So, Civilization VI arrived for Switch this morning and, because I want to make sure everyone at Firaxis can send their kids to college, I bought it. Again. This is the third, maybe fourth, time I’ve bought Civ VI now, each time at $60, not to mention all the DLC I’ve also chipped in for on each and every platform. Civ VI for Switch is fine but the entire time I was playing, I was wondering why I wasn’t just playing it on my iPad. The iPad screen is bigger and the touch controls are just so much more intuitive. They did a great job of reworking the UI for the Switch, but when I want to open something and it’s tied to a button on the Switch, I invariably have to search for exactly what key is where. My fingers don’t know where the Y key is versus the X key, for example, and I find myself opening and closing menus or selecting this when I wanted to select that, that my 15 minutes with Civ VI felt like a chore.
That brings me to Diablo 3 which launched last week for Switch and, I assumed, would be a perfect fit for the handheld. Oh, boy.
Here’s the thing: having a huge AAA games like Diablo 3 on a device that I can play on the bus or a plane is incredible. Seriously, the 11 year-old me who thought Pac Man on the Atari 2600 was the bee’s knees and dreamed of having a video game with graphics that got anywhere as good as Donkey Kong in my living room would simply die if they’d been able to see into the future. This is the full-on Diablo 3 experience with the same gorgeous graphics (albeit a lot smaller) as its PC cousin and it fits in your backpack. It’s kind of a miracle, actually.
I was excited to start a new character and get some Season play in, so I created a Necromancer and went to town in Adventure mode. Starting in Tristram, I teleported to Leoric’s Mansion and went to town looking for Big Bad Guy So-and-So. Now, I’ve played a lot of D3 on my Mac and even dabbled in the Xbox version with my kids. I don’t suck at Diablo 3 and, in fact, am used to starting a Season character and maxing them out without dying more than a handful of times. On the Switch, however, I managed to die 6 times before I could snag my first bounty. To quote Austin Powers (and I swear to whatever deity makes you happy that it’s the last time you’ll ever read those words on Stately Play), I’d lost my mojo, baby.
I nearly threw my Switch against the wall. WTF is happening? To be fair, I hadn’t played a lot of Necro, so I decided to start a new character, my old standy, the Monk. Again, I was destroyed time and time again while collecting only 2 bounties before rage-quitting and pouting on the couch.
Thus, I have to say that I hate Diablo 3 on the Switch. Like any good breakup, however, it’s my job to say “it’s not you, it’s me” and, in this case, I don’t think I’m lying. I’m old and my fat fingers do not know what the hell ZR is or why it’s different than R. My brain knows the answer, but to get my fingers to do this at the speed of Diablo 3 is proving to be impossible and, having to look at the controls all the time isn’t great. It’s like trying to type 80 words a minute in typing class (yeah, that was a thing I did in high school. On an electric typewriter.) with Mrs. Powers standing right behind you. Sure, you can look down at your fingers, but you’re just begging for pain.
Now, I’ve kind of fallen in love with my Switch over the past year, but I’m starting to think that it’s not really for me. Sure I can play Civ or Cities: Skylines, but all I can think about while playing them is how much I’d rather be playing them on another platform. There are some great twitchy games that I really like, but they’re the ones that keep the controls simple. Dead Cells, for example, didn’t twist me up too bad. Neither did Unexplored. Zelda: Breath of the Wild is up there with Diablo, however, with making my fingers feel like they’ve been dipped in Novocaine and that was the one game I bought the Switch for in the first place.
Of course, when board games finally make it to Switch my opinion may change. Of course, I can play all of those on my phone or iPad. What would a Switch version bring me that I don’t already have?
What’s the point of this entire post? No idea. After not being able to write all week, I just wanted to do something. My frustration with Civ VI, one of my favorite games ever, just got me wondering about the Switch and if it was more of a shiny toy or something that I really needed as a gaming device. I’m leaning toward the former, but I’m sure that will only last until the next big Switch announcement rolls around, and that next big announcement better be XCOM2, dammit. Or Factorio. Oh, wow, playing Factorio on the toilet might just be my version of Nirvana.