I am a little surprised at how bad the performance of XC:DE is on Switch

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bigsocrates

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I've been playing Xenoblade: Definitive Edition and while I'm definitely enjoying the game, I'm pretty surprised at its performance on the Switch. For the record I have only been playing it docked. This was originally a Wii game released 10 years ago, and they've polished up the character models and uprezzed the whole thing, but it's still full of low-res textures and low-poly environments so it shouldn't be too taxing on the Switch hardware, which can run some pretty nice looking games. I knew about the resolution issue going in and it didn't bother me, but I've also noticed a huge amount of environmental pop in (not big things like walls or mountains but tons of small details like grass or whatever) and even more frustrating, a lot of screen tearing. This can happen even outside of combat, which at least is pretty hectic with a ton of effects. I think I've seen some frame rate drops too, though it can be a bit hard to tell given how busy the screen gets during combat.

I imagine this is a combination of a not great port with not great optimization and the game not being designed to play to the Switch's strengths, but it's a little disappointing that the Switch isn't running this thing buttery smooth. I know the 3DS version was compromised but this WAS a game that could run on the New 3DS, which is not exactly a powerhouse system.

The issues aren't enough to keep me from enjoying the game, but I have a pretty high tolerance for this sort of thing and it's still been distracting.

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lethalki11ler

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What about the framerate?

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bigsocrates

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@lethalki11ler: As I said I think I've noted a few drops but it seems steady 99% of the time. It's totally playable (and this isn't an action game so it's not like frame drops matter all that much for playability) but I don't think I'd call it rock solid. I'm not super frame rate sensitive but I think even for someone who was this would be fine, if you're not some fanatic who demands a constant frame rate at all times.

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Efesell

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I guess I played too much of the Wii version looking the way it did but I honestly can’t say I’ve it’s been all that noticeable.

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someoneproud

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Hmmm. I've definitely noticed pop-in on the grass but that really doesn't bother me. Haven't noticed any frame dips or screen tearing at all though myself and the textures look leaps and bounds better than they ever did before so I'm all good.

It was never gonna be a graphical powerhouse but it looks good and it's without doubt the best version of the game. Performance has been 100% fine on my end and this is the first I've heard of frame drops or screen tearing, maybe it's something on your end?

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bigsocrates

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@someoneproud: There's no "on my end" when it comes to console games.

Digital Foundry notes that there are frame dips:

Loading Video...

They don't mention the tearing so it's possible that what looked like tearing to me was in fact a badly done dynamic resolution switch.

The fact that a Switch game (which is being sold for full price as a definitive edition remaster) looks better than a Wii or 3DS version is not really notable. The Switch is on an entirely different level than those systems. The Wii had 88 MBs of RAM, the 3DS had 128. The Switch has 4 gigabytes.

I wasn't expecting the game to look like the Resident Evil Remakes, but the Switch runs Bayonetta fine so it should have been able to run this without dropping resolution as hard as it does (according to Digital Foundry in handheld mode it sometimes drops below the Wii's standard definition resolution) or dropping any frames at all (the frame rate drops are not that big a deal in comparison to the other stuff.) It's not game ruining by any means, but this is a cleaned up Wii game and I'm just surprised it can't even manage a clean 720 30 FPS in docked mode.

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someoneproud

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@bigsocrates: Fair enough, there are frame drops but they do seem to be extremely minimal. I never noticed them personally but I don't tend to notice anything but the most massive frame drops.

Not saying it's likely but it 100% could be on your end, hardware failure/growing inefficiency happens and if you were experiencing issues that nobody else seemed to, some issue on your end would be the only sensible conclusion. It does sound like maybe the screen tearing wasn't a unique issue but the dynamic resolution after all.

It does seem like they should have been able to do better on the technical end and I just didn't notice. Game looks and runs great so far as I see it, guess I'm glad I don't notice this stuff.

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Toxe

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I am playing it docked only and I think it's fine. Haven't had any issues so far.

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Justin258

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@bigsocrates: I would like to note that Bayonetta is a linear game loaded with small battlefields. Xenoblade Chronicles has massive areas full of creatures and foliage and a large draw distance. Bumping up the resolution and such is more taxing than you might think, even considering this game's original console. It's never as simple as "Bayonetta and Doom look amazing and game x doesn't, bad port!"

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doctordonkey

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20 hours in so far, only noticed a few dips down to 24ish fps when combat gets hectic, explorations, cutscenes and everything else is a rock solid 30. I'm actually pretty impressed how good this thing looks on my 49' x900f, the vistas in Gaur Plain look fantastic, huge step up from the Wii.

