Top 10 best ports on Switch
Posted on July 31, 2022 by Bryce(@brodee922) in Features, Switch
Switch has been around for over five years, and we felt now was the best time to share what we feel are the best ports on the console.
There is a common perception regarding Switch (and hybrid consoles in general), that portability requires a sacrifice in playability. Basically, games must play and look worse in order to be in a compact form. While this may be true for some games, developers have proved that this is not always the case.
There are many games that have been ported from other more powerful consoles to Switch that show minimal to no downgrades in their gameplay experiences and graphics. These games range from huge open worlds to quick and snappy shooters, and regardless of playing handheld or docked, they still play perfectly.
Luckily for Switch owners, there are many games that have been ported this well, and a list of all of them could be very long. We’ve narrowed down the top ten Switch ports based on how well the games were reviewed (no one wants to hear about an amazing port of a bad game), and how well the gameplay and graphics were preserved. We have also selected games that were ported from the current generation at the time, as it’s slightly less impressive that a PS3 / Xbox 360 title can run on a handheld.
Without further ado, here are the 10 best Nintendo Switch ports.
10. Darksiders III
The reason this game is on the list is because it shows that Switch versions of current game releases can stack up against other consoles and actually improve upon them. Darksiders 3 is a game that ran somewhat poorly when it was released, and it required a patch on many consoles for it to run decently. These patches eventually improved the performance and made for a stable gameplay experience, but it seemed bleak for the upcoming Switch version because even the most powerful consoles could not run it well.
The Switch version did have close to three years of extra development, but many were pleasantly surprised to find a port that didn’t have the same issues as its other console counterparts. The game ran smoothly with minimal graphical downgrades, and it actually improved in some areas. The loading screens that were notoriously long on other consoles (still to this day), actually required less time on the Switch, and there were less noticeable dips in combat, even in handheld. This is most likely due to the Switch version being locked at 30 frames per second, but it is still impressive to see an adventure game such as this have a better gameplay experience when compared to much stronger consoles.
9. Crysis Remastered Trilogy
Including Crysis Trilogy Remastered on this list is technically breaking a rule already set (of not featuring any games from previous generations), but this is being included because it actually improves on the console versions that were released. This is a remastered version of Crysis 1-3, and it features better performance, improved graphical fidelity, and additional features. This is most noticeable in Crysis 1 and 2, as these games were released over ten year ago, but even Crysis 3 has noticeable upgrades and stability improvements.
The ports basically took the console version of Crysis 1-3, and improved them in every way to give the definitive Crysis experience on consoles. Yes, there are PS4 and Xbox One versions of this remastered trilogy that have been released as well, but they were created from the PC versions of the games. Switch is the only modern port that features an upgraded version of the original console releases. Additionally, it also features gyro aiming, which is something that cannot be found in any other version.
8. Metro Redux
This port of Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light is of particular interest because it is the first time this franchise has shown up on a Nintendo console. Like the last entry, these are games that were released on older consoles (although Last Light released on current and last gen consoles simultaneously) but have been significantly improved. There is more dynamic lighting, detailed textures, and smoother performance than the older releases, and the game achieves a more complete experience.
Perhaps most importantly though, the atmosphere of the game is significantly enhanced with these changes. Metro is a series that heavily relies on its atmosphere to create a unique and intriguing gameplay experience. The Switch version allows this to reach its final form, even more than the originals, and when comparing it alongside the PS4/Xbox remastered versions, it stacks up very well. This port was handled by the developers themselves rather than a third party company, so the difference between the PS4, Xbox, and Switch ports are marginal, and the care in each element is noticeable.
The port of Overwatch came too late in the game’s life to make a big splash, but it’s obvious the developers made good use of the time it took to port this game to Switch. The game plays perfectly, and with a highly competitive shooter that has such an emphasis on moment to moment gameplay, this was necessary for the Switch version to retain any players at all. With cross-play now implemented in Overwatch, this version has to stack up against the rest of the platforms, and in its current state it does.
There is also the added benefit of having gyro controls on Switch which is something that no other platform has. Many feel that this provides an advantage against other console players, as the aiming is more incremental and similar to a mouse. The one drawback to mention here is that the game runs at 30 frames per second, but that doesn’t necessarily impact playability, just the smoothness of the gameplay. Overall, this port allows for crisp gameplay that feels good in handheld and docked with gyro aiming, and graphical quality that is barely downgraded.
6. The Witcher 3: Complete Edition
Definitely one of the most heavily discussed Switch ports, The Witcher 3 challenged what we thought was possible to play on the handheld. Many rumors appeared about the game before its official announcement, and people were able to shrug those off by saying the system was not capable of running such a massive game. However, the naysayers were proved wrong, and this port is a great option to play what some consider to be the best RPG of all time.
