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Nier Automata for Nintendo Switch - DF Tech Review - Another Impossible Port?

Myst game steamamerican dad steaming NIER:AUTOMATA™ gameplay near automata is one of the most celebrated last generation action titles the game marries Platinum gamess signature stylings with inventive varied gameplay and a mind-bending narrative but the game was beset by frame rate and image quality issues on last gen machines with wobbly performance coupled with plenty of aliasing which is why the games just released switchport came as a bit of a surprise when it was announced a few months ago theres a huge performance gap between the switch and even the base last gen consoles and precious little room to cut resolution before image quality becomes unacceptably poor this would seem like one of the so-called impossible ports a technically demanding title downscaled for Nintendos hybrid console often with somewhat mixed results but with switch porting specialists virtuos at the helm perhaps expectation should be set a little bit higher so is this a mobile Miracle or a portable pain foreign automata was a technically challenging title on last gen consoles despite relatively pedestrian visuals the game targeted 900p without any anti-aliasing on base PS4 and Xbox One with somewhat messy performance on both machines 40 to 60 FPS was the typical run of play here with combat and open world traversal causing issues its important to keep this relatively poor showing in mind because the Nintendo switch Falls far short of those machines in raw number crunching performance this was a technically messy game that isnt typically the kind of last-gen title that Ferris wheel on switch so what kind of compromises are we seeing here relative to the base last gen consoles the switch release is comprehensively downgraded though the overall image still looks surprisingly comparable measuring the game up against its Xbox One counterpart the first thing that really stands out is a significant reduction in texture detail across the board textures are degraded with lower resolutions and simplified layers and material in some areas the textures look kind of soupy with no fine detail to speak of though most of the time its not quite as severe foliage is paired back and altered to better fit the switch trees and bushes feature much lower resolution Alpha textures and have simplified layouts appearing much less dense as a result grass density has only been mildly paired back but curiously the 3D polygonal grass in the original versions of the game has been replaced with Alpha tested textures its a big change visually but the results generally do look fine although they do appear a little bit too bright when presented under shadowed regions lighting has been simplified to some degree this is most clear with respect to the games Dynamic light sources which are often stripped back or removed in particular most of the point Lighting in background areas has been removed volumetric lighting also appears to be absent on switch or at least significantly scaled back there are also some pretty significant differences in ambient lighting at times though I have to to imagine that tweaks to the global illumination system present on last gen consoles or possibly its removal maybe to blame most of the time however the two versions do look fairly similar in this regard its mostly the smaller scale details that seem to stand out when there are differences some of the geometric detailing environments has been lost this is occasionally quite obvious these River Rocks for example are much more numerous on last gen console mostly though the downgrades are small and only really stick out in side-by-side comparisons things like less rounded barrels here or block your debris on the ground particle effects are modestly scaled back as well fewer particles are spawned during explosions sword hits and Dodges in the heat of combat this concession isnt too noticeable but fights do appear a little bit less intense as a result on the hall though the switch release mostly looks quite comparable to the last gen console versions while there are a Litany of cuts most dont particularly stand out when actually playing and the game still looks and feels as it should in some shots these two machines are basically neck and neck delivering slightly different looking but similarly capable versions of the same shot there are also plenty of basic deficiencies that are apparent on both consoles to more or less the same degree Poppin is a major issue with distant geometry often using a painfully simple LOD until the player gets quite close a across both platforms the higher detail lods popped in at about the same distances across my testing and the simplified assets appeared to be identical Shadow resolution is quite low on Xbox one as well with blocky outlines only slightly mitigated by Soft filtering the switch surprisingly fares about the same with a comparable treatment of Shadow detail there is no screen space ambient occlusion on either of the platforms so geometry often looks flat and disconnected from the scene on switch this is perfectly understandable but the same absence on Xbox one feels a little bit strange there is one major settings advantage that the switch release does have however the switch version of near automata comes packaged with anti-aliasing the anti-aliasing coverage doesnt particularly impress and gives the impression of a simple post-process technique but it does exceed the last gen versions on base consoles which inexplicably lacked anti-aliasing in areas with a lot of distant detail or find foliage the switch often exhibits better image stability than Xbox One some shots do look substantially softer though which ultimately comes down to the switchs resolution setup in docked mode the switch aims for a 1080p resolution which is actually higher than the last gen based consoles some shots do count a little bit below that figure but in most screenshots with some form of countable detail you can find 1080p edges however the resolve throughout any given shot does tend to vary quite a bit especially during movement and there are some stippling artifacts on certain edges