I’ve recently been playing through The Witcher III: Wild Hunt on the Switch and the game is amazing. It’s such a deep RPG that I imagine I could spend hundreds of hours as Geralt just vanquishing monsters, fetching frying pans, and playing Gwent. And the game, surprisingly, performs well on Switch! Throughout my playthrough I kept having to get over the fact that I was playing a Triple A title on a portable device.
The game exceeds expectations in terms of performance. I experienced no lag or slowdowns of the sort in terms of gameplay mechanics. I was able to play relatively seamlessly. But the port is not perfect. As you probably know, the Switch outputs 780p in handheld mode and 1080p when docked. This leads to perhaps the biggest flaw in playing The Witcher III on the Switch: the graphics become somewhat horrendous when playing in handheld mode. I noticed this immediately upon starting.
The visuals are stunning, reminding me of my playthrough of Red Dead Redemption 2. But the character models can be a little choppy, especially in the (many, many) cut scenes. Sometimes playing the game felt a little bit like wearing a contact lens that didn’t quite fit right, or glasses that were slightly the wrong prescription. In some cases, the bushes and trees were comparable to the infamous Pokémon Sword and Shield trees. This didn’t detract enormously from the game, but it was noticeable.
It was just announced by Bloomberg that Nintendo intends to release a new version of the Switch with Samsung’s OLED screens. The screen will be slightly bigger, coming in at seven inches, and improve coloration. The system is also supposed to support 4K resolution when docked. Unfortunately, however, the screen will only output 780p, which means there will be no drastic improvement to the handheld graphics.
This, I believe, is where Nintendo should focus its efforts when planning and releasing a new version of the Switch. The console’s selling point has always been its ability to be both a home and portable console. While it will be great to be able to play in 4K in docked mode, this will only make the contrast between docked and handheld modes greater. And it doesn’t really get at the core issue. Nintendo should focus on upscaling its graphics and playability in handheld mode, prioritizing it over docked mode, because this is how many Switch gamers play. If home console graphics were the most important to me, I’d spend a lot more time playing my PlayStation than my Switch.
At the end of the day, the new Nintendo Switch will be an improvement. It saddens me to know they aren’t planning to upscale the handheld mode, which would allow more Triple A games like Final Fantasy XV and Red Dead Redemption 2 to make their way to the console, but at least they haven’t given up the idea of a Switch Pro. Hopefully this will only be the first iteration of console improvements.