Overwatch for Nintendo Switch review: A hit and miss for Blizzard

iMore Verdict

Bottom line: Overwatch on Switch isn't terrible and if the Switch is the only way for you to play it, then it's a must-buy due to its colorful cast of characters, and innovative gyro-controls. However, as it is right now, the more viable option is to get the game on PC or a console like the Xbox One or PS4 to get the experience that you deserve.


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    Gyro-aiming is fun with certain characters

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    A lot of replay value

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    Community feels less toxic so far

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    Easy to get into games

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    Use of touch screen surprisingly helpful


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    Frame rate drops can be jarring

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    A lot of lag during character selection

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    Looks horrendous when docked

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    Achievement-locked stickers feel pointless

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    Nintendo's bare minimum chat makes the experience feel lonely

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Overwatch (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

When the jokes of 'Overwatch on Switch' first happened, everyone let out an awkward chuckle. Not because the joke was funny, but the thought of Overwatch being on the Nintendo Switch was something that, despite having first-person shooters like Paladins and Fortnite on the console, was just something that we couldn't imagine. The Switch is great, but would we be able to play a game that focuses so much on accuracy and voice chat and enjoy it in the same way we would the PC or consoles like the Xbox One and PS4?

Well, now we have an answer to that. To put it bluntly: no, not really. Despite feeling giddy at playing one of my favorite games on handheld, it really is fool's gold. You look deeper at it, and you realize that it might not be all that great after all.

Though, it's not without effort on Blizzard's part. Overwatch on the Switch is most certainly not a pointless endeavor, and I'm almost certain that after a few patches that the game will actually be a viable option on the Switch.

A refreshing start

Overwatch: Legendary Edition What I like

Despite being a woman who loves a game that has expansive story and lore, I've found myself drawn to Overwatch all the same. That's mostly because it's characters are incredibly fun to play as, and are all so unique in how they play. No matter what I feel like playing, whether that's a sneaky, run-and-gun character or a bulky, bullet-eating tank, Overwatch has my back. Hell, if I just want to play as a hamster, there's that too!

The characters of Overwatch are further explored in the smallest of details, such as voice lines, sprays, and events. While I have issues with Overwatch's environmental storytelling, I can't deny the excitement I get when hearing a voice line that matches with another character. I heard quite a few on the Switch, mostly due to the Halloween event that is currently on, and it never failed to bring a smile to my face.

Gyro-aiming controls A new way to play

When Blizzard said that it was easy to dominate using gyro controls, I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical. It's one thing to be good at motion controls, it's quite the other to dominate the enemy team on a handheld console with a game that relies on accuracy and precision with every move. While I'm by no means an expert or even good at Overwatch on the PS4, I'd like to think I have a decent shot. My friends haven't kicked me out of their team yet, so that says something for sure.

What surprised me was that I wasn't a bad shot on the Switch either. Of course, some of the gyro-controls are better suited for certain characters, but Hanzo, Widowmaker and McCree players will have a field day with it. All it takes is one flick of the wrist, similar to how sniping is on PC, and you've got headshots for days. I cannot properly express my glee at getting a headshot on a Moira from miles away just because I flicked my Switch upwards a little to where I thought her head would be. Oh, such a sweet victory…

The pro-controller is the best way to play, especially for gyro-aiming.

That said, some characters aren't so fortunate when it comes to this sort of method. I found that out when playing D.VA, who can shoot wildly and still do a fair bit of damage, who's precision can be sorely damaged by even the smallest of movements of your wrist. Tracer too can feel as though I'm trying to control a wild bull, as her movements rely on speed and you're often left careening into a wall.

Nonetheless, the pro-controller is the best way to play, especially for gyro-aiming. I found using my Joy-Cons were especially difficult to use because half the time it felt most of my focus was on making sure I was pointing right where I wanted, instead of keeping an eye on the enemy team. For the pro-controller, it felt more natural to turn my wrist in a way that didn't feel like my hand was twitching everywhere. However, this may be due to my time playing Overwatch using the Dualshock controller.

