Today’s surprise launch of a Switch version of the popular free-to-play, first-person military shooter Warface marks an important milestone for the system’s growing list of ports: the first Switch game to make use of Crytek’s CryEngine. Like many other high-end Switch ports, though, squeezing the game down to run on the Switch’s Nvidia Tegra-based hardware comes with some significant drawbacks.

As publisher My.Games notes in a press release, getting Warface on the Switch meant “using a heavily customized version of CryEngine… running locked in 30fps/720p in TV mode and 540p in handheld and tabletop modes, providing an optimal balance of image clarity and performance.”

Those are relatively low resolution numbers even for the Switch, where a wide variety of games manage to hit 1080p or 900p resolution when docked and 720p when in portable mode. There have been some notable exceptions, though, including Switch ports like Doom and The Witcher 3, where portable mode has to drop noticeably below HD resolution in order to ensure a playable game. You can see how that resolution downgrade looks for yourself in the above screenshots and below trailer for the Switch version of the game.

Feeling the CrySqueeze

As CryEngine-based games go, Warface isn’t exactly the most recent release that could be used as a Switch proof-of-concept, either. The game originally launched on the PC back in 2012 as a free-to-play demonstration of the now-defunct CryEngine 3. Even back then, Digital Foundry noted that the title was “an intriguing curiosity: a state-of-the-art engine deliberately run at less than optimal settings in order to accommodate a broad church of PC owners, missing many of the key features we find in the latest AAA console shooters, yet still looking rather decent overall.”

The game and its underlying code have seen constant refinements in the interim, though, to the point where the Xbox One X and PS4 versions now support 4K resolutions and HDR color spaces. The success of those ports has helped Warface reach a reported 80 million registered players worldwide, with roughly 2,000 of those likely playing simultaneously on the Steam version at any given time.

Warface‘s Switch trailer. Be sure to watch at 720p to get the full “docked” experience.

My.Games Head of Global Publishing Alexey Izotov expanded on the compromises necessary to convert the existing 4K versions of the game into a Switch build in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz:

When talking PvP content, we rely on the following principles: stable framerate, debugged network code, and fixed resolution. The game’s look and feel shouldn’t change depending on the amount of action on the screen. We believe we have managed to achieve this. Of course, we used some heavy optimization, but we always tried to make sure that this affected the final image quality at a minimal level.

Resolution compromises aside, getting a CryEngine game running on the Switch is still a major porting achievement by My.Games in-house Allods team. It also speaks well of the potential for even more visually downgraded Switch ports to come, even as upcoming consoles threaten to increase the power gap between Nintendo’s hybrid and the state of the art in TV-based game platforms.