Yes, there are some obvious downgrades to visual fidelity and resolution, but the game still feels amazing to play. There are minimal dips in performance, and many of the settings can be adjusted to give every player the best experience. Plus, the game has all the DLC included, which is an amazing feat on its own. Having such a sprawling, complex world with no missing features on a handheld is truly something to marvel at, and there is even a physical edition with no additional downloads required.
5. Doom / Doom Eternal
Doom set the standard for amazing ports on Switch. This port came out near the console’s release, and it shattered what people thought was possible on the handheld. The defining feature of Doom has always been intense, impactful gameplay, and it’s very important that each movement feels like there is weight behind it. Players want to feel like a bonafide demon slayer while they shoot, slash, and demolish, and bad performance or visual downgrades would heavily discount the experience.
Luckily, the Switch version somehow preserved all of this extremely well in a compact form. The gameplay feels just as intense as other consoles, and the performance is very solid. Of course, the game is locked at 30 FPS, but it does not detract from the action. Doom Eternal has a similar treatment on Switch, except with a little more graphical downgrades, so it is more of an honorable mention. However, both of these shooters being so well preserved on a handheld is extremely impressive, and the first Doom showing up on Switch opened up the discussion for what else could be ported to the device.
4. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition is a good example of developers going into a huge, sprawling game world and very thoughtfully adjusting each element to make the best portable version possible. Many things have been tweaked in Dragon Quest XI S, but the adjustments were specifically chosen to promote the most seamless player experience. A few examples are slightly lower polygon counts, less detailed surfaces, lighting adjustments, and closer object rendering. These features were selected because they don’t detract from the gameplay experience whatsoever.
The game still looks absolutely beautiful, the load times are almost identical to other consoles, and the core gameplay has only been improved (improvements that would come to other consoles later). This is really the definitive version of the game, and playing it on Switch with a handheld option present, will not restrict players from missing out on anything featured in other versions (except, of course, 60 FPS which is a recurring theme in this list).
3. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Hellblade is another game that shocked people showing up on the Switch, especially with how amazing it looked. People had a hard time finding significant differences between the PS4/Xbox graphics and the Switch versions, and the way that the developers achieved this was quite ingenious. Hellblade has a graphical style that is reminiscent of several AAA franchises (Assassin’s Creed, God of War, and Tomb Raider all come to mind), and to preserve this complex look, the developers converted many cutscenes that were real time events into full motion video.
Instead of having a camera fixate on a part of gameplay for the cutscene, there is actually a quick break that happens to load a pre-rendered cutscene quickly. This transition is nearly seamless, and it allows the Switch to handle these graphically intense scenes. A few more clever changes like this have been implemented in the port (such as increasing fog to reduce the needed models on screen), and the result is extremely impressive preservation of a game on a handheld system.
2. Dying Light Platinum Edition
Dying Light is a more recent port of a game that is over seven years old. However, it is a huge open world with many objects, enemies, and environments. Any game that has swarms of enemies on screen at one time is a risk, especially for lowered power devices. But, surprisingly, the Switch version of Dying Light does not have any issues handling even the max amount of enemies encountered during gameplay. In fact, the game looks and plays amazingly throughout its entirety.
This port may be the closest yet to mirroring PS4/Xbox One versions. The gameplay is nearly identical, and even the frame rate matches that of the other consoles. The only small sacrifice that is somewhat noticeable throughout is the render distance of objects in the environment. The objects take a little longer to show on the Switch version, but this does not affect gameplay whatsoever, and it takes looking for it to notice. Overall, this is one of the most impressive Switch ports to date, and it shows that the right care in development can take very taxing, complex games and bring them over to the Switch without issue.
1. Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition / Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition and Ori and the Will of the Wisps are two of the best Switch ports (if not the best) because there is essentially no difference between other consoles. The graphics have been perfectly preserved, the gameplay is smooth as ever with no performance dips, and the game runs at a consistent 60 FPS.
Both of these games are absolutely beautiful with gorgeous painting-like environments, emotional musical score, and impactful story, and there is nothing missing in the Switch ports. There are next to no drawbacks other than lower resolution, and playing these 2 games on Switch will allow the full gameplay experience with the option to play handheld.
Honorable Mention – Alien: Isolation
Since the rule established to not include Xbox 360/PS3 ports on this list was technically already broken in this article, it’s worth to add another entry to this list: Alien: Isolation. Although it is a port of a game that originally came out on Xbox 360 and PS3, it also got PS4 and Xbox One versions, and it is amazing to see that the Switch version actually improves on the visuals seen in those versions.
When comparing the port side by side with the PS4, the image quality has been improved on the Switch making the graphics look crisper and the finer details more visible. Additionally, the frame rate has been stabilized in this version, and there are just minor downgrades in a few barely noticeable areas. This is such an impressive feat for the Switch, and it allows for one of (if not the best) Alien game to shine even on a portable console.