Overwatch switch screenshot

Overwatch switch screenshot (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Touchscreen features Surprisingly helpful

Handheld Overwatch is full of surprises: one of them being able to do the littlest things just by pressing something on the screen. It's small, and it doesn't add a lot to the game per se, but there's something great about being able to endorse someone or give them a point for their teamwork at the end of a game with just a quick press of your finger. It feels unique and helpful.

Of course, it's just as easy to press a button, but I'll tell you something... It doesn't feel quite as cool.

The community Early days but the future is bright

Getting into my first game was a wild experience, and not because I could hardly stand to look at Mercy's poor, bloated face that has left her looking like someone entirely different, but because I was met with a surprising amount of decorum from a community I had sworn off so long ago.

Using Nintendo's god-awful voice system, I connected with a few kids, something which didn't entirely surprise me, and more than a few guys. Some of them had played the game before, others were rather avidly telling me to 'Free Hong Kong' (good for them) and others were really just there to try and understand the game as it was their first time playing. I stayed with a few of them for a while in a team group, and apart from some gentle ribbing at my poor D.VA skills (she's my main, so this particularly got me right in the heart), we got on pretty well.

Everyone seemed very welcoming, which was refreshing to witness

In fact, I don't think I met anyone particularly awful. That said, Overwatch on Switch is still in its early stage, and given enough time, could be full of trolls by next month. But as of right now? Everyone seemed very welcoming, which was refreshing to witness considering how online multiplayer usually is. If someone asked me which console they should get on Overwatch that doesn't have a lot of toxicity, I'd point firmly at the Nintendo Switch.

Even the simple gesture of saying 'thank you' after being healed was seen a lot more when playing on the Switch. As a poor, bedraggled Lucio who needs good vibes whenever I take up the mantle of healing people, this was particularly appreciated. Of course, the lack of messaging system and poor voice chat from Nintendo probably helped with the level of appreciation, but let's just pretend that it means I'm a good healer instead.

Starting again New eyes

One of the worst things about video games when they migrate to a new system is that you don't quite get the same feeling of 'newness' that you got when you played it the first time.

Overwatch on the Switch actually does manage that. With the gyro-controls, and the shiny appeal of starting at level 1, you get the sense that this really is a new start. A new start appealing enough that you'll be able to do things you weren't able to do so before. Hence why, after much grousing from myself, I picked up a DPS character first instead of opting for being a tank or healer.

It was a refreshing change of pace, and while I did end up playing my usual heroes, it was nice to not have people look at who I'd played before and demand I swap to that character. Instead, I could pretty much play whoever I wanted, which led to some odd character choices for me (Torbjorn may be my new main, oops), but it was a nice feeling that I don't think I could feel again on any other console.

Overwatch: Legendary Edition What I don't like

It's difficult to pinpoint what I don't like the most about Overwatch on the Switch, especially because it's not too bad of a port. It's just not great either, feeling mediocre in comparison to the other versions out there, versions that either aren't let down by Nintendo's rubbish voice chat or actually allow you to get the full experience of Overwatch without leaving you wondering if you're missing anything.

Because while gameplay is mostly the same, there is a lack of features that makes Overwatch on Switch feel like a second-rate port. What's worse is that it isn't even really the fault of the game, but the limitations of the Switch and how much a player can access on the console.

The game is ugly when docked Mercy, what happened to your face?!

I just want to make it clear that I don't usually mind what a game looks like, as long as it isn't so unappealing I can't help but notice. Handheld Overwatch has an occasional blockiness, particularly during the Halloween event. It's not a deal-breaker by any means, and I can look past that.

Docked Overwatch, on the other hand, is a complete mess. It's barely noticeable in events, as long as you don't get up close and personal with your teammates, but the 'boss' fights tell an entirely different story and it's a shame. Textures are missing and it looks as though they've been smeared with Vaseline to make them shiny and stand out. Basically, they look like they belong in the House of Wax.

