putting aside all story and focusing on pure carnage, granting you rewards for racking up kills and destroying enemies in a stylish fashion. All of the weapons and upgrades are unlocked in this mode, which is fantastic, but the load time between deaths (and you will die a lot) was reaching around 20-30 seconds, completely killing any feeling of fast-paced, high-intensity action. Multiplayer mode offers classic match types with simple, solid gameplay and cool little twists like gaining the ability to play as high-powered demons from the game. To be honest, the most fun I had in the Switch version of DOOM was in the multiplayer, which is surprising since I wouldn’t consider myself much of a PvP gamer, but the ease at which I could find a match and the considerable progression and customisation systems were great.
Beat off your demons
Summing up this review is hard for me. On the one hand, I love DOOM and it’s a game that I think all fans of first-person shooters should play, but the Switch version is a fairly underwhelming port. If you have the chance to play DOOM on either PS4 or X Box One, you probably should. But if you have no other choice, you’ll still find a great game to satisfy your bloodlust. The Switch definitely has the potential to give a great FPS experience, but only if the game is developed specifically for it, or at least integrated in a better way. Kudos to Bethesda for investing in the Switch, I just wish they’d put as much effort into this as they are with Skyrim. I love DOOM. I love the Switch. I don’t love DOOM on the Switch.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch