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As the seemingly inevitable Switch Pro announcement draws ever nearer, the amount of speculation and hearsay being tossed around is… well, par for the course, really.
Despite the reality of the situation – that Nintendo has announced absolutely nothing so far at the time of writing – various reports from reputable sources have been helping to build anticipation regardless.
If these reports are to be believed, the new Switch will have increased power, and will be able to display games at 4K using Nvidia’s nifty DLSS tech, which uses AI to upscale resolutions to achieve higher graphical settings and better frame rates without a hit on performance.
While so much of this is unknown until Nintendo puts fans out of their misery, it’s easy to imagine how a more powerful Nintendo Switch could benefit some of its existing games (and according to one report, the platform holder has been telling developers to make their games 4K ready since last year).
Assuming there was a way to patch these games to enable Switch Pro support – which again, isn’t yet confirmed – here are eight games that could be transformed the most on the Switch Pro.
Doom and Doom Eternal
When Bethesda announced that the 2016 Doom reboot was coming to Switch, many of us nodded and said “mmm-hmm, we’ll see”. Amazingly, with the masterful work of the porting superstars at Panic Button, it pulled it off.
After managing the ‘impossible port’, Bethesda then claimed that Panic Button was going to do the same with Doom Eternal and at that point the general consensus was “okay, we thought you were being silly last time, but seriously, stop it now.”
Sure enough, it performed miracles again, meaning Switch owners currently have two perfectly playable ports of two graphically intensive games.
That said, there were clear sacrifices made to get both games running on the Switch, most notably a variable resolution that starts at just 720p and can dip down to 540p (or even as low as 360p in portable mode).
A theoretical Switch Pro boost mode could help bring those resolutions up a bit more, to avoid the visuals looking quite as blurry as they currently do.
Ark Survival Evolved
To be blunt, Ark Survival Evolved doesn’t play well on any system – even the Xbox One X struggled with it – so the Switch port was never going to win any awards for the most polished game.
That said, the resulting mess was so enormously downscaled from anything previously seen that the game almost feels unplayable at times – and that’s in the literal sense, not the exaggerated way internet teenagers say GameCube games are unplayable.
The frame rate wasn’t terrible but it was still less stable than a yacht in a storm, and the visual detail was decreased to a ridiculous degree. Foliage was so drastically reduced that what looked like jungle scenes on other systems looked more like empty fields with a couple of trees in them on the Switch.
Even worse, the blurriness is the worst on the console. The performance analyst experts at Digital Foundry spotted the resolution dropping as low as 170p, which is only slightly better than the Game Boy Advance.
The Switch Pro certainly wouldn’t solve all of Ark’s problems, but it would at least get the game running at a more reasonable state so that people who spent 50 actual dollars on it can at least end up with something that looks halfway acceptable on a TV.
There’s no argument that Breath of the Wild was the most impressive game on the Switch at launch.
The ability to play a console quality game of that standard on a handheld was mind-blowing in itself, and was one of the key reasons many players were sold on the Switch’s concept from day one.
That said, the months that followed saw regular discussions about the game’s performance, especially in certain areas where framerates dipped severely. Although patches were released to alleviate this, it’s fair to say that Breath of the Wild still isn’t the smoothest running Zelda game ever made.
(Oh, and while we’re at it, Link’s Awakening could really do with a more stable frame rate too.)
Although a Switch Pro could theoretically address the frame rate in Breath of the Wild, the game has reached the stage where the drops are negligible for the most part. Instead, we’re actually more interested to see how the game could look in 4K.
Fans have experimented with increasing Breath of the Wild’s resolution via emulation in the past, so we would love to see Nintendo show how it can be done through legitimate means.
The current generation of Pokémon is the most visually impressive to date, with large open 3D areas and battles that rarely fail to put a smile on our face.
That’s not to say it isn’t without its issues, though. When things get intense, Sword and Shield can see fairly significant frame rate drops, often dipping to 20 frames per second.
Given the game’s colourful nature, it feels like Sword and Shield is the sort of game that wouldn’t necessarily be transformed with an increase in resolution. 4K Pokémon would certainly look sharper, but that’s about it.
An increase in the frame rate, though – to a solid 30fps at the very least and maybe even beyond that if DLSS can free up a lot of strain – would certainly make the game feel more satisfying to play.
When Rocket League launched on the Switch, developer Psyonix decided to keep the game’s trademark 60 frames per second and let the game take a visual hit as a result.
This meant that although the game ran silky smooth, the resolution was only 720p while docked and 576p in handheld, with various visual details pared back.
Psyonix later added a patch that let Switch players choose between a performance mode (900p and 60fps) and a quality mode that brought the resolution up to native 1080p but dropped the frame rate to 30fps.
Theoretically, a Switch Pro could hopefully give Psyonix enough of an extra boost to remove the player’s need to decide between frame rate and resolution, and give the game a 1080p and 60fps presentation on the Switch for the first time.
Fortnite took the opposite road to Rocket League, which arguably led to more problems.
Rather than opting to go with 60 frames per second at the expense of visual fidelity, the decision was made to try and keep the game visually impressive and make sacrifices in the frame rate department instead.
The result is a game that certainly looks pretty on the Switch, but has a maximum frame rate of 30fps, which can drop to as low as around 20fps whenever any real action starts to happen (which in Fortnite is fairly frequent).
This would be bad enough on its own, but the fact that the game is cross-platform also means that Switch players are at a disadvantage when playing against opponents with Xbox, PlayStation or PC, who are enjoying 60fps and faster response times.
If a Switch Pro enhanced version of Fortnite could restore that frame rate back to something nearer 60fps, Switch owners may have a fairer fight.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate
Let’s end with a more interesting case study. On paper, Super Smash Bros Ultimate is one of the games least in need of Switch Pro support.
It already runs at native 1080p while docked and 720p on handheld, and runs at a silky smooth 60fps in practically every situation (the only exception being an eight-player fight with eight sets of Ice Climbers).
So why does it need the Switch Pro at all? Well, for starters, a boost to 4K would make everything look even more detailed, which would be useful during larger stages in eight-player fights where the camera zooms so far out it’s often tricky to make out what’s going on.
What’s more, with Nvidia’s DLSS tech the upscale to 4K shouldn’t have much impact on processor strain, meaning it should still be able to handle 60fps without much hassle.
Above all else, though, we hope the extra power opens up the ability to capture video clips. Smash is one of the few games that pushes the Switch so far to its limits that video recording is disabled, and we’d love to be able to share epic moments on Twitter as soon as they happen.
Which games would you like to see receive performance boosts on new Nintendo Switch hardware? Let us know in the comments below.