Digital Foundry has finally got around to taking a look at the Switch iteration of Ark: Survival Evolved and let's just say the results aren't pretty. The open-world survival game has never run well on the most powerful consoles and is poorly optimised. While the Unreal Engine might have proven itself on the Switch in the past, Ark's use of it falls short.
Everything in the Switch version of the game has been seriously scaled back. Foilage is not present, the jungle floor looks incomplete, objects nearby are displayed at a low resolution, assets are reduced and textures are a mess throughout. Apparently, the visual quality is closer to a Nintendo 64 title. The blur is so bad and resolution so low, DF struggled to identify what techniques were used by the developer Studio Wildcard. When tested, resolutions were around 360p and 432p in docked mode and in some cases, DF noted resolutions of 304 x 170 - lower than a Sega Mega Drive game and also much blurrier.
It's the lowest resolution Switch game DF has tested. Its pixel count is worse than games from the GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox era - even then, those games do a better job. In handheld mode, the problem is magnified, with pixel counts hanging below 216p on a regular basis - not to mention visual quality taking a serious hit. Sadly, the mobile version beats the Switch release, because the Switch version attempts to deliver the full experience.
In terms of the frame rate, that's one of the better aspects of this port. It holds up at around 30fps in docked, with minor hiccups from time to time, and in portable, it's much the same - running at 30fps, with dips here and there. It's mildly better than you might expect. In saying this, the load times are unforgivable, taking more than two minutes during DF's test, all while they played the first level of Contra III on the side. It's probably best to avoid unless you're an absolute diehard fan of Ark.