The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III (Nintendo Switch) Preview
I greatly enjoyed my time with Trails of Cold Steel III when I reviewed the PlayStation 4 version late last year, but I'd be lying if I said that there wasn't something looming over my heard during my playthrough - namely, that it was stuck on a home console. Besides for Trails of Cold Steel III, my history with the Trails franchise has been predominantly on two platforms - PC and handhelds, mostly the late PlayStation Vita. More specifically, I played through the previous two Trails of Cold Steel titles on the little handheld that could, and I couldn't help but think it was a shame to see the latest title shackled to a home console.
Naturally, I was very happy to hear that NIS America had opted to bring the title to both Nintendo Switch and PC. I was also very, very curious to see how the game would run on the Switch. So, to say that I jumped at the chance to check out the port when NIS America invited us to their offices would be an understatement.
I think some historical context for anyone that didn't play Trails of Cold Steel 1 and 2 on Vita is needed - the games didn't run very well. Cold Steel 2 more consistently hit its 30FPS target than the first game, but neither was actually all that consistent during intense scenes or even in any towns where an abundance of character models were rendered. Especially as I remember it, the game's performance would dip often, and dip far. Some scenes, like the school festival, were very nearly unplayable if not for the fact that the game was, in fact, a turn-based RPG.
To spare you all the details - what little I've seen of Cold Steel III on Switch so far seems very promising. While the title renders at 720p in both modes of play (and, sadly, that includes elements like the UI - I asked), performance appears to be a relatively smooth 30FPS, regardless of if the game is docked or in handheld mode. There were a few scenes that I went into our meeting with NISA that I specifically wanted to see that I was, unfortunately, unable to verify their performance. What I have seen does make me feel confident that, at worse, Cold Steel III on Switch will perform in line with the series' history on Vita.
Besides resolution and framerate, it seems clear that the other main concession that the game had to undergo in order to run on Switch was lowered texture resolution for some assets. While at least some of it could be accounted for by the lower resolution, others are very clearly of a lower quality than the same assets on PlayStation 4 and PC, which is only to be expected. Regardless, the game still looks quite good for the platform - doubly so when played in handheld mode on a smaller screen.
We managed to capture quite a bit of footage of the game running in docked mode on the Switch, and we've put together a video compilation of some of our hands-on with the game so you can get a better idea of the game on Switch for yourselves. NIS America has still yet to date the game for it's North American and European release, though if the March 18th Japanese release date is anything to go by, we should be hearing more about the port's western release very soon.