We got the opportunity to interview Eric DeMilt, production director for The Outer Worlds, and we asked him all sorts of questions about porting the game to Switch, working with Virtuos, and the odds of seeing future work from Obsidian on Nintendo platforms. You can check out the full exchange below.
Nintendo Enthusiast: With the Nintendo Switch being less powerful than the base PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, what areas did the team have to cut back on (if any) to get The Outer Worlds running properly on Switch?
Eric DeMilt: Every platform is unique. The technical differences between different platforms always represent a big challenge in the porting process. Tackling things like memory, CPU, and GPU differences can be difficult. This is where working with the experienced Switch developers at Virtuos really paid off.
Although we made changes to the game engine and assets to optimize things for the Switch, I hesitate to say we cut anything back. We focused on giving players a full-featured experience with The Outer Worlds on the Switch.
NE: What resolution and FPS does the Switch version run at in docked and portable mode?
DeMilt: Players can expect 30 FPS with 720p in handheld and 1080p docked.
NE: What were the challenges to port a game of The Outer Worlds‘ scale to what is essentially a mobile device? How did you tackle loading times?
DeMilt: As I said, every platform is different and brings its own challenges. The Nintendo Switch is an amazing piece of hardware, but its designers did have to make choices about memory and processing power in exchange for meeting portability and battery life goals.
There is no one-size-fits-all optimization fix to get a PC/console game running on the Switch — everything is interrelated. You look to optimize texture assets for a different memory footprint, a smaller screen, and a simplified renderer; this then benefits load times and streaming.
The experience of the dev team at Virtuos really paid off for us here. They knew going in what they could get out of the hardware and were able to make intelligent choices about what changes needed to happen while preserving the gameplay experience.
NE: Are there any new or exclusive features in the Nintendo Switch version of The Outer Worlds (aside from portability!)?
DeMilt: The most noteworthy unique changes on the Switch were made to improve gameplay and controllability when it comes to how the game played on the console. We added aim assist, and support for motion aiming, and exposed more controller sensitivity values to the user.
NE: Was cross-save between platforms ever on the table? (ex: Civilization VI, The Witcher 3, etc.)
DeMilt: We had some conversations about it and it would have been nice to have, but we made the decision to focus our development time and energy on making sure we had a complete gameplay experience for The Outer Worlds on the Switch.
NE: What would you say is the likelihood of publishing more games on Nintendo Switch or another Nintendo platform?
DeMilt: As a developer and a Nintendo fan, I hope so, but that’s really a decision made by our publishing partners at Private Division and Microsoft.
NE: Do you condone playing The Outer Worlds on Switch while on the toilet?
DeMilt: 100% – TOW is all about player choice. TOW on the Nintendo Switch gives you the freedom to make that choice.
It’s been a long wait, (The rest of the world has already had the chance to completely obliterate the game through speedruns.) but The Outer Worlds Switch is finally almost here. Right now, it’s available for pre-purchase on the eShop for $59.99. Think you’ll pick it up? If you aren’t sure just yet, sit tight for our coming review to give you the lowdown.
[This interview has been edited for clarity.]