Huge sacrifices have been made to bring Mutant Year Zero to Switch

Update 31/07 – Shortly after posting this review, we were made aware of a problem with our review build. It seems that, due to a technical hitch, we were given access to an old build and not one intended for review. We can confirm that our Build Number was 1.03.

We’ve since been supplied with Build 1.07 which provided some immediate differences. More specifically, it updated to the ‘Seed of Evil’ version and gave us the Stalker Trials. We also got to see a new opening cutscene which wasn’t there before. Pretty cool.

Unfortunately, aside from that, not much else has changed. Admittedly, there are some slight performance upgrades when in docked, with some textures looking a bit sharper and battles feeling less sluggish. However, the game still looks, acts, and feels incredibly blurred, distorted and disappointing.

Content wise, we absolutely love Mutant Year Zero and can’t recommend it enough. But sadly, the Switch port remains a bad apple. We do promise to keep tabs on it, though, and hope that Funcom can get it to where it needs to be.

 

Or not. Yikes…


Original Post: I am absolutely one of those people who wants everything on Switch. It’s the system I spend the most time on and the one I get the most enjoyment from.

But after playing one of my favourite games of last year, the excellent Mutant Year Zero for the past few days – both docked and handheld – my enthusiasm is starting to wane.

Just because I want a game on Switch, it doesn’t necessarily mean it should be on there. And some studios are definitely better at porting than others.

To be blunt, Mutant Year Zero looks awful on Switch. And it doesn’t run much better either. The resolution has been toned right down, everything looks blurred and grainy, textures have been stripped back to the bare minimum. Audio sounds tinny.

Switch has definitely had some rough ports, but this might just be the worst I’ve played. To be fair, though, I never got my hands on that awful WWE rendition.

Let me be clear, this is nothing to do with the game itself which is an absolutely brilliant XCOM style adventure, set in a thrilling post-apocalyptic world. You definitely need to play Mutant Year Zero, one way or another.

I just wouldn’t make that somewhere on Switch. At least, not yet. As we’ve also seen with other ports, miracles happen and games can come out looking a lot better. Take RiME, for instance.

And comparatively, I’ve also been playing another port this week – the excellent Pillars of Eternity. Let’s just say that runs much better, but more on that in the coming days.

From the moment you boot up Mutant Year Zero on Switch, you can tell huge compromises were made to make this possible. Even down to the epic soundtrack which has been gutted out at points.

The color palette looks basic, the draw distance has been so limited that almost everything feels enclosed by a black screen. The screen flashes when it transitions between areas. The textures lack depth and look equivalent to something you might see on a launch Wii game.

There’s no escaping the facts that this is a significant downgrade, especially if you’ve previously played the game on PC. It’s all a bit of a mess, really.

In its defense, I will say that the user interface, subtitles, and menu screens are very clear. Some of the best I’ve seen on Switch, in fact. Which is actually surprising considering most games can’t seem to get the balance right, and you spend most of your playtime squinting to try and read what someone’s saying.

How they got that but not much else right, I’ll never know.

The thing that really got me, though, is just how bad this also looks docked. This is far from just a handheld issue. In fact, the game actually looks much worse on TV because it exposes the technical limitations more, and seems even more stretched and faded.

And performance-wise, the game gets very sluggish when the action gets hectic, or your camera panning or fighting more than a few enemies. Considering almost all of the quality has been sucked out of it, I don’t understand how it’s quite this bad.

I really wanted this to be good as it’s the type of game that should fit Switch like a glove. Actually, it’s been one of my most anticipated Switch ports of the last few months. But I’m massively disappointed.

There’s not even any touchscreen options here which would have worked marvelously and do well on games like XCOM. You can’t even use the JoyCons as motion trackers for the game’s pointer. Which moves like ass when using control sticks, by the way.

So, that begs the question, what benefits does this port on Switch really offer? And honestly, I’d have to say none.  I couldn’t even recommend it for the portability because it does the game’s reputation more harm than good to see it in this state.

Do yourself a favour, go for one of the other consoles instead. Better yet, play it on PC. I know the temptation is strong to play this on the go. Believe me, I do, but you’ll just end up being disappointed, and may never take the time to play one of the best games in its class.

Mutant Year Zero deserves better.


Mutant Year Zero is out now on PC, Xbox, PS4 and Switch

Review code kindly provided by Publisher

Tested on Switch

About the author

Sam Diglett

Sam grew up with a PS2, spending hours howling at the moon in Okami and giving students wedgies in Bully. Fortunately, she also likes Pokemon because otherwise life could have been quite annoying for her.