It’s Kind Of Amazing How Well Wolfenstein 2 Runs On The Switch

It’s Kind Of Amazing How Well Wolfenstein 2 Runs On The Switch

GIF: Digital Foundry (YouTube)

Games that have adaptive resolutions are the ones that tend to handle the Switch transition the best. Wolfenstein 2 is one such game, and while studio Panic Button has made some savage cuts to maintain the frame rate, the game’s Switch port holds up surprisingly well.

Unsurprisingly, Wolfenstein 2 doesn’t run at 60fps on the Switch. But the game is exactly the same as what you’d get on the PC, PS4 or Xbox One, structurally at least. The maps and gameplay is intact, but the Switch has some particular problems when it comes to GPU and memory.

So Panic Button pulled out some neat tricks, as Digital Foundry outlines below. Much like the consoles of old, some areas of the map have walls that you won’t find in the original Wolfenstein 2 release. This is designed to help with load when traversing certain areas.

The other is the one we’ve come to expect: a drop in resolution. The game bottoms out – in docked mode as well as handheld – at 360p, which results in a pretty blurry image. The low resolution is most noticeable on a large TV, and if you’re going to pick up Wolf 2 handheld mode is the way to go.

But the benefit of all those cuts is a pretty reliable frame rate, save for a couple of areas. The game’s only 21GB on the Switch as well, less than half the size of the game’s install size on the Xbox One X. Given that the Switch has much less storage (even with microSD expansion cards) than a proper console, that’s a huge help.

New Orleans is rough, but it’s still a lot more playable than what we saw in the Switch version of PAYDAY 2. Note that you’ll get a little more instability playing in portable mode — since the GPU can’t run at its full capacity.

But it’s an impressive effort nonetheless. The hardware in the Switch is leagues behind the Xbox One, PS4 and their beefier cousins, but you’re still getting the same game with the same design, same levels and same pace of gameplay. It’s not 60fps, sure, but you’re also dealing with a console you hold in your hands that doesn’t need so much power it sets them on fire.


  • I still think it should have been marketed as a hand held first as it is definitely remarkable as one, but I still find it lackluster as a console.

    • That’s probably fair. It excels at handheld, but comes up short in docked when compared to standard consoles. Still, when I go back to Mario Odyssey and play it docked, I sometimes stop and just gawp at how beautiful some levels are on my 70″ tv. Nindy really squeezed some juice out of the box for that title, at least.

        • Yeah, but it is an art style that plays well with the lower specs and that is great. The problem is always going to be fine detail at long distances for the Switch, though I am interested to see the techniques they come up with to overcome these shortcomings (hopefully they are more interesting than block line of sight).

    • Yes, but Nintendo wants to have their cake and eat it too, so they consider the Switch to be a home console and the 3DS is still their handheld. Because reasons.

      (IMO it’s a handheld first and foremost, it just happens to have a convenient TV-out function)

      • But it is a home console too? A home console that you can pick up and take with you.

        TBH, the portable bit doesn’t interest me at all. I think I’ve used it in handheld maybe twice besides playing with Labo with the kids. It gets a butt load of play time though, just docked.

        • That’s fine, but you should know that you’re in the minority – the majority use it significantly or exclusively undocked.

          • I use it like my wii u; on the couch grinding an rpg while Netflix is on the tv.

            I missed that SO much in monster hunter world…

            Nintendo calling the switch a home console to spare the 3ds gives me dejavu about the original DS “totally not being a replacement for the gameboy brand”.

            They’re hedging their bets, saving their branding just in case the new thing flops.

          • It’s less that they’re worried the Switch will flop at this point and more not wanting to kill the 3DS when it still makes ridiculous bank for them.

          • I still think of it as a home console first and foremost – despite the fact I play it more undocked around the house (but not outside) than i do docked; both playstyles get their time in though.

          • This was definitely not the case with the stats they reported in December, so it’s shifted significantly in the last six months.

          • Reading that article, it seems to suggest that when Nintendo counts actual online accounts the skew is significantly away from docked play, but when you account for all time spent on the system by all accounts it goes 50/50, which is actually probably data skew – if I primarily play it undocked, but spend 20% of my time playing it docked with three family members that each have their own account but never touch the system otherwise, that 20% is going to be counted again for each family member separately giving you 80% docked (20% of my time, plus the same amount of time for each family member) and 80% undocked play time on the system overall, and magically you have a 50/50 split despite the primary user not using it that way.

        • I consider it a handheld and have used it as such maybe a fraction of a percent of the thousands of hours I’ve spent on it, but even while treating it as a console (with handy portable function) it’s still constrained by having to also be a handheld. So many concessions in its design and function just so it can play on the go instead of only while plugged into a TV and mains supply. That’s why I’d classify it primarily as a handheld, regardless of how I personally treat it.

