Skip to main content

Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 should wait for a Switch Pro

Someone has to say it and I’m willing to fall on this sword. The latest delay for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild 2, or whatever it ends up being called, is a good first step. It shouldn’t be released this year or really any year where Nintendo’s main platform is the Switch.

The Legend of Zelda series producer, Eiji Aonuma, has an update to share about the launch timing of the sequel to The Legend of #Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Please take a look. pic.twitter.com/7OhayhiuM9

— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) March 29, 2022

I’ve been waiting eagerly for this game, just like so many other people. Breath of The Wild is one of my favorite games ever. To this day, it’s probably still the second-most-played game on my console (right behind Super Smash Bros. Ultimate), and I’ve even been thinking about going back in for a second playthrough. But after seeing it played on the 4K TV I have at home, there’s no way the Switch can do a sequel to Breath of The Wild justice at this stage. It needs something with more power.

Tamed by hardware

I don’t consider myself a huge fan of Nintendo’s games. Some releases excite me, like the latest Kirby game, while I couldn’t care less about others. But regardless of what games Nintendo releases, I’ve seen players of all stripes criticize one thing time and time again: Nintendo’s first-party games have gotten rougher around the edges over time.

I saw those complaints the most after Pokémon Legends: Arceus released. Fans praised it for actually doing something new with the franchise, but the game itself didn’t exactly look picturesque. In terms of tech, Arceus looks and performs worse than games that landed on the system in 2017.

An Alpha Snorlax at night in Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Of course, games on the Switch won’t hold a candle to titles on other current-gen consoles in terms of visuals. It was made to be played on the go; it’s the console’s entire selling point. You take your games with you wherever you are, and that’s still novel. Except now, you can get a subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and an adapter that turns your phone into a controller, and just stream games via the cloud. The Switch has been outdone by the tiny piece of tech you carry in your pocket. The entire reason why it trades performance for mobility is gone, especially considering that the Steam Deck is now out in the world.

The Switch has been outdone by the tiny piece of tech you carry in your pocket.

Yet the Switch still performs the same as it did in 2017. Even the recently released Switch OLED doesn’t boost performance when that’s what the console needs more than a prettier display. I first noticed that first-party games on the Switch were starting to chug when I played Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury in January 2021. The game would drop frames whenever things got too busy in the game’s open world. It wasn’t a good look for a Mario game.

Doing Zelda right

It became abundantly clear to me just how weak the Switch is when one of my housemates tried to play Breath of The Wild on our 55-inch 4K TV. Besides looking muddy when it was on such a large screen, the game couldn’t maintain a stable frame rate. I’d watch as it swung wildly from 30 frames per second to the low 20s due to a lightning strike or too many enemies appearing on screen.

I don’t know if these dips were caused by the size of my TV or if this is just how the game has always performed on a screen bigger than the Switch’s, but it made watching my housemate play almost unbearable. It’s certainly not how a first-party release should perform.

Link glides in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Breath of The Wild‘s sequel is, like any follow-up, supposed to be an improvement in almost every way. So far, that’s what producer Eiji Aonuma has promised, with the upcoming game’s explorable world stretching into the sky. It will be bigger and have more content. It’s reasonable to assume that the game will also be prettier. But I don’t think the Switch can accommodate any of that in the way it’ll need to. At this point, less than five years into its life, the handheld console feels dated. It struggles to run first-party games at a stable framer ate and its visual performance is only more notably lackluster over time.

If the five-year-old Breath of The Wild can’t run well on a Switch, what are the chances that a bigger game will do any better? Nintendo needs new hardware, not just for this game, but for all of its first-party titles. And until the company releases something that can outperform the current Switch, Breath of The Wild 2 can only benefit from delays. The experience will be better if it manages to glide onto new hardware.

Editors' Recommendations

Otto Kratky
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Otto Kratky is a freelance writer with many homes. You can find his work at Digital Trends, GameSpot, and Gamepur. If he's…
Our favorite Switch games of 2023: Tears of the Kingdom, Mario, and much more
Link stands behind text that says Best Switch Games 2023.

If 2023 was our last full year with the Nintendo Switch, what a heck of a sendoff it got.

The rumor mill has been buzzing for months now, claiming that Nintendo plans to reveal and release its Switch successor next year. While that’s a rumor you should take with some skepticism, there’s good reason to believe it may happen. Nintendo reportedly showed off the system to developers behind closed doors at Gamescom this year, and the Switch’s current 2024 lineup feels like the final drop we’d get right before a new system. The Switch could be old news this time next year.

Read more
Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom isn’t our Game of the Year, but it’s the strongest No. 2 ever
Link giving a thumbs-up with a smile.

When we asked our writers to give us a list of their favorite games of 2023, everyone had a different game in the top spot. We saw votes for Super Mario Bros. Wonder, Alan Wake 2, Hi-Fi Rush, and even Sonic Superstars. Baldur's Gate 3 ultimately won out, but what stuck out to me the most following that process was how, on almost everyone's list, the same game was in that No. 2 slot: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

Released by Nintendo in May after a long wait, Tears of the Kingdom would have been the industry's unequivocal game of the year in any other year. Although its competition was too stiff in this packed year for that to be the case, that doesn't make Tears of the Kingdom any less of an experience. In fact, I think that earning a spot near the top on almost everyone's personal list at Digital Trends demonstrates how widely appealing Nintendo's latest Zelda game is and that end-of-year gaming conversations should be about uplifting great games, not nitpicking their flaws to determine which one's the best.
Recognizing great games
Tears of the Kingdom is a monumental achievement in open-world game design. It essentially has three worlds stacked on top of each other. From almost any point in Hyrule, it's possible to stop, look around, and find several points of interest around, above, and below yourself. That alone makes it a game that consistently delivers a sense of awe and discovery, even after dozens of hours of playtime.

Read more
Nintendo’s Zelda movie needs to be nothing like The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Link pulls out the master sword in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

The long-rumored The Legend of Zelda live-action movie is actually happening, with Nintendo confirming that it's officially in production. It’s a logical move following The Super Mario Bros. Movie, one of the year’s highest-grossing films. Video game adaptations appear to be in fashion more than ever before -- seemingly dethroning superhero movies in the process -- and it’s undeniably exciting to see more and more of my favorite franchises make their way to the big screen.

But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried.

Read more