When I first loaded up DOOM for Nintendo Switch, I expected a dialed-down version of the hit game we saw on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC last year. While it’s true that some graphical and performance sacrifices had to be made for the Switch version, I’m happy to report that DOOM for Nintendo Switch is through-and-through, unequivocally…well, DOOM.
For those who missed the game last year, DOOM is a reboot of the original 1993 MS-DOS title of the same name. The player takes control of a nameless Doom Marine as he fights back hordes of demons from Hell. As you traverse through various areas of Mars and beyond, you find numerous weapons and abilities you can use to tear through the demons in your path. The game starts off simply enough, giving you a plasma pistol, and different enemies and weapons are introduced gradually along the roughly 15-hour campaign.
If you choose to follow the narrative, there are plenty of lore bits to review, such as audio clues and codex entries on weapons and monsters. Much like the original DOOM, there are plenty of secrets and collectibles for those willing to seek them out, and you’ll find different timed challenges sprinkled throughout the game’s levels. For those who just want to jump in and kill demons, though, the game prioritizes gameplay over narrative, and there’s no shortage of carnage to be had.
DOOM for Nintendo Switch is largely the same content-wise as the version we saw on consoles and PC last year, but with some additions and differences. The main and most noticeable difference is the graphical and performance downgrade; while the previously released versions of the game run at a crisp 1080p and 60 frames-per-second, the Switch version runs at a seemingly muddier 1080p and 30 frames-per-second. This isn’t so surprising when taking into consideration the Switch version is packed into a 22GB total download, whereas the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC versions clock in at over 50GB.
While my preferred method of play was docked and using the Pro controller, textures were more noticeably washed out and there were some decent frame rate dips, particularly when there were swarms of enemies on-screen. DOOM looks noticeably better in handheld mode on the Switch’s smaller 720p screen, and I did not notice as many frame rate dips during more heated battles. Despite the game’s graphical drawbacks, it’s not as noticeable when you’re constantly running around killing enemies—DOOM is fast-paced enough that, unless you stop to observe the surrounding environments and textures, you won’t notice it all that much.
It is worth noting that, when playing with the Switch’s Joy-Cons, the controller layout isn’t ideal for first-person-shooter action. With the right Joy-Con’s thumbstick being responsible for aiming, its placement directly under the buttons you use to jump and change weapons often makes playing the game an exercise in frustration, as I never found myself being particularly accurate with my shots. With most Switch titles, I prefer using the Pro controller, and with DOOM, it’s no exception.
The new addition to the Switch version is the ability to perform Glory Kills using motion controls. If you’re playing with split Joy-Cons, you can perform Glory Kills by making a forward punching motion with the right Joy-Con. Though I didn’t prefer using the Joy-Cons, being able punch a demon in the face using my own motion is surprisingly satisfying.
That said, the rest of the game is just as you might remember it from its previous release in 2016. Even at 30 frames-per-second, the game runs fluidly, and each jump, shot, and Glory Kill gives you a sense of power and satisfaction that only DOOM can. I felt like a total badass when shotgunning an enemy down, detonating a grenade near some explosive barrels, or vaulting from above to perform a Glory Kill. And those Glory Kills sure are glorious. Different kills and animations occur depending on the enemy type and the angle from which you come at them, so each kill feels diverse and situational. Don’t let that power go to your head, though, because demons come in swarms as well as variety, so inattention to your surroundings could lead to an early grave, even on the game’s easiest difficulty.
Once you’ve made your way through the campaign, which is arguably the game’s crown jewel, there is an entire suite of multiplayer match types on offer. Though DOOM’s multiplayer has seen some tough criticism, there are plenty of modes to keep you busy after you’ve slain your share of demons in the campaign. It is worth noting that the aforementioned muddy textures are even more apparent in multiplayer. Everything outside of your guns and the game’s text seemed even more muddled and blurry than in the campaign, so I wouldn’t jump into multiplayer expecting visual spectacle.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention DOOM’s excellent and heart-pounding soundtrack from the likes of Mick Gordon. There are no compromises here on the Switch version, and as a huge fan of metal music, I’m glad to see the genre so well represented. One issue I must mention is that, no less than six times during my playthrough of DOOM’s campaign, the game’s audio—both music and sound effects—cut out entirely. When I paused the game or returned to the Switch’s home menu, sound would return, but as soon as I would resume gameplay, the audio would still be missing. I’ve never experienced this with another Switch title, and the fact that sound played in menus or on the Switch home screen, but not during gameplay, tells me that the issue lies with the game software, rather than with my Switch or my TV setup. It didn’t greatly diminish my experience, but it was frustrating enough to warrant mention in this review.
DOOM for Nintendo Switch is still DOOM no matter which way you look at it, and that’s about the highest praise one could give. The added bonuses of motion controls and taking demon slaying on the go are well worth the sacrifices made in visual fidelity. While recurring audio issues did cause some frustration, on the whole, DOOM for Switch is a great game and addition to the Switch’s library.
Disclaimer: A review code for DOOM was provided by the game’s publisher.