The UK-based studio renowned for the Sniper Elite and Zombie Army titles has consistently delivered amazing ports on Nintendo's hybrid console (Images via Rebellion Developments)

Zombie Army 4: Dead War Shows How Rebellion Is Masters Of Nintendo Switch Ports

The Nintendo Switch is home to a variety of gaming experiences, many of which made their first appearance on the handheld device.

This includes titles from Rebellion, a UK-based game development studio. They have brought almost all modern games from their catalog, such as Sniper Elite 4, Strange Brigade and Zombie Army 4: Dead War, to the hybrid console.

However, unlike most others AAA games on the platform, these conversions haven’t seen significant cuts — in comparison, at least. They even hold up impressively against their last-generation PlayStation and Xbox counterparts, given the power gap between the portable and Big N’s two stationary machines.


The gates of Rebellion show the utmost care that has gone into the development of the Nintendo Switch

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Let’s take Rebellion’s latest offering on the platform, Zombie Army 4: Dead War, which was recently analyzed by the YouTube channel Digital Foundry.

The third person zombiethemed shooter was released earlier this year for the portable. What is immediately impressive is the fact that the implementation of dynamic resolution scaling (DRS) is very lax. In other words, the game is one of the cleanest third-party ports on the system.

As for the raw numbers, the Nintendo Switch version averages around a native 1920 x 1080 resolution, with the lowest threshold around 918p. The latter only occurs during extremely intense scenarios, such as cutscenes with many effects such as explosions and fire.

The portable mode also includes a native 1280 x 720 image with even less frequent DRS drops (which drop to 648p).

The performance side of things is even more overwhelming, as the game runs at a solid 30 FPS throughout (except for the rare frame time inconsistencies). Yes, this is regardless of what’s happening on screen, from lonely indoors to open spaces with dozens of zombies flooding the screen.

The developers claim that up to 80-100 on-screen zombies can be sustained on the PlayStation 4 version (which was used for comparison). However, the same is true for the Nintendo Switch, despite its much weaker Processor

Of course, given the lower hardware specs of the system, sacrifices had to be made to achieve these stats. The most noticeable cuts were made in the shadows and ambient occlusion (or AO, shadows on characters and assets).

Character models (like zombies) don’t cast shadows at all. Since AO has been scaled back significantly, the final image looks quite dull.

However, other aspects make up for it, including similar model quality, intact level design, etc. Some aspects of the environment, such as textures and reflections, have a 50/50 approach. Large assets retain high-quality detail, while smaller, less noticeable areas can smooth out imperfections.

For example, large bodies of water display screen space reflections (SSR), a burdensome display method for reflective surfaces. To make up for that, smaller reflective elements (such as puddles) will return to a cube map that is aligned with the relevant environment.


Technical wizardry at its best

So how was all this made possible on the small handheld device? ‘s team Eurogamer spoke with members of Rebellion, who provided insight into the development process of the handheld.

Care was taken to optimize every aspect, such as the levels themselves, as each involved a different difficulty and display cost to fit into the Nintendo Switch’s memory budget.

The game also comes out at just 6.4GB for the Nintendo Switch version versus 20GB+ on other platforms. This was done by carefully removing duplicate data and further streamlining their compression techniques.

This also applies to Rebellion’s older titles, from their first project Rogue Troopers to Sniper Elite 4. They all offer both great visual clarity and solid performance.

These days, Major Nintendo Switch third-party ports often go for one over the other. At this point, it wouldn’t be surprising if Sniper Elite 5 also comes to Big N’s handheld in the future.

What are you thinking about? rebellion conversions for the system?


Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh


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