The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV from NIS America and Nihon Falcom debuted in the West on PS4 last year before it arrives on PC and Nintendo Switch beginning April 9. Trails of Cold Steel IV is a huge JRPG and the conclusion to Falcom’s Trails of Cold Steel story. Having played it previously on PS4 and now on both PC and Nintendo Switch, it has been interesting to see how the game scales down on Nintendo Switch and well beyond the PS4 version on PC. Check out my detailed PC performance review of Trails of Cold Steel IV here. This guide will help you decide which console to buy it on and highlight the differences across the PS4 and Nintendo Switch versions of Trails of Cold Steel IV.
Trails of Cold Steel IV Switch vs PS4 graphics
Trails of Cold Steel IV targets 1080p on PS4 and 4K on PS4 Pro while it targets 720p both docked and handheld on Nintendo Switch. The biggest differences in the graphics barring the resolution is in textures, shadows, and post-processing. Even with some anti-aliasing when played docked on Nintendo Switch, the overall image quality isn’t as good as the PS4. The PS4 Pro obviously goes a lot higher and with downsampling when played on a 1080p display, the variance between Nintendo Switch docked and PS4 Pro is even higher on the same display.
My biggest problem with the docked visuals in Trails of Cold Steel IV on Nintendo Switch are that the interface and menus aren’t crisp enough. Games like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and more recently Monster Hunter Rise go for a native resolution interface to avoid any clarity issues while keeping the gameplay at a lower resolution. That would’ve helped here given the amount of menus you interact with while playing Trails of Cold Steel IV.
Trails of Cold Steel IV isn’t a game that pushes graphics much but having a much higher resolution definitely helps it overall. The only situation where I’m ok with the Nintendo Switch visuals is when played in portable mode where it just gets the job done versus the PS4 version that has no issues.
Trails of Cold Steel IV Switch vs PS4 frame rate and performance
On PS4 and PS4 Pro, Trails of Cold Steel IV targets 60fps just like Trails of Cold Steel III. On Nintendo Switch both docked and handheld, the frame rate target is 30fps. In my time with the game on PS4 Pro, the 60fps target was mostly held without issues barring a few situations. On Nintendo Switch, the 30fps target is held well with a few fluctuations. If you’re ok with 30fps, there’s no problem going with the Nintendo Switch version.
When it comes to load times, they vary a bit with either PS4 or Nintendo Switch pulling ahead depending on the situation. If you play on PS5 via backward compatibility, the frame rate and load time variances vanish as expected. Overall, the PS4 version is the clear winner for performance and frame rate overall.
Trails of Cold Steel IV Switch vs PS4 features and contents
Both the Nintendo Switch and PS4 versions of Trails of Cold Steel IV have the same content with DLC planned to arrive on Nintendo Switch. There is one difference in the save data bonus. On PS4, you can get a bonus for having system data from Trails of Cold Steel I and II but this is nowhere to be seen on Nintendo Switch. Considering both Trails of Cold Steel I and II are not on Nintendo Switch yet, I thought the developers would make it so those who own Trails of Cold Steel III can get the bonuses of the first two games as well but that isn’t possible in the game’s current state. The Trails of Cold Steel III save data bonuses are present though.
As with Trails of Cold Steel III, there is no touchscreen support in Trails of Cold Steel IV on Nintendo Switch. It would’ve been good to have menu interactions support the touchscreen at least. The Nintendo Switch version does include some DLC from the start though just like Trails of Cold Steel III did on Nintendo Switch. This includes the Crossbell Reisistance Costume, Rean’s True Dark Prince Costume, and more.
Trails of Cold Steel IV Switch vs PS4 – What to buy
Considering Trails of Cold Steel IV arrives on PC and Nintendo Switch a few months after the PS4 version, there’s a chance some people might have the PS4 release but still consider getting it on another platform for either better performance or portability. If you value portability above all, Trails of Cold Steel IV on Nintendo Switch is a good experience. It is better than Trails of Cold Steel I and II were on PS Vita by a lot and similar to Trails of Cold Steel III on Nintendo Switch. The PS4 and PS4 Pro versions easily beat the Nintendo Switch version for visuals and performance.
For the best visuals and performance on the console side, stick with the PS4 version. The PS4 version runs at a target of 1080p and 60fps and manages to hold that target almost perfectly in most situations. On Nintendo Switch, the game targets 720p and 30fps both docked and handheld with some post-processing improvements when docked. For playing on the big screen, the Nintendo Switch version isn’t great with even the interface not looking crisp enough. For portable play, it is worth it.
There are a lot of people including myself who originally experienced Trails of Cold Steel I and II on PS Vita so having a portable version to continue the story is always welcome. If you don’t value playing on the go as much, stick with the PS4 version when it comes to consoles. Overall, the portable Nintendo Switch version is good enough for playing on the go but if you’d like to play on a TV, go for the PS4 version when it comes to the consoles. If you’re wondering how the PC version stacks up, read my Trails of Cold Steel IV PC port review here.
Trails of Cold Steel IV is available on PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam and GOG.