Spanish developers Digital Legends Entertainment have finally brought Afterpulse to Nintendo Switch, a squad-based shooter with tons of weapon and loadout options. Unfortunately, though, it hasn’t quite made a successful transition to console play.
At a glance, Afterpulse could be mistaken for one of the countless CoD Mobile lookalikes on iOS or Google stores, which makes sense, as it first came out on mobile in 2019. Players are dropped into the shoes of a generic soldier, tasked with fighting other random characters on a variety of generic battlefields.
It might not seem like it, but there is potential here for a new type of shooter that could keep players interested if the gameplay was more engaging. It’s no doubt capable of some fun moments on mobile, though the step up is hardly plain sailing.
Plagued by clunky controls, forgettable map designs, god-level aim assist, and a lack of storyline, it is difficult to be “wowed” with Afterpulse on Nintendo Switch.
Afterpulse – Key Details
- Price: $19.99 (Nintendo Switch), Free to play (mobile)
- Developer: Digital Legends Entertainment
- Release Date: March 30, 2021 (Switch)
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Mobile
Credit where credit is due, there are some cool looking weapon skins and outfits. They look great on the main menu when you’re setting up your loadout.
Once you get into a match, the graphics actually hold up fairly well, too. You can still piece together a unique gun, but the third-person perspective means most of these weapons just end up looking the same. The camera angle takes away from the hard work you’ve put in, and that is a real shame.
Character models don’t lose a ton of detail from their main menu versions, so it is cool to be able to show off your custom soldier during a match.
The level design is also your standard shooter fare. There are a variety of maps available and they all look pretty decent, if not over-designed. That said, each of them are fairly small. Each map also has a heavy brown and black palette, which quickly makes it a challenge just to see where you’re going once you go inside a building, and harder to remember any defining features of the map once a match is over. Not a lot stands out.
A clanky, bullet sponge simulator
Afterpulse can basically be broken down to a few simple steps: Move to where the shooting is, aim at enemies, shoot, repeat — all in that order. The game first came out on mobile, and just playing the Switch version makes that painfully obvious.
It would be really useful if somebody appeared in a loading screen and said this: “Aiming? Where you’re going, you don’t need aiming.” Simply getting the crosshairs within a nautical mile of an enemy will cause you to lock on and empty as many shots as it takes to get the job done. There’s also no way to aim down the sights, or improve your accuracy besides moving closer to your target.
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Mobility is also as barebones as it gets. The only reason to move around is to find more enemies to shoot. Forget dodging anything, because the level of aim assist this game has makes all of that pretty pointless.
There is absolutely no reason to focus on mobility — seriously, none. A bunch of the armor provides mobility at the cost of sacrificing protection, which makes absolutely no sense. The only reason to focus on speed is to make fights quicker, where you’ll be standing around, shooting, and taking shots.
Switch crashes and frustrating bugs
A Nintendo Switch should be capable of playing something originally developed for mobile, which is why the loading crashes in Afterpulse are so confusing. To be fair, it never crashed during a game or at any other crucial moment while we were testing it, but it did have a bit of trouble getting going.
We also came across an odd bug in the first multiplayer game, where it wasn’t possible to deal any damage at all. The bug did seem to work itself out, though, and I went on to absolutely dominate in the following matches. While aim assist can take some credit for those successful performances, the issues were certainly frustrating.
Weapons, armor and progression
Afterpulse is not all bad, though. You will find a surprising variety of firearms and armor, which all have their own unique look for players to unlock. Guns are ranked on a simple star system — the more stars, the better that gun is. In that respect, progression and leveling up is rewarding.
Each piece of armor also comes with a unique stat modifier or two, like reduced damage taken from a certain type of weapon, or increasing the amount of damage you can do with a specific class.
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Gear is unlocked through loot boxes received after matches and completing quests, but you can also buy them with real money through micro-transactions, too.
Your favorite pieces can be upgraded to become even more powerful and once you reach a certain point, with a strong enough coordinated loadout, you basically become a demigod capable of mowing down 20-30 enemies a match. This is always going to be fun, even if the gameplay lacks.
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The only way to get more new stuff in Afterpulse, is to play more Afterpulse. Even after a couple of matches it started to feel like an infinite slog, so this might be difficult.
That being said, there is some incentive to keep coming back, and that’s to get even better weapons and armor. It’s just a shame that once you’ve played one match, you’ve basically played them all.
The sharp graphics and interesting gear mechanics are all that save this game from reaching a lower score. Unique armor sets allow you to build a loadout that buffs your favorite weapon and style of play, an interesting concept that could definitely work under different circumstances.
However, its clunky, ultra-simplistic gameplay just isn’t suited to the Nintendo Switch and it feels like you should be playing a free to play title (which is ironically how much it costs on mobile), instead of one that’s $19.99.