Video Games

No Man’s Sky – Switch Performance Review

Creating an entire universe of stars and planets is no small feat, but Hello Games did it with their 2016 game No Man’s Sky. But while it was a monumental challenge, putting the same universe into the Nintendo Switch’s relatively small memory and hardware budget is nothing short of galactic.

cosmic condensation

The Switch continues Nintendo’s trend of finding success in its own market, enjoying its wealth with the highest number of third-party games of any console. Many of these ports have been an uphill battle given the Switch’s limited processing power, but No Man’s Sky is a little more of an obstacle. Despite these reservations, we were given a full Monty in either mobile or docked mode. Waypoint v4.0 update patch – Match Switch version with all other formats including PC.

That is, except for two important areas, both of which are related to performance. Multiplayer is probably the biggest omission, but since the game is primarily played solo, it’s not the worst to miss. Again, due to the same technical/performance constraints. So from a content perspective, the team at Hello Games miraculously squeezed everything into this tiny form factor, but didn’t skimp on it. However, as you can imagine, this comes with some specific changes and reductions.

  • The world density has been reduced compared to the PS4 version we are using as a baseline.
  • Reduced grass, flora and fauna, object polycount, texture variety, and resolution detail.
  • Alpha effects such as grass and trees, their resolution and amount, and particle effects are all lower level than PS4. This isn’t unexpected and depends on which planet you happen to be on, but procedural engines likely have a range of draws and polycounts to work with, and Switch will reduce this.
  • LoD is one of the most prominent. The game has object pop-ins even on high-end PCs with a procedural creation engine, which is the same as all other versions, causing some of it. However, in Switch, close-to-medium ranges can often be chaotic and devoid of detail, with many planets relying solely on their surface albedo layers for their identity. The pop-in is worse if the billboard sprite is used very close to the camera and the alpha-tested grass range is much shorter.
  • Like many post effects, the PS4 has reduced lighting effects, completely removed the nice per-object motion blur, used cheap sprite-based bokeh depth of field, and cut back material layers and decals. will be
  • Other reductions occur when CPU and RAM hit their breaking point. At a very high level, the Switch has 50% fewer RAM and CPU cores than the PS4. Reduced CPU animations will update at half the rate unless the character is within a few feet. Sound quality is good, but the number of samples and processing is low, and various object sounds seem to be reduced to a small subset.
  • All volumetrics and alpha are output at less than half the resolution of the screen’s native buffer.

It must be stressed that despite all these realms, and perhaps even more, the game never loses its wonder and charm. Weather storms fill the screen, leaving a fully dynamic hour of day and night cycles, animals roaming, all procedurally generated and animated. no matter how many you find.

Ultimately, the biggest visual marker of playing on Switch is when you’re playing on the big screen. The game has a resolution of about 1120×630 when docked, no AA, but seems to have a sharpening pass applied to clean this up when stationary. DRS may be in use, but it seems to be a fixed resolution. The result is good, but muddy and noisy depending on the composition of the scene. Excluding AA from the post suite is often the choice of many Switch games. Because leaving this out allows you to sacrifice the shimmer to regain important milliseconds for higher resolution and/or effects. It looks great on smaller 1080p screens, and depending on the amount of sub-pixel elements such as grass on the screen, the results can be nice to noisy.

the whole world in your hands

Surprisingly, handheld mode yielded less reduction than expected. Resolution cuts are the most significant and can affect many aspects within a render. Shadow maps are similar in quality, but fakes can be used closer in place of real geometry. Additionally, her LoD level is reduced in all depth tests. This means the object has a lower and closer polygon count than when docked, as well as texture maps and details. Much of the perceived LoD drop as image shrinking was due to resolution, which dropped another 36% to around 896×504 output.

In other words, docked mode runs at 56% higher resolution than handheld mode. However, when you’re on the move, the reduction is much less noticeable, so handheld mode is my preferred way to play this incredible adventure. To humans, it still feels grand enough and unique.

It was after that update that the Switch port was more likely, so the Steam Deck version is much appreciated. but in the end it worked without any changes.

performance test

Performance is another area that can be an issue, holding good delivery of its 30 fps target for most sections played and tested. memory related) can cause points at 16, 33 and 50ms, but often the frame time is a perfect 33ms, but dips are possible. Mining tools have a particular impact on performance in all versions. Here, the Switch version slightly outperforms the teens. With the endless supply of planets, we can’t rule out the possibility that some of them will drop below these levels, as can happen on PS4, but with significantly more power and visual load. That version allows you to cap the frame rate in menus almost to 60 fps, which may be CPU limited. A marathon of 4 Arm cores on a Nintendo handheld, considering that this game requires 7 cores on his PS4 Jaguar CPU. For the most part, the PS4 runs comfortably at 30 fps, but this is where you can cap like the Switch version, and the performance feels more consistent than the uncapped PS4 version. I still respect the choices offered, but the Switch is good for the upper end.

Loading is one area of ​​improvement over the PS4, about 22% faster at 1:10 versus 1:29. Once you load back into your save, you can enjoy the same seamless exploration and experience from planet to planet and solar system to solar system.


The scale of this game and engine is as incredible as ever, but it scales across hardware as well. The scale of the planet is the same as the larger machine, but the planet loses some of the hustle and bustle that results from a significant reduction in proximity density. Blurred, creatures and formations consist of lower triangle counts. But all of this is quickly forgotten, as the Switch provides the essence at the heart of the team’s purpose. The intellectual sacrifice the team made offers an impressive version that lives up to eight-year-old mobile technology, yet still looks space-age to me.

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