The Outer Worlds on Switch demands we reevaluate the artistic value of ports


Prior to its initial release on PC and home consoles, a big deal in previews of the The Outer Worlds was made about the "flaws" system and the greater roleplaying this could lead to as you finely developed your player character. This mechanic was a little underwhelming with the original release, so it is exciting to see it revisited and expanded on for the Switch port, and the perfect example of why the portable version is worthy of reevaluation. Indeed, every player character in the port is now severely myopic. Their heavily impaired sight makes even the closest and biggest of objects indistinct, while distant enemies blur completely into the background. It really adds to the sense of danger and exploring the unknown, so kudos to the devs for making such a brave and inclusive decision.

Also adding to the game's flavour and in-keeping with the corporate dystopian setting, the Switch version appears to have been sponsored by Vaseline. You haven't seen visuals like this since Myst on the PSP - and I say that with no exaggeration. You will, should you play this port, be left in utter disbelief at what such corporate sponsorship can achieve.

Care has really been taken to make playing The Outer Worlds on Switch feel like you're exploring distant, alien worlds. Gone are the familiar, human inhabitants from the original release. The sparingly textured ghouls that replace them exude an uneasy sense of otherworldliness, made even more apparent when you enter conversation and they inexplicably resolve themselves into a vaguely more human form. It makes the conversations more pleasant, sure, but somehow only increases the player's unease. This balancing act can not have come easy.

The graphical improvements don't stop there. Taking inspiration from the real-life planetary probes of the 1970s, the textures of the planet surfaces have been radically altered to more accurately appear like they would in a photo taken from orbit with fifty year old camera technology. When scientists and public alike first saw those images of other planets in the latter half of the last century, they all wondered what it would be like to set foot on those strange worlds. Now, finally, we can relive those moments from history. Cynics may look upon these textures and see only what is lacking, but us pioneers, we look deep within those indistinct smears and see the unending possibilities of the exploration of space.

So too it is with the removal of all the unnecessary set dressing. The devs of the Switch port really understand that sometimes, less is more. In clearing out those useless rocks and trees (some things that might be trees do remain, but it's hard to tell) the horizon really opens up, allowing the player to properly appreciate the sweeping impressionist vistas and newly minimalist sky boxes. These moments give the player pause to think on all of the port's many improvements, and reflect on their purchasing decision.


A blind man stumbling through a barren world, talking with things that were once human. That's The Outer Worlds on Switch.

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