Apex Legends Is Good on Switch, but I Wish It Was Better

Not quite the apex experience

Key Takeaways

  • Apex Legends is finally available on the Nintendo Switch.
  • While the graphics aren’t as crisp compared to other consoles, it still plays well and looks good.
  • The biggest hit the Switch version takes is a 30 FPS lock, which can make crossplay with other consoles a bit troublesome as it puts you at a disadvantage.
Apex Legends character walking through explosions
Nintendo / Respawn Entertainment

I crouch, sliding down the hill in front of me. Gunfire echoes in the buildings to my right and I can hear someone running to my left. I’m all that’s left of my squad. All I have is a pistol and the gunfire is getting closer. More footsteps to my left. I spin around as quickly as I can using the joystick on my Switch controller. But I’m too slow; the enemy is already lining up their shot.

It’s these nail-biting moments that make battle royale games like Apex Legends so enthralling, and the fast-paced action of Respawn Entertainment’s free-to-play battle royale is one that many have enjoyed since its release in 2019, myself included. Now that the game has come to the Nintendo Switch, even more would-be "legends" are dropping into Kings Canyon to prove their merit.

"Apex Legends is a welcome addition to the Switch’s library."

Apex blends the action of battle royales with the class roles of a hero shooter—think Overwatch meets Fortnite or PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (aka PUBG). There are an assortment of characters to unlock, all of which include their own skills and abilities, and you’ll find a nice array of weapons available around the three maps the game has to offer. It’s a fun battle royale that doesn’t take too much to get into, and it feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch.

There are a few caveats, though.

Switching Out

Like many other first-person shooters, Apex Legends benefits greatly when the game is running smoothly. The PC version of the game can easily get a solid 60 frames-per-second (FPS). The PS4 and Xbox One versions—released at the same time as PC—also run the game at a locked 60 FPS, ensuring a smooth and consistent experience throughout matches.

On the Nintendo Switch, Apex Legends had to make a few sacrifices to make the jump to the portable hybrid console. Instead of running at 1080P when docked, the game runs at 720P. This resolution drops even further when playing in handheld mode, with the resolution maxing out at 576P. The FPS also is locked at 30 FPS in both modes to help ensure smoother gameplay experiences.

These changes are extremely noticeable on the Switch version of Apex. Immediately upon loading into a game, I noticed the textures appeared to be a bit muddier, and much softer than the sharp textures I’d become accustomed to seeing on my PC. It wasn’t terrible, and once I got into the match and started moving around it didn’t really matter much, as my attention was focused on finding equipment and taking down enemies.

Barely Missing the Mark

Lowered visual fidelity isn’t a deal-breaker, though. Plenty of other games, like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild have lower visual quality on the Switch. The problem is the 30 FPS lock.

Combat that should feel quick and fluid often comes off as sluggish. That’s not to say the Switch does a bad job running the game; despite performance dips here and there, it’s mostly stable. It’s the fact it's all locked at 30 FPS that makes everything feel slower.

"Immediately upon loading into a game, I noticed the textures appeared to be a bit muddier."

Apex also features crossplay, which allows Switch players to jump into games with others on PlayStation, Xbox, and even PC. This is a nice addition to have, but the problem—once again—is its FPS. Because you’re locked to 30 FPS on the Switch, you’re going to have a hard time competing with non-Switch players. Other consoles are locked to 60 FPS, meaning those players will have faster response times and smoother gameplay, as the game can render at twice the speed the Switch does.

Don’t let the above discourage you, though, as Apex Legends is a welcome addition to the Switch’s library. But, if you’re going to use the Switch as your main console when playing, I highly recommend turning off crossplay and just enjoying it with other Switch players. It will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

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