Astroneer launches today on Switch, but performance is far from top-notch

After launching on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC in 2019, Astroneer has completed its Xenobiology update, coming to Switch today. The game has won fans over the years since its launch, and new content promises to take players on a planet-hopping, story-driven quest to uncover the secrets behind strange alien lifeforms. So veteran gamers and potential fans alike might see this latest console release as an entry point. Unfortunately, players may find that StarCraft doesn’t run smoothly on the Switch.

System Era Softworks is the development team behind this sci-fi adventure, with team members from seasoned industry creators such as 343 Industries, Valve, and EA. Astroneer allows players to don the spacesuit of an interstellar explorer who, upon arriving on a new planet, builds a base by gathering resources, transforming alien terrain and crafting more powerful technologies. The result has obvious Minecraft atmosphere, though its vivid polygonal aesthetic and galactic backdrop set it apart from other games in the field.

I played the Switch version of Astroneer for about five hours, traversing undiscovered wilderness, digging huge holes in the landscape, and printing out new science installations to fuel my progress. While the world’s vibrant colors look right at home on the Switch, Nintendo’s console has had some problems handling many aspects of Astroneer. As far as visuals go, the world’s lush foliage comes into view as you traverse the terrain, making the world look desolate until you almost reach the top of a certain location.

The controls, which look clunky at best and frustratingly game-stop at worst, are also a problem. Picking up objects accurately requires the player to use the left trigger, right stick, and right trigger. Not only is it a lot of steps to grab something with precision, but you can’t use the right stick to move the item and the camera at the same time, making it hard to see where you’re going.

These issues don’t make the game unplayable, but they add a layer of fiddling, exacerbated by the game’s limited explanation of how things work. It’s clear that there’s a fun game with clunky controls and poor graphics performance. However, choosing Astroneer on another platform may give you a better gaming experience.