After years of speculation, a Nintendo Switch Pro model may finally hit shelves this year. According to a report from Bloomberg, a new version of the console is set to enter production this summer. The new unnamed Switch 2.0 will reportedly feature a 7-inch OLED screen, giving the handheld higher contrast. Other rumored features include better battery life and the ability to play games in 4K when the console is docked.
With a possible 2021 release date looming, fans are left wondering if any big games will launch alongside it. When the news broke on Wednesday night, Breath of the Wild was trending on Twitter right under Switch Pro. Fans have long speculated that the sequel to the Switch launch title will come alongside a new model, despite there being no evidence to support that.
Players might want to keep their expectations in check when it comes to any big holiday game releases to usher in the console. A quick browse through the history of mid-generation hardware upgrades shows that a new console doesn’t always mean a new game.
A short history of launches
Brand new consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X always have some sort of day one software lineup to get players buying new, expensive hardware early. By extension, one might assume the same has been true for incremental upgrades over the past few decades. In reality, generational hardware bumps tend to have a much different launch strategy than the main console it’s building on.
Neither the PS4 Pro nor Xbox One X launched with any new system-selling first-party games available on day one. Major titles like Dishonored 2 and Final Fantasy XV launched around them, but they weren’t specifically tied to any new hardware push. The same was true for the Xbox One S and PS4 Slim before those.
Nintendo is a different story. The company has a long history of updating its hardware, primarily its handhelds, and sweetening the pot with new games. The Nintendo 2DS launched alongside Pokemon X & Y, which is as big of a first-party game as one could ask for. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D came out the same day as the New 3DS XL and even got its own special edition system to commemorate the launch.
More recently, Nintendo dropped The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on the same day as the Switch Lite. There’s certainly a precedent for Nintendo to tie mid-generation hardware and software together, so fans who assume a big title is coming alongside the Switch Pro aren’t entirely off-base.
That’s still not a given, especially considering how in-flux game release dates are in 2021. In reality, the Switch Pro doesn’t really need a system-selling game at all. The idea of an upgraded Switch itself has been in high demand since the original launch in 2017. It’s arguably a bigger deal than most games it could launch with. Still, even with that possibility in mind, a synchronized game launch does seem likely if the Switch Pro exists at all.
What game will launch with the Switch Pro?
So, what game will actually launch alongside the new system? Let’s set some expectations right out the gate: Probably not Breath of the Wild 2. While fans have long linked the sequel to the Switch Pro, there’s no real reason to think Nintendo would tie the game’s release plans to a new piece of hardware. Considering that the company specifically didn’t announce anything new about the game at its latest Direct, it’s unlikely that it will launch this year at all.
There are other Zelda games that could be candidates, however. Current rumