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Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition – docked vs. portable and PS4 comparisons, frame rate test

Posted on May 19, 2017 by (@NE_Brian) in Switch, Videos

Digital Foundry is back with another in-depth technical analysis. Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition is the focus this time around.

Minecraft does indeed run at 720p on Switch regardless of it being docked or undocked. However, 4J Studios once again confirmed to Digital Foundry that the team is looking into the situation and the game could see an increase to 1080p docked in the future with an update.

Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition renders 11 or 12 chunks when docked. But when playing in handheld mode, that’s lowered to seven chunks. What that means is that you’ll see less on-screen when playing Switch as a portable, but the smaller screen lessens the impact.

Digital Foundry also says the following about Minecraft’s frame rate and how it stacks up to the PS4:

“But there’s definitely a sense of swings and roundabouts here. While the Switch version’s 720p resolution is a clear downgrade, there is some evidence to suggest that the Switch version may have a better handle on its 60fps target frame-rate overall compared to other versions – we found some detailed scenes in single-player mode where the docked Switch runs faster than PlayStation 4 running like-for-like content (albeit at its reduced settings). Performance issues manifest more prominently in split-screen mode – as expected – but again, we found that Switch was smoother overall, with lurches down from the target 60fps less pronounced than they are on PlayStation 4. However, understandably, draw distances are further pared back in the multiplayer modes. For the record, while Minecraft has no PS4 Pro support, it is possible to engage boost mode and this eliminated all the performance issues we encountered.

Docked vs portable performance is also intriguing. Rendering range is reduced to seven ‘chunks’, which does a lot in preserving performance, but regardless you will still see more jarring drops down to the 30fps line, while docked frame-rates in identical scenarios can see consistent 60fps gameplay. These jumps in refresh feel jarring, but this isn’t common enough to be a major issue – it’s a little wobbly overall, but not to an extent that’s going to upset gameplay. Split-screen modes see draw distances reduced still further, and performance is even more variable to the point where a 30fps cap really would have made a lot of since here – especially once you go all-out with four players.”

You can watch Digital Foundry’s full Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition analysis below.


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