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Hinterland: The Long Dark on Switch ‘ran into a lot of performance issues’

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In his latest development diary, studio founder Raph van Lierop sheds some light on what’s happening with The Long Dark on Switch.

With its first game, The Long Dark, spending several years in Steam’s Early Access programme, Hinterland Games by necessity began practising open development. That meant everything from analysing user feedback to tweak and tune the game through to regular communication and updates from the game’s director, Raph van Lierop.

The Long Dark left Early Access in 2017, but that spirit of open development has continued. Raph still runs a regular development diary and answers community questions in the regular ‘Milton Mailbag‘ segment on Hinterland’s forums.

In today’s dev diary, Raph is typically forthcoming on progress with The Long Dark. He touches on changes to episode 3 – entirely understandable, following the redux release of episodes 1 and 2 late last year – and on their new motion capture studio. He also promised, to avoid disappointment and inflicting crunch on the Hinterland team, that they would no longer be publicly announcing release date targets “until those updates are essentially finished” so that “when you hear a release date from us, you know it will happen”.

One particularly interesting addition to the dev diary was on the progress of The Long Dark on Switch. Begging developers for Nintendo Switch ports of games isn’t cool – though we’re all guilty of it, from time to time – but it’s hard to deny that, like playing Breath of the Wild in the wilderness, it would be rather pleasing to play The Long Dark in the frigid North of Canada. Or outside, in the garden, when it’s a bit nippy, if you’re in a pinch.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting a release of The Long Dark on Switch any time soon. Hinterland “spent some time last year trying to get the game up and running on Switch devkits and ran into a lot of performance issues”. Raph then added the following qualification, and a little glimmer of hope, on that prospect:

“The latest version of Unity – which we’ll be rolling out as part of our next Survival update – does offer some performance improvements (which should also make the Xbox and PlayStation versions of the game run more smoothly), but we still don’t find the Switch performance to be at an acceptable level yet. We’re going to keep working on it alongside our other priorities, but I want to set reasonable expectations around this – not every game can run well on the Switch, and if we’re not able to get The Long Dark running at a level of performance and visual quality that I’m happy with, we won’t be shipping it. All that said, I’m still hopeful that we can find solutions to the current issues, and we think The Long Dark would be really compelling on this portable platform, so we’re not giving up!”

So The Long Dark on Switch isn’t out of the question, and it’s still something Hinterland would like to deliver, but it won’t happen unless the performance is up to scratch.

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