I played the OG 9 years ago on a hacked Wii, the PAL version ran at a locked 25 fps and regularly dipped below 15 during intense combat. I think that is a big part of why I'm very satisfied by the end product here.

The biggest things for me personally are the transmog system (huge, because your party ended up looking like a circus of clowns during cutscenes in the OG), the massively improved side quest mechanics (things are actually marked on the map, items are marked, you don't need to pull up a guide every 5 seconds if you wanted to actually complete them), the UI being cleaned up and not terrible anymore, and expert mode.

Expert mode goes hand in hand with the improved side quest system, because you can do as many as you want and not have to worry about trivializing all the main game content via overleveling. Whenever I fight unique monsters or chapters of the main story, I always dial my level back to whatever they are, and it's fantastic for keeping the challenge and not just bulldozing over everything.

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trh5001

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I have played about 20 hrs on the switch as well and even in hand held haven't really had any noticeable complaints about how the game looks or runs. I'm having fun playing it for an hour here or there but am finding it hard to put in more time than that to it in any particular session.

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someoneproud

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#13  Edited By someoneproud
@doctordonkey said:

The biggest things for me personally are the transmog system (huge, because your party ended up looking like a circus of clowns during cutscenes in the OG), the massively improved side quest mechanics (things are actually marked on the map, items are marked, you don't need to pull up a guide every 5 seconds if you wanted to actually complete them)

These 2 changes especially have really made a huge difference to the enjoyment of my playthrough. I could be wrong but it seems like they've added a number of armour types to the game also, which I wasn't really expecting from the DE but is a very nice touch.

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bigsocrates

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People are now getting into the features added to the game and such and its overall quality and that's not my point at all. I'm not saying this is a bad game, and in fact as I said I really enjoy it. I'm not even saying this is a bad version of this game, because it's obviously the best version that exists. But it is a Wii game that has been moderately touched up (some textures improved, a few models changed, but most of the rest of the stuff intact) and the Wii is ancient tech. The Xbox One X can emulate Xbox 360 games and upscale them to 4K with improved performance, and the performance difference between the XB1X and the 360 is less than that between the Wii and the Switch (just taking RAM as an example, the XB1X has about 24 times as much RAM as the 360, while the Switch has nearly 500 times as much RAM as the Wii. In terms of FLOPS, the XB1X has about 25 times as much as the 360, while the Switch has about 83 times as many as the Wii.

Yes the Switch and Wii architecture are much more different than the 360 vs XB1 architecture, but this is not an emulation it's a port to the XBC2 engine, using the original assets, which, again, are mostly low poly (and not all the textures have been replaced, while as far as I can tell other system intensive aspects like animation and AI routines haven't really been changed at all.) If this were an emulation I would understand the difference more.

The game looks pretty good all things considered, though environmental polygon detail is very low compared to other Switch games. Compare Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (which is a very fair comparison for obvious reasons) and you'll see a lot more objects in the environment, with much higher polygon counts. It is carried by some spectacular art design that holds up very well (especially with the touch ups they did to textures and certain objects) but hills are just simple angled polygons and there are lots of environments that are just wide open areas with flat ground and no objects because that's what the Wii could handle.

It's not like the game is a technical mess or anywhere near unplayable, I was just surprised that it had any performance struggles at all, let alone enough that in some areas I consistently notice them. That doesn't say anything about the other aspects of the game, like added minimap features or whatever, or the quality of the game as a game (which is very high.)

I'm not looking to bash the game or the studio. I like the game a lot, and the studio put in a ton of work in places that matter much more than these small technical issues (including adding a 10 hour epilogue and all kinds of quality of life tweaks, in addition to the texture upgrades.) It's a really good remaster taken as a whole. It's way better than if this were a technically perfect version without the upgrades. I'd rather have a functional side quest system than a perfect frame rate.

I was just surprised that the technical performance wasn't quite as good as the rest of the package.

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someoneproud

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Yes.

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Justin258

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just taking RAM as an example, the XB1X has about 24 times as much RAM as the 360, while the Switch has nearly 500 times as much RAM as the Wii.

Maybe double check that second number. Also having a large amount of RAM doesn't necessarily mean all that much.

using the original assets, which, again, are mostly low poly (and not all the textures have been replaced, while as far as I can tell other system intensive aspects like animation and AI routines haven't really been changed at all.)

My understanding was that this version of the game replaced the vast majority of the assets. More importantly, and what I tried to point out above, is that these higher-detailed textures are being rendered at a higher resolution.