      • Had to upvote that to balance out the universe… Like you, I’ve had my Switch since launch, and aside from the first week playing docked, and finishing Zelda, i have not even used the dock o charge it….

        my dock sits inside a drawer in my man cave, hasnt been hooked up since then.

        Its an awesome handheld, i just dont see it as a console… tbh i would see it as a huge win at this point if they halted development for 3ds and focused exclusively on the switch…

        • Apparently people don’t understand that downvote != disagree.

          I’m not making the stat up either, it’s straight from Nintendo:

          Using the telemetry they gathered across all their users in all countries, they found that around 18% use the system exclusively docked. About 30% use it exclusively as a handheld, and the remaining 52% or so use it in both modes.

          Personally I have it sitting in the dock to charge but it’s primarily a handheld. The only time I played it off handheld was the brief time I spent with Breath of the Wild and Xenoblade 2, and I imagine if I ever feel like going back to either title and giving them a proper shake it’ll be primarily handheld. The games look way better on the screen than my TV and I find playing on the TV to be not so great an experience (I realized after moving into my current place that I really should have gotten a 65″ set, with my shit eyesight my couch is too far away for a 55″)

  • Just picked this up. Haven’t tried it in docked yet, but I don’t really plan to. Just wanted some late night nazi-thrashings while lying in my warm bed. ^^

    Panic Button has done an amazing job tho. I really hope other publishers see what they’ve done and tap the market. Arkham Trilogy Remaster pls!

  • There’s something super satisfying about hardware being pushed to its limits via clever design. Imagine what today’s powerhouse PC GPUs could turn out if games were designed to take full advantage of their capabilities.

  • Remember kids there are lots of things you can do with a Nazi and a hatchet.. you are only limited by your imagination !

  • 30fps and 360p, about what Wolfenstein 3D ran on a Ms-Dos PC 25 years ago. We sure have progressed.

    • Yeah, but now the dogs don’t have to run diagonally! That’s some next gen shit right there.

  • The fact they have to make such significant compromises to get the game running at playable framerates worries me, given that it’s only a year old. That’s a lot of work that went into the port – does it pay off? Is it the right approach to be pushing big AAA games to it, rather than developing stuff for it that actually plays to its strengths? Makes me worried that the system won’t have any legs in 12-18 months or so when we’re comparing it against the XB1 / PS4 successors. 360p even when docked is going to really struggle to justify itself alongside the same thing running at 4k & 60fps…

    • If the Switch was made just to port AAA games, it would not have got of the ground. There are a lot of made for Switch games being released and a lot of indie games, this is where the switch will thrive, the ports are just a bonus. Octopath Traveler is out in 10 days, this game is a perfect example of what the switch is made for.

      • Yes, the indie space and Japan seem to understand the Switch quite well. Does the rest of the world though?

        • They seem to. I believe it’s Nintendo’s fastest selling console and I doubt any people bought it just because they could play AAA ports on it. They are more of a bonus I suppose. I’m totally going to pick this game up though. Wolfenstein with gyro aiming? I’m in.

        • I think we are about to find out this year with Smash Bros and the new Pokemon games. I’m not really a fan of either, but I think these releases will send Switch sales skyrocketing.

    • Pay off? Depends who you ask, I guess. For a hardcore specs fan who was first in line to buy the newest versions of the PS4 and/or XBone, and/or has a top of the line PC, probably there’s no pay off? But does that person have a Switch? Do they want it? And if they do, what would be the point of it being just as capable of rendering AAA games like the other machines that they already have?

      For a person who has a switch and doesn’t have the other consoles and doesn’t have or doesn’t like PC gaming, this represents a chance to play a great game they couldn’t before. The kind of amazing experiences they have had with first-party games in the Switch even with its modest specs will have adjusted their expectations so it doesn’t feel as a compromise either.

      In other words, this game will not make people buy a Switch. It is a port for people who already have it. And given the popularity of the Switch, this will just represent printing extra money for the developers, so they, too, are seeing a pay off.

  • Doesn’t the switch run at like half speed or something when undocked? or is that just a power saving option you can disable?

    • It cuts the gpu power automatically to grace the device with some semblance of battery life, and it’s non-negotiable.

      In first party titles it works very well, leveraging the small screen to hide the power saving measures. Third party titles tend to be blunter.

      • Is it only when unplugged though, or does it run properly when plugged in (but still undocked)? If not it’d be nice if it did.

        • Nah, it only changes performance profile when it detects the hdmi signal.

          This means you’ll be able to charge and play without requiring the full amperage of the switch power supply. Helps for things like power banks or phone chargers when out.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!