suggesting that a form of reconstruction may be in play post-processing appears to run at Full Resolution while geometry looks soft and imprecise with some artifacting but often resolves at 1080p in still shots while stationary you can observe some slightly distracting pixel shifting at times as well which is possibly a byproduct of Recon instruction the Xbox One X version did use a form of checkerboarding to hit a 4K resolution but the result here does look quite a bit different the 1X suffered from extremely obvious checkerboard artifacts on close inspection with a lot of image breakup while the image on switch tends to be better behaved the portable mode adopts a similar setup but this time the target resolution is 720p compared side by side the image does resolve less clearly than in the docked mode but obviously on the switches screen it does hold up much better it looks reasonably sharp and clean on the internal display most of the time although sometimes it does look a little bit soft and a lot of scenes really pop on the switch OLED panel in particular outside of resolution it seems to be a match for the docked mode in terms of visual settings as well Music so how does performance shake out virtuos has sensibly cut the frame rate target here from 60fps on last gen home consoles to 30fps year 60fps was a challenge on exponentially more capable Hardware so the reduced frame rate was probably inevitable at first I was very impressed with the performance level yes this is a 30 FPS game but it did feel remarkably consistent essentially a locked 30 FPS with stable frame pacing for the first hour or so of gameplay I did notice a drop or two while playing but these were very minor my only issue at this point was the lack of any sort of motion blur which if 30fps action game with a lot of melee combat like this could really make good use of the cutscenes which are a mix of pre-encoded in real-time sequences also play back perfectly well but as I continued to play the pitcher got less Rosy small frame rate hitches became more common particularly when traversing sections of the open world and when fighting enemies it was still quite consistent but these small interruptions were definitely noticeable when automata drops frames the frame rate cap momentarily doesnt work as it should so you get a mix of 16 33 and 50 millisecond frames instead of just 33 and 50 millisecond frames as would typically be the case as I closed up my time with the switch release of near automata however more pronounced frame rate issues became fairly common some of the larger fights mostly played out in sub 30 FPS territory and hung in the low to mid-20s at worst a handful of environments also caused extended frame rate issues I played the game for over a dozen hours long enough to get past the sequence around the first ending where some of the more taxing fights in the game are located overall though I do think that the performance level is reasonable considering the hardware and the relatively strong quality of visuals compared to last gen home consoles 30 FPS is the norm with momentary dips that dont detract Too Much from the experience its really the larger battles that can prove seriously problematic though this is hardly representative of the majority of the action portable mode seems to quit itself about as well with good performance overall with occasional sub 30 FPS moments my impression is that the frame rate level here is perhaps a little bit more consistent though with fewer drops in general play a small handful of switch titles have leveraged new technology to breathe life into older games alien isolation Metro 2033 and Metro last Light are perhaps the best examples with the addition of TAA arguably transforming them into the best looking console versions of those titles new rendering techniques can indeed ratchet up image quality to the point where switch releases can visually outperform much more powerful hardware near automata on switch isnt quite at that level of quality but the same principles still apply the original releases of near automata in 2017 and 2018 had a pretty basic rendering setup with no reconstruction tricks or even anti-aliasing at least on the base console platforms but here we do have anti-aliasing plus what seems to be a form of reconstruction plus we get other custom tailored changes to the visuals like the replacement of the polygonal grass clearly a lot as time and effort was invested into making this port Shine by leveraging new tech virtuos has reworked the game to the point where it looks similar to the Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game overall and can even look a little bit better at times performance isnt perfect but it is quite good and it does manage to maintain a 30fps update through most gameplay so the switch Port of near automata is quite impressive smart visual concessions along with new rendering Tech combined to create a modernized version of this game that manages to run perfectly well on the switchs Aging mobile Hardware automata is a modern action classic that is well worth experiencing and Nintendos hybrid console offers a smartly optimized reinterpretation that works great on the go if you enjoyed this video please like subscribe and press the bell for YouTube notifications check out the patreon at digitalfoundry.net for exclusive and Early Access content and to get in touch just use Twitter thanks for watching steam tunic game Although its hardly state-of-the-art in terms of its rendering, Nier Automata pushed the last-gen base consoles hard - so we approached a Nintendo Switch port with some trepidation. Has conversion house Virtous managed to deliver another impossible port for the Nintendo hybrid? Just how did the developer manage to get the game running on Switch at all? Oliver Mackenzie has answers.Join the DF Patreon for pristine video downloads, behind the scenes content, early access to DF Retro, early access to DF Direct Weekly and much, much more: Subscribe for more Digital Foundry: Want some DF-branded tee-shirts, mugs, hoodies or pullovers? Check out our store: add gog game to steam library ark steam and windows 10 crossplay steam game profile steam gratis game multiversus steam or epic games