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In early April, the Tournaments Update for Rocket League was rolled out across all platforms. While this update brought a lot of new features and general improvements for the entire game, there were some major Switch-specific changes. Namely, the addition of the new ‘Performance’ and ‘Quality’ options in the video settings. These new graphical options give Switch players two distinct choices: fancy graphics or framerates. The question is, which one is truly the most important?
I first picked up Rocket League via Steam back in 2016. Even though I’ve sunk dozens of hours into the game on PC, that didn’t stop me from getting it yet again on Switch. The Switch version, even with the new Quality mode, is definitely visually simpler than the PC version (my system can run the game at max settings). But even so, I’ve been happy enough with the fact that the gameplay experience is the same. That’s really the main point I want to touch on in this article: whether or not Rocket League is still enjoyable at 30FPS. But, before we get into that, let’s talk about the visual upgrades of this update.
The new Performance and Quality modes on the Switch version can be changed even while in-game, so it was easy to compare the two experiences. Quality mode renders the game at 1080p in docked mode and 720p in handheld mode. Performance mode drops the docked resolution to 900p when docked, but this is definitely better than the 720p that was present prior to the update. Other graphical effects were added like light shafts, lens flares and dynamic shadows. When playing in Quality mode while docked, all of these changes are very noticeable, with the most noticeable visual changes being the resolution and the depth of field effect. Background details look rough with the Performance settings enabled, but the Quality settings smooth things out rather nicely. Handheld mode also looks better than ever of course. The Quality settings keep the resolution locked to 720p when playing this way, and the Switch’s crisp display keeps the game looking good. Shadows are also present; they were missing when playing in handheld mode prior to the update.
Indeed, the new Quality settings have clearly brought quite a number of decent visual changes to the game. Even so, it still pales in comparison to the other versions. I haven’t played the PS4/Xbox One versions, but I was able to compare the PC and Switch versions side-by-side. Even though the Quality settings of the Switch look better than before, the max settings of the PC version still blow it out of the water. The level of detail is still relatively low on Switch, with noticeable eye candy that’s present on PC still missing on Switch.
The new Quality settings make the Switch version look better than before, but it still pales in comparison to the other versions.
After comparing the Switch and PC versions, I decided to pay attention to the Switch version exclusively. Flipping back and forth between the Performance and Quality settings, I noticed the aforementioned visual upgrades, but I also noticed that the overall looked isn’t dramatically different. Simply put, don’t jump in expecting some massive visual overhaul. The Quality settings do look good, but if you’re looking for Rocket League at its most gorgeous, it would be better to play it on another platform.
This isn’t really a complaint, mind you. The Switch is still essentially a tablet-like device, so it would be rather absurd to expect it to match the capabilities of the other machines. I’m still impressed that Rocket League is running on the system at all. Having said that, now would be a good time to get into the next part of this discussion: 30FPS vs 60FPS.
The difference is certainly noticeable. Up until this point, I’ve never played Rocket League at less than 60FPS, so it took a little getting used to. But, rather surprisingly, the difference wasn’t nearly as jarring as I expected it to be. At first, playing in 30FPS almost felt like slow-motion. In a way that makes sense, considering that 30FPS is exactly half of a full 60. Even so, it only took a few minutes for my eyes to get adjusted. I flipped back and forth between the two settings a few times just to see if it would affect my gameplay style, and it really didn’t; I won several matches across both settings. This part really shocked me the most, since it was what I most concerned about back when this update was first announced.
Here’s the big question: is Rocket League still fun even at 30 frames?
Yes, yes it is.
With Rocket League being such a fast-paced game, I couldn’t really imagine it being enjoyable at anything less than a smooth 60 frames. Thankfully, it looks like I was proven wrong. The game is still super fun regardless of what framerate it’s being played at. Really, what this has shown me is that stability is actually the most important thing. The Quality settings offer a locked framerate of 30, I didn’t notice any real dips. Had the framerate been unstable, then that definitely would’ve put a damper on the experience. But, there’s still the main question: is Quality mode really worth it?
As stated already, the visual upgrades are noticeable but they’re nothing ground-breaking. That might make some wonder why the developers bothered with it anyway. Well, because of varying tastes. There are some folks out there who would rather a prettier game than a faster one. Thus, options have now been given to players. Those who can’t live without playing at a full 60 frames can still enjoy the fluidity it offers when using Performance mode.
For those who want a little bit more eye-candy however, Quality mode is now available. It would be great if the folks over at Panic Button could optimize the Switch version further so that the visuals of Quality mode can be had while keeping the full 60 frames, but we’ll have to wait and see if that ever happens. In the meantime, the most important thing is that Rocket League is just as fun as it’s ever been on Switch.