Overwatch is far from being the most beautiful game in the world, but this is hard to look past. Seriously, what the hell happened to Mercy's face? Is she okay? Someone, please help her.

Docked Overwatch, on the other hand, is a complete mess.

It isn't just the characters that have some seriously sketchy looks, but the environment too suffers when the Switch is docked. I occasionally had cars, and even worse, the payload, flicker in and out of existence during a match. It would load back up eventually, but resembled more of a blob. Since Blizzard's updates, this hasn't happened to me again, but it's quite obvious that, despite advertising, this game feels like it shouldn't be played in any way but handheld. The Switch just cannot handle it.

If you're the kind of person who needs Overwatch on their TV, then the only answer is to just skip the Switch entirely and instead go for the PS4 or Xbox One version of the game. You'll not only be happier, but the game will look much nicer, which – if you love to see that kind of thing – is what you deserve.

Anyone want some lag? Lagwatch

While I didn't experience as much lag as my friends have when playing Overwatch, it would be a lie that I didn't experience any at all. Most of it was what I mentioned above, but there were also times where I had no idea what character I was playing and not just because I was playing Mystery Heroes. No, it was because my character just didn't load until about 5 or so minutes into the match.

I noticed that the enemy also had the same issue at times, becoming floating red orbs that shot arrows and bullets at me. It was often hard to counter them, as unless they had a certain sort of weapon (e.g Lucio's sound waves) that it took me a while to figure out how to respond. Not the greatest of obstacles to encounter considering this is a team-based FPS, but there it is.

On a more positive note, I at least didn't suffer from lag when I was actually playing the game. My shots were never off, which feels weird considering I could barely load into the game at times. While my character suffered from a ridiculous amount of lag, my abilities and bullets were pretty accurate.

Switch hinders Overwatch's potential Achievements and chat

Overwatch has so much potential on the Switch, but this port is far from helping the game reach it. In fact, it feels as though everything that makes this game such a delight to play has been ripped from it. For example, if you're like me and need to get some serotonin from getting trophies and achievements, then you won't be getting a scrap of either of these things from Overwatch on the Switch.

Overwatch has so much potential on the Switch, but this port is far from helping the game reach it.

Again, this is not entirely the fault of the game but you can tell that corners have been cut for this port. Stickers that you can earn by doing certain things with heroes, such as killing someone mid-air as Widowmaker, are near impossible to understand through the game alone. Instead, you'll see that a sticker is locked, along with a 'must complete so and so' to earn this sticker and that's it. You're not told what the achievement name means or what you even need to do to earn it, leaving you completely dependent on the internet to figure stuff out.

What makes it worse is that a lot of these things would be forgivable if something else had taken the lack of features place. For example, while I'm of the opinion that Nintendo doesn't need to adapt 'trophies' to their consoles, a simple explanation of what you would need in order to unlock something would have been beneficial to Switch players. Or even the inclusion of allowing those who have unlocked those achievements on PC or console to transfer their data over onto the Switch, similar to how Divinity Original Sin 2 allowed that to happen with their Switch port.

Ther's also the fact that Nintendo's voice chat is such a chore to set up, making it all too obvious that voice chat in the game will be rare at best. Sure, it's easy to connect with others and make friends, but actually grouping together and chatting? It feels next to impossible, making one of the best things about the game, chatting with your friends, a tiresome act.

Overwatch: Legendary Edition Bottom Line

A lack of data-transfer, lag, and restrictions of some incredible features makes this port feel barebones.

Overwatch on the Switch has such massive potential on the Nintendo Switch for a lot of reasons: introducing a new player base to the game and a chance to foster a kind community, as well as allowing older players to start afresh in a way that actually feels new. The inclusion of cool new features such as gyro-aiming is also a huge plus. However, a lack of data-transfer, lag, and restrictions of some incredible features makes this port feel barebones in comparison to other ports on the Switch.

If you're eager to experience Overwatch for yourself and have no other way to play, then the Switch version still has its merits. However, to get the full experience of Overwatch then the only answer is to play on PC or other consoles.

Aimee Hart