Initial Impressions: Apex Legends Is Proof That Not Every Game Needs a Nintendo Switch Port

It's common for the community to beg developers/publishers for Nintendo Switch ports of their favorite games. The biggest hurdle is that the Switch simply isn't powerful enough to run some of the most frequently requested releases. Case in point: Apex Legends on Nintendo Switch.

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This is a game that skyrocketed to success on consoles in 2019 thanks to its diverse cast of characters, fast frenetic gameplay, and smart marketing. It also helps that it's free, offering high value with little investment out of your pocket. Apex Legends was never known for pushing visual boundaries, but on console and PC it runs and plays like you'd expect a modern game to — with a frame rate of 60FPS at 1440p resolution on newer consoles.

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On Nintendo Switch, however, the game runs at an uncomfortably low 720p while docked and 576p in handheld mode (though at times it seemed to dip below those numbers at times). While the low resolution isn't inherently a make or break stipulation, it does beg the question of why you'd pick the Switch version over any other option. Since Apex Legends is an online game, it's far less acceptable to deal with worse frame rate and resolution when you can't play it without an internet connection — meaning you'll likely be stuck at home or somewhere with a different platform that runs the game better.

When compared to something like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on Switch — a game that also has a very low resolution — we can be more forgiving of it since you're able to play it offline. That means you can experience the entirety of The Witcher 3 while in a car, plane, or elsewhere with no internet required.

If you're tethered to a spot with an internet connection, it doesn't make sense to choose the Nintendo Switch version of Apex Legends if you have other options. You might as well play it on PS4, PC, or literally any other platform because it will look and run noticeably better.

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The Nintendo Switch version of Apex Legends certainly isn't unplayable. We were able to enjoy several matches since its launch on March 9th, and — aside from a few crashes here and there — we found it to be a fun experience. We particularly enjoy how satisfying it is to take out an enemy squad while you're on the brink of death; or surviving against a team who has better positioning. The loop of searching the map for gear is also gratifying and keeps the momentum going — we just wish it looked better.

It is worth mentioning that playing Apex in handheld mode on Nintendo Switch won't give you as much precision and control as you'd get with a proper controller (like the Pro Controller). But the nice thing about the Switch version is that you can utilize motion controls, giving you more accuracy — almost like mouse and keyboard. So this version does have its perks.

If you only own a Nintendo Switch, we'd say Apex Legends is still worth checking out, especially since it's free. The game does offer cross-platform play, but you'll find that players on Nintendo Switch will be at a slight disadvantage due to having a lower frame rate and imprecise controls when compared to other platforms. That's why it might be a good idea to disable cross-play, so you'll paired only with Nintendo Switch players.

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At the end of the day, developer Panic Button did what they could given the limitations of the Nintendo Switch. The team is famous for working wonders with the handheld device, but this port's flaws are brought to the forefront more so since it's a competitive online game that requires pinpoint precision to come out on top. Visual fidelity is nowhere near as important with an offline game, so the downsides feel more prominent with Apex.

We're going to spend more time with the Apex Legends on Nintendo Switch to see how it pans out, but for now, this version leaves a lot to be desired when compared to the same game on other platforms. Sure, it'd be nice to have every game come to Switch, but given the limitations of the hardware, it's just not feasible.

Joseph loves Nintendo and horror games. When he's not writing about video games he can usually be found petting his cats and listening to some Progressive Metal. He thinks Meshuggah is tight.