When it comes to third-party games typically, I prefer playing them on a console other than the Nintendo Switch. Sure, the option to play it portably is nice but usually that pro comes at the cost of downgraded visuals and worse performance. Every so often though a port comes around that surprises me with just how well it performs on the Switch and that is exactly my experience with THQ Nordic and Bugbear Entertainment’s demolition derby game Wreckfest. The game launched some time ago on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC but has just now come to the Switch and it’s one of the best ports I’ve played on the system yet.
If for some reason you’ve missed out on Wreckfest over the past few years the basic idea is that you play through both race events and demolition derby arena events with a variety of completely destructible vehicles. From the main menu you can jump into the Career mode, online multiplayer modes, online tournaments, set up custom races, and manage your cars in the Garage. Career mode is made up of five different championships with those being Regional Juniors, National Amateurs, Challengers, Pro Internationals, and World Masters. As you’re completing events, you’ll earn points that then unlock the next set of events. Some events are just about destroying the other vehicles in the arena while others are more straight up races. There are several dozen different tracks and arenas so the game has a lot of variety in where you’ll be dishing out the metal carnage.
What I really like the most about Wreckfest is just how different it is from most other car games this generation. No other game lets me compete against 16 opposing vehicles with the goal being to wreck them all. Plus, you get to drive school buses, lawnmowers, sofa’s with wheels on them and other crazy vehicles you wouldn’t expect to be in control of. There is also two additional DLC packs with even more wacky vehicles available but they don’t come with the Switch version so you’ll have to pay more to get them. The game is challenging too with sometimes being a little too much I feel. The AI here is very good and one moment you might find yourself doing really well only for one of them to deliver a blow to you and ruin the entire event for you. Of course, when it’s you doing it to them you end up feeling pretty good about yourself.
Outside of the Career mode you can jump into some online modes against other players or bots which will fill up any empty spots. Additional items can be unlocked if you take part in the Online Tournaments. So, with the gameplay out of the way you’re probably wondering how exactly this game performs on the Switch? The answer is pretty darn good. The framerate in this version is set to 30FPS and while it isn’t locked it stays pretty consistent at it which is impressive. Part of that reason is because the visuals have been dialed back a bit but not too badly. It takes a bit more of a hit in portable mode but while things like textures are reduced the game keeps a lot of the destructible stuff intact and that is what is so impressive about it. This is a very physics heavy game and to see the Switch run Wreckfest this well shows that the team over at Bugbear really took their time to get it right. One of my complaints of the PS4 version was that the load times were a bit long but here they seemed to be faster than I remember. They aren’t as good as the PS5 and Xbox Series versions but I was surprised they were better than the PS4.
Wreckfest took its time getting onto the Nintendo Switch but that wait led to one of the best third-party ports I’ve seen on the platform yet. This is a very demanding game performance wise and the Switch version delivers on that front for the most part. It does have some brief moments of slowdown and the visuals take a little bit of a hit but being able to smash up a ton of vehicles on the go is heaps of fun despite those few drawbacks.
*Wreckfest is available now on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Nintendo Switch version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
- Excellent damage and physics system
- Good variety of modes and events to play through
- Lots of ways to customize and tune your vehicles
- Switch version performs very well
- No local multiplayer support
- Brief moments of slowdown
- Visuals take a little bit of a hit compared to other versions
- Doesn't come with any of the DLC