Nintendo's Gamescom line-up confirms once again that Switch is a superb handheld games machine with a growing range of impressive titles. During the show, Digital Foundry got the chance to go hands-on with both the Diablo 3 Eternal Collection and Dark Souls Remastered running in handheld mode - and there's off-screen footage on this page showing how well these games are shaping up.
Initially, we made a beeline for Dark Souls Remastered, principally because so little of the project has been revealed to date. In fact, in terms of assets, we've had a few snatches of direct feed capture several months back and little more. The game is present and playable at Gamescom, but it remains something of a mystery - Nintendo limited access to the title by restricting visitors to the very first tutorial level, cutting demos short after vanquishing the Asylum Demon boss.
With that in mind, our impressions are obviously limited. The presentation when playing in handheld mode is certainly crisp, and in line with the publisher's website, which states that users should expect a native 720p pixel-count for mobile play, rising to 1080p when docked. It's also confirmed that Dark Souls Remastered opts for the original release's 30fps, as opposed to the double frame-rate seen in the other remastered editions. We noted a touch of slowdown during alpha-heavy scenes in the boss battle, but overall, while the sample of gameplay we had was limited to say the least, Dark Souls Remastered is looking good.
We also had the chance to take a look at Diablo 3 running in Switch's handheld mode and the great news is that Blizzard has managed to retain the silky smooth 60 frames per second gameplay of the current-generation versions, showing what looks like a clear improvement over the dropped frames and tearing seen on the last-gen Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 editions of the game.
We put the title through its paces by choosing a couple of high-level wizards in a multiplayer game, stress-testing the GPU with a range of pyrotechnic spells and meteor-like attacks and as the footage demonstrates, frame-rate holds up well. Without access to direct feed screenshots or video capture, how Blizzard achieves this can't be fully confirmed, but some degree of pixelisation in heavy scenes may point to the developer bringing across the dynamic resolution scaling we've seen on recent releases of the game.
Based on Aoife's Eurogamer report based on the same build of the game we played, Diablo 3 runs at the Switch display's native 720p when playing in mobile mode, rising to 900p when docked. The developer mentions that elements of the post-process pipeline are scaled back in portable mode, but based on the performance level we saw and the GPU loads we pushed through the Gamescom build, frame-rates appear to hold up nicely regardless.
Again, just like Dark Souls Remastered, Diablo 3 looks to be shaping up nicely. It's swiftly becoming a cliché that seeing games of this calibre running on a handheld is a unique and compelling proposition, but this really is what sets Switch apart - and based on this limited sample of content, we're really looking forward to checking out both titles in more depth when review code is available.
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