I love 2016’s Doom. I absolutely adore it, finding it to be not only one of the best shooters of the last few years, but also one of the best shooters ever made, period. Its campaign, ridiculously brutal gameplay, moshpit-generating soundtrack and overall throwback to good old days of “shooting first, caring about anything else second” really grabbed my attention and even made me buy a copy for each platform it came out for. Naturally, I was actually looking forward to the Switch version of Doom the second it was announced, but I was also worried. How would Id Software be able to port a somewhat demanding shooter for the underpowered hardware of the Switch? I’ve previously seen lots of very technically underwhelming ports of PS4/Xbox One games that weren’t even that demanding in their original versions, such as Troll and I, Unbox and Don’t Knock Twice, so how would Doom run on it? Well, don’t ask me how, but Betheda and Id Software managed to pull it off. Doom for the Switch isn’t as good as the console or PC versions, but for crying out loud, it’s Doom for the Switch!
Before the lynch mob shows up yelling at me things like “it’s an ugly port!” or “the resolution is terrible!” let me get this out of the way: if you want to play Doom on a TV, do NOT buy the Switch version. The Playstation 4 or PC versions are cheaper and run at a higher resolution, with better textures and twice the framerate. Given the much inferior hardware present on the Switch, a lot of sacrifices had to be made. Doom runs at 720p (or even less when on handheld mode), half the framerate (30fps versus 60fps), and has much less texture and particle effects, as well as not featuring the SnapMap mode. I pretty much doubt many people here have the Switch as their main gaming system, so there’s no need to bother about the game if you’re planning to only play it on a TV. On handheld mode, however. . .
Now THIS is what I’m talking about! Playing Doom on handheld mode is absolutely amazing. Despite the reduced visual quality, the game manages to retain its absurdely fast-paced gameplay, somehow. Yes, it only runs at 30fps, but given the fact the game’s original pace is already as fast as a death metal drum solo, you can still have tons of fun with it. Despite the joycon not being the most ideal controller for an FPS, given the not-so-sensitive analog sticks, small shoulder buttons and lack of analog bumpers, the controller responsiveness is still as fast as ever. Pulling off glory kills is still very easy, and every single button press is performed onscreen without a hitch. All of this on a handheld. I can’t stress enough how impressive it is to play a game of this level on what’s essentially a tablet. The smaller screen size also helps diminish the visual hindrances you’d otherwise have by looking at a bigger screen. Yes, the textures are low-quality, but given the small screen and the fact you’re always moving, you won’t be bothered that much.
Another cool fact is that all DLC and previous updates are included in the Switch version right from the getgo, probably in order to compensate for the fact this version does not feature SnapMap. All DLC maps are here, all multiplayer skins are here, Arcade mode is here (and as enjoyable as ever, especially on a handheld!). The multiplayer mode is reasonably populated at the moment and still quite fun, even though I understand the criticism a lot of people have towards it. What’s really important here is the campaign, and fear not, it’s still great. Seeing Doomguy destroy expensive machinery like he doesn’t care will never get old. Let’s not forget about the game’s soundtrack, a collection of tracks so insane and brutal it’s like they were composed by a horde of demons straight from the depths of hell itself.
While this is, in technical terms, the worst looking and worst performing version of Doom out there, I can honestly say this is also the most impressive of all versions. The fact you can play one of the greatest FPS games ever made anywhere you want to is already a commendable achievement. Being able to pull out a very playable version of it on weak hardware is an even more impressive feat. Don’t you worry, Doom fans and Switch owners, this version of Doom is still as fun as ever, and one of the most important games released for Nintendo’s hybrid handheld so far, proving the amount of potential the system has to bring console-quality games to the handheld world.
Also available: PS4, PC, Xbox One