It’s official: I’ve made the Switch switch. After dabbling in Warframe on the PC for a couple of years now, I’ve migrated to the Nintendo handheld world. I’ve always been a strongly PC gamer with a Nintendo console on the side for exclusives like Zelda and Smash Bros., but I never thought I’d play anything resembling an MMO, much less a shoooter, on console. Keyboard and mouse just gives you so much more accuracy than a controller, and most days I’d much rather communicate with strangers by typing than voice chat. But, for whatever reason, every time I try to play Warframe on PC, my hands and wrists start to hurt. I think it’s just the finger gymnastics involved in running, sliding, and jumping. I’ve tried remapping the keys to more comfortable positions, but it hasn’t helped. A USB Xbox controller makes things more comfortable, but then we’re back to the loss of accuracy problem. The solution: Switch gyro controls. Yes, I know, I’ve hated on the Wiimote’s motion controls for over a decade now, but playing Splatoon 2 on the Switch Pro Controller with gyro controls on has changed my mind. It’s the next best thing to a keyboard and mouse, because you can use the right thumbstick for course adjustments, and the gyro controls to fine tune your aim. It takes some getting used to, but after a couple of hours it feels pretty natural. I was actually able to beat a boss that was giving me trouble last time I played on PC on the first try!
Can we talk about how good this game looks on Switch? It’s not as good as maxed out settings on PC, but a few years ago I would never have believed Nintendo could squeeze this kind of graphical fidelity into a handheld tablet form factor. Next time someone claims that the Switch has the same hardware as the Wii/Wii U, I’m going to show them this game. Sure, it’s not 1080p@60fps, but I’ve never really been able to tell that difference from my couch. I saw some minor FPS drops on particularly hectic missions, but nothing game breaking (and I’m told these can be improved by dialing back the settings if you find them particularly troubling). It’s really impressive!
While the game is, sadly, not crossplay with the PC, Digital Extremes was kind enough to allow PC players to copy their PC accounts to the Switch, as they did when the XBOne/PS4 versions came out a while back. That’s really nice, because it would be sad to lose out on the items and gear I’ve spent time farming for (or gotten from Twitch). The only thing that didn’t transfer was the cash shop currency platinum, so I used up my platinum buying the Octavia ‘frame and some extra slots before I transferred. This techno bard-style class is one of the things that made me pay attention to this game; I actually thought Warframe was just a lobby shooter in the vein of Overwatch when I first heard about it, but for some reason I read an article on the launch of Octavia and my interest was piqued. I love bards in any form, so I’m looking forward to learning to play this one.
Will Warframe ever become my main not-quite-an-MMO? No, but it has replaced Marvel Heroes (which shut down 1 year ago today, RIP) as a mindless, casual side game that allows me to grind for lots of fun stuff without having to spend a penny (unless I want to look cool). The Switch version has made it a lot more accessible to me, not only because I can play it portably, but also because its control scheme is easier. I’m looking forward to the new open world Fortuna zone coming to Switch. I spent a little bit of time in it on PC and thought it was really cool (no pun intended) and made the game feel a lot more MMOish and less like the single player/co-op game that it launched as.