It began with Doom 2016 – a Switch port so ambitious, it simply didn’t seem possible. However, since then, a procession of technologically ambitious current-gen console titles have migrated onto the Nintendo console hybrid, culminating in the arrival of the wonderful Metro Redux from 4A Games – highly impressive conversions and perhaps the closest, most authentic first-person shooter ports we’ve seen. So what’s the secret? How do developers manage to achieve such impressive results from five-year-old Nvidia mobile hardware?
“At first, I did have really big concerns performance-wise,” admits 4A’s chief technical officer, Oles Shishkovstov. “You know, going from base PS4/Xbox One with approximately six and a half or seven CPU cores running at 1.6 GHz to 1.75GHz down to only three cores at 1.0GHz sounds scary. The GPU was fine, as graphics can be scaled up and down much easier than, for example, game simulation code.”
The results of the conversion work are certainly impressive bearing in mind the yawning gap in CPU specs. 4A started out by translating over the existing Metro Redux games from PS4 and Xbox One (and to stress the point, Switch doesn’t get last-gen ports here), a process the 4A team carried out very quickly, but this early version of the game could only manage frame-rates of around seven to 15 frames per second. The games were entirely CPU-bound.