Breath of the Wild 2’s recent gameplay footage certainly looks impressive, but speculation is mounting as to whether the game is actually running on a Switch, or something more powerful.
According to tech experts Digital Foundry (opens in new tab) (thanks, GamesRadar (opens in new tab)), Breath of the Wild 2 includes a number of graphical features that the Nintendo Switch would struggle to run based on its aging hardware.
The latest trailer for the Breath of the Wild sequel apparently runs at a higher image quality than we’re used to seeing on Switch, features graphically taxing volumetric clouds, and also includes an increased draw distance that may be too much for the original Switch hardware to handle.
“This trailer was interesting because the image quality seemed quite good,” says Digital Foundry’s senior staff writer John Linneman. “I was a little bit surprised by how sharp and clear it looks, compared to the original in general.”
“I agree,” says Digital Foundry’s technology editor Richard Leadbitter. “The leap in image quality compared to the first title is stark, to say the least.”
Recent footage of BOTW 2 runs at 1080p to 720p, which is higher than the 900p docked resolution of the original.
While Leadbitter still thinks the higher resolution could be feasible on native hardware thanks to dynamic resolution scaling, Digital Foundry’s video producer Alex Battaglia seems convinced that Breath of the Wild 2’s recent footage definitely wasn’t taken from an original Switch.
When asked if BOTW 2 was actually running on the Switch, Battaglia said: “I honestly don’t think it is. We’ve seen volumetric clouds very rarely on Switch, and these don’t break down super obviously. Camera cuts also have perfect anti-aliasing, which is even rare for an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 game. It could be the next Switch.”
When Battaglia suggests the trailer may have been rendered at a higher resolution, Linneman rightly points out that Nintendo rarely does that. “The thing is, Alex, they never do that. In terms of actual resolution bumps to their trailers, I don’t think they ever really do that,” says Linneman. Nintendo tends to show its games running natively on original hardware, while other companies like Sony and Microsoft often show games running on high-end PCs.
So could Breath of the Wild 2 be a cross-generational title? “I generally think that since they are delaying it now, this is gonna be the equivalent of what we saw with Breath of the Wild: it launches on the old and also on the new, and we see the nice benefits of the new regarding Switch Pro, Switch 2, Switch EX whatever,” says Battaglia.
Will we see the Nintendo Switch 2 in 2023?
Nintendo has been tipped to deliver new hardware for the past couple of years, with many speculating that a Nintendo Switch Pro would be released before 2022. However, Nintendo opted to release the Switch OLED, which though superior in almost every respect to the original model, doesn’t include any technical upgrades whatsoever.
A Nintendo Switch 2 would certainly be welcome for those who play their Switch docked, as the Nintendo Switch can only output at 1080p and isn't capable of hitting 4K resolution. There’s no denying that some titles could also benefit from some additional graphical grunt to help improve performance and deliver better image quality when blown up on the TV.
Nevertheless, Nintendo has been extremely coy about releasing a successor, going as far as to say that the Nintendo Switch is at the mid-point of its lifecycle. Releasing Breath of the Wild 2 as a launch title for any new hardware would make sense, though, particularly if the Nintendo Switch 2 showed a clear improvement over the older models.