As had been rumoured for months, the Switch is a hybrid portable and home console that will allow you to play the same games at home and on the go with a near seamless switch from the Switch dock to portable ready.
Nintendo released its first look at the new Switch in action. The three-minute video shows a man going from playing the upcoming Legend of Zelda game on the couch to on the go by clipping in the controllers to the side of the console. The video also showed portable split-screen multiplayer using the Switch’s two slide-in controllers and portable online multiplayer.
It’s a definite change in direction from the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One Scorpio which are designed to be graphical powerhouses. As it did with the Wii and Wii U, Nintendo is charting its own direction with their next console. The Switch doesn’t appear to be a massive step up in terms of graphics from the Wii U. In fact, it looked like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was noticeably down on framerate when portable compared to in the dock.
What the Switch seems to be is an admission by Nintendo that they missed the mark with the Wii U. They tried to combine something of a unique experience with the Wii U’s Gamepad and a traditional console without really differentiating it from the Wii. While the Wii U certainly had some great games, they were lacking in commercial success and publisher support.
One of the things that the first look emphasized was third-party support. The promo included video of Skyrim and NBA 2K basketball. Nintendo also announced numerous third-party publishers on-board with the Switch, including EA, Ubisoft, Activision, WB Games, Square Enix, Capcom and From Software. Based on that selection, the Switch might be able to handle current-gen games using its custom NVIDIA Tegra processor which was something that analysts didn’t think would be entirely possible prior to this video.
There are a lot of questions that Nintendo will need to answer between now and the console’s launch in March 2017. Things like cost and launch titles are standard for new consoles but the unique nature of the Switch leads to more questions. Matters like battery life, the quality of the screen, how many the number of people the Switch can handle for couch multiplayer and if there’s any difference between the home and portable experience.
I’d imagine that Nintendo will be very busy updating us on the Switch between now and spring.