For a few years now, Microsoft has shifted gears (no pun intended) moving in a direction reminiscent of its early original Xbox, and Xbox 360 days. The company has been acquiring several studios to work under their Microsoft Studios (Now Xbox Game Studios) banner in order to boost their portfolio of exclusive games.
Exclusive games are the primary reason why Sony’s PlayStation 4 was such a successful console over the last 7 years, and Microsoft is intent on regaining its lost market share (and on history not repeating itself) with the upcoming Xbox Series X.
One the of the most significant acquisitions for the software (and hardware giant) has been Obsidian Entertainment. The purchase of the talented RPG Studio has been a godsend for many Xbox fans, as Obsidian is the team responsible for Fallout: New Vegas (AKA the best Fallout game to many gamers), and the recently released The Outer Worlds (Metacritic: 85).
The Outer Worlds Production Director Eric DeMilt shed some light on the visually disastrous Switch port of the game and on what it is like for the company to now (after the TOWs release) become an exclusive first party studio for Xbox Game Studios. The following excerpts are from an mmorpg.com interview:
On the compromises made for the Unreal Engine 4 powered game to run on the Nintendo Switch:
“The technical differences are pretty much exactly what you’d expect them to be. The Nintendo Switch is an amazing piece of hardware, but the game had to be modified to account for differences in memory, CPU, and GPU capabilities. Unreal Engine 4 is powerful, and makes cross-platform development a lot easier, but you don’t just flip a switch (apologies) and have it output a working Nintendo Switch version. A lot of work went on under the hood by the experienced team of Switch developers at Virtuos to get the port done. Players can expect a full-featured Outer Worlds experience at 30 FPS with 720p in handheld and 1080p docked.” – Eric DeMilt
The website goes on to a footnote which disproves DeMilt’s lofty goals for the port as Digital Foundry ( may they forever be blessed) tested the port and found that the game hit neither of those targets consistently with 1080p being an impossible target to hit even in the game’s docked mode. With game hitting 720p while docked with many instances of the game dropping below that (Dynamic Resolution), and hitting 540p while undocked, with game dipping to 384p, as its low point in said portable mode.
The port is so pedestrian in terms of graphics that our own Editor in Chief Mont Cessna compared Quest 64’s (a 22 year old game) simplistic foliage with the Switch port of Outer Worlds implementation of foliage in an unfavorable manner for the latter game.
The interview goes on to ask DeMilt what it was like to now work under Microsoft and whether that would be the end of their multiplatform game making days,
“I’ve been doing this a long time, so the only thing I know about the platforms that we’ll ship on is that nothing is certain. Microsoft as our parent and publisher on products going forward, will make the decision on what platforms we support and when we support them. People speculate that means PC and XBX only, but I remember a pre-Microsoft console era, I can get Outlook and Teams on my iPhone today, and I know the future of games, higher-speed connectivity, and the push for streaming, will bring changes we cannot even imagine today.” – Eric DeMilt
Thus, we await and expect great things from the developer for the Series X as the company is capable of developing some of the most fascinating open world RPG experiences around.