As you’ve likely seen, Warframe was recently officially released on the Nintendo Switch. While we need a bit more time to develop a more complete review, we’ve played enough of it to be able to provide a few initial impressions. Keep in mind I have played a LOT of Warframe on every platform (PC, XB1, PS4), so these impressions will reflect more my take of the quality of the port as opposed to the game itself. I will, however, look to cover the game in more depth in my review, which I expect to complete by the end of November. On with my impressions!
I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of a completely portable Warframe. Given the limitations of the Switch, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect overall, really. However, on first loading the software after download, it became immediately apparent that this was simply Warframe on the Switch – the same game in a slightly different format. To be frank, this was a very pleasant surprise.
When docked, Warframe feels almost identical to the rest of its console family (while Xbox One X or PS4 Pro owners might try to convince you otherwise, there is no difference in performance or appearance on either of these advanced consoles). On Switch, everything looks almost the same – but the limitations of the system are evident if you look hard enough. There is less detail in the textures, for example, a shorter draw distance (especially evident on the Plains of Eidolon), and some minor slowdown when there’s a lot happening on the screen. However, for all intents and purposes – Warframe on Switch (when docked) is a virtually perfect port of the console game.
When in handheld mode, there is a noticeable impact on performance (when compared to docked mode), but from my current playtime I’d have to say it hasn’t had a negative impact on my overall enjoyment. In fact, I’d even go as far as saying that even just the fact that I can play in handheld mode offsets any of this. So what is impacted? Rendering speed, for one, there can be a little screen tearing, slowdown, loss of frames and so on, but it’s not frequent, and in many cases, only minimal. To compensate, Panic Button appears to have slightly impacted either the resolution or texture detail, but given the screen size, it still looks crisp and clear.
I guess what I’m saying is – Warframe on Nintendo Switch is quite an achievement. While it isn’t quite “as good” as Xbox One or PS4, it’s good enough when docked, and completely portable when in handheld mode, and this is mindblowing.
The biggest issues? These really stem from the system itself. In handheld mode, the game can be clumsy to play given the layout and size of the JoyCon controllers. Of course, you can plug your headset in and chat directly, so this is a bonus, or you can disconnect the JoyCons and use the Pro controller – this is a great controller for Warframe. On the other hand, when docked, there is no way to plug in a headset for chat – unless you have an extra long cable. It’s frustrating – if I want to play with friends, I’m almost forced to use either handheld mode or a third-party chat service such as Discord.
Further – the store doesn’t seem to be working just yet, so anyone that WANTS to buy Platinum to start their fashionframe (or to grab the latest Prime Access pack)… well, they can’t. I’m sure this will be rectified soon, but it just seems strange to me to release without an active store.
I’ve also come across a couple of bugs – the main one being that my Mastery Rank changes from MR4 to MR3, which affects my mod capacity. I’m hoping this gets fixed soon, because of all the bugs I’ve come across, it’s the most annoying. Of course, it could also have something to do with the fact that I have a whole bunch of items on PC that aren’t available on Switch just yet…so perhaps this issue will go away once Fortuna releases.
It’s also slightly annoying that this update is NOT the last mainline, which brought a number of Quality of Life improvements to consoles and PC alike. This means there are some frustrating issues I need to deal with that have been fixed on consoles, but I don’t expect this to be an issue for too much longer.
Lastly – it’s not easy to add friends. On PS4 and Xbox One, if your friends are playing, they automatically show up in your friend list in game. On Switch, that doesn’t seem to be the case – you need to add them manually. Not a major issue, but enough to cause frustration.
Overall, the Switch port is massively impressive so far – there are a few minor annoyances, but most of these will be ironed out with time. While I have put in a fair amount of time already, I’d really like to get into some match-made sessions, as well as some parties with friends, just to test out everything I need to in order to make a more measured overview. Still, for a free-to-play game of this quality, it’s already very easy to recommend.