I was just surprised that the technical performance wasn't quite as good as the rest of the package.

Simple raw power helps a lot when trying to make a game perform better, but clearly Xenoblade Chronicles is a more complex beast than you previously thought and we don't really know exactly why this game runs at 30FPS.

Or seemingly lower, in your case. Digital Foundry as well as most people playing this have reported a pretty stable framerate. Not a perfect one, but it seems like it keeps 30FPS almost all the time. Perhaps this is a greater issue in the last half of the game? This is part of why I was confused at your title, by the way. "Performance" generally means "how well does it run" - framerate, frame pacing, stuttering, that sort of thing. The issue I've seen most often cited with this port is how soft everything can look.

As a final note, I haven't played the game but I've seen footage of it played on Youtube. As someone who spends his days playing PC games with a pretty good rig on a really good monitor - this game looks great to me.

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bigsocrates

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@justin258: RAM is where textures and objects are loaded and does effect frame rate. It's not definitive on its own but neither are FLOPS. There's no one to one comparison. My point is just that while you're right the Switch only has 50 times the RAM of the Wii, it's still a technical monster compared to the earlier system.

The game definitely did not replace most of the assets. Some assets were replaced, others had their textures replaced, but the game is absolutely full of stuff that looks like this (images are slightly cropped to remove spoiler):

The texture on the grating does not look redone to me, just uprezzed.  Also note that the grating is just a flat mesh of polygons with no additional detail.  Basically every hill or ramp in the game looks like this, which is clearly the Wii architecture.
The texture on the grating does not look redone to me, just uprezzed. Also note that the grating is just a flat mesh of polygons with no additional detail. Basically every hill or ramp in the game looks like this, which is clearly the Wii architecture.

And this

Note that this is not a round object, it's got the tell tale hard angles of a
Note that this is not a round object, it's got the tell tale hard angles of a "round" object from an old system.

And I didn't cherry pick these areas. They're just from where I happen to be in the game when writing this post. I'm not saying it's an ugly game, I don't think it is. It has incredible art style, some of the new textures are very solid, and it's super colorful. But does it look as good as it sequel, built for the Switch from the ground up? Not at all.

Look how much more complicated this environment is and how many objects are in it.  The rug texture isn't super high res, but the wood is way better than the metal grating, and there are lots of rounded objects.  It's not TLOU2 quality, but it's a game by the same studio running in the same engine.
Look how much more complicated this environment is and how many objects are in it. The rug texture isn't super high res, but the wood is way better than the metal grating, and there are lots of rounded objects. It's not TLOU2 quality, but it's a game by the same studio running in the same engine.

In terms of performance, I never said it had a bad frame rate. I said it drops frames here and there, which is what Digital Foundry said too. The real issue I had was what looked like screen tearing to me but is actually probably resolution switching. It's not a matter of a soft image, it's that the resolution losses look like screen tearing issues, which fall under the area of performance along with frame rate. If something is constantly dropping resolution that's a performance issue. It happens in certain areas in the game or when combat is super hectic.

Again I'm not out to bash the game or even the remaster package as a whole. They did a lot of work on this thing and it shows. I'm not angry and demanding my money back. It's a solid package overall, and they never said they were remaking all the assets or replacing all the textures. It's clear that they've done more than they even promised. I'm just remarking that the game is running in the XBC2 engine, which can handle much more complicated and high res assets, and it still struggles to keep up at time and that surprised me. I don't know if they ran out of time to optimize and intend to patch it later or if the old assets somehow don't play well with the new engine or what's going on, and it hasn't ruined my enjoyment of the game at all, I just noticed it and posted about it because it surprised me.

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Efesell

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While I continue to have no real problem with performance necessarily one thing I am bummed that they didn't address at all was how dreadful the audio mixing is in cutscenes. The music perpetually drowns everything else out, and while there are a number of sound settings the only one that affects the volume of events raises both BGM and Voice volume which just means its a louder mess than ever before.

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I have no experience with anything Xenoblade outside Chronicles X on the Wii U, which I loved, but picked this up due to lots of spare time and I'm enjoying it. I can't say I've experienced any performance issues, sound quality seems totally fine, and it's all around enjoyable. Playing 100% docked, so unsure if it works poorly handheld, but so far I'm very happy with the game, it's quite interesting.

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After Breath of the Wild, Pokemon S&S, Link's Awakening, et al, poor performance from a big Nintendo release on the Switch is anything but surprising.