Bayonetta 3 patch improves gameplay, but the Nintendo Switch still holds it back

The latest Bayonetta 3 patch has just dropped, offering a swathe of solid gameplay improvements that should make the playable characters’ journey more enjoyable.

Patch 1.2.0 for Bayonetta 3 launched with detailed patch notes, showing us the latest round of improvements PlatinumGames has made to the Umbra Witch’s latest Nintendo Switch adventure. The full notes can be read over on Nintendo’s support website.

The patch’s improvements for Bayonetta 3 are largely gameplay related, primarily focusing on tweaks to secondary character Viola’s move set. For example, Platinum has now eased the conditions that allow her to activate Witch Time, a time-slowing ability that makes it easier to unleash combos on enemies. Previously, Viola’s Witch Time activation was frustratingly inconsistent and felt a little unnatural, so it’s nice to see the developers address this flaw relatively quickly.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Changes have also been made to some of the more frustrating Niflheim bonus challenges. These bite-sized missions task players to meet certain criteria, such as defeating a number of enemies within a time limit or taking as few hits as possible. A handful of particularly aggravating Niflheim challenges have now had their requirements eased.

Unfortunately, it’s not all good news. The patch notes make no mention of Bayonetta 3’s shaky performance. This means that the game’s busier combat sequences and bombastic set pieces are still likely to demonstrate rocky frame pacing. Many of these drop Bayonetta 3’s framerate to an unstable 30fps, taking much of the satisfaction out of combat that 60fps would have eradicated. 

The shadow remains cast

(Image credit: Nintendo )

I’ve previously made the case that Bayonetta 3 is held back by the Nintendo Switch. The console’s aging Tegra X1 custom mobile chip doesn’t do the game’s high-octane action any favors. Of course, PlatinumGames is not entirely at fault for this, but it does mean that Bayonetta 3’s more ambitious moments aren’t as memorable as they otherwise could be.

Bayonetta 3’s performance is an unfortunate blip in the company’s resume. Its games typically operate as very stable framerate targets. Astral Chain, for example, keeps a locked 30fps for the majority of its runtime, and combat feels all the more gratifying because of this. Similarly, the Nintendo Switch ports of Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2 are both able to hold their 60fps targets under much pressure.

I don’t expect miracles here. Platinum isn’t likely to alleviate Bayonetta 3’s performance issues in one fell patch. But I’d love to see the developer take small steps to improve performance over the course of the year. Smaller tweaks here and there could add up to a more stable whole.

Of course, more powerful hardware like a Nintendo Switch Pro model could go a long way to improving performance for the best Nintendo Switch games across the board, but whether that materializes mid-gen or next-gen remains to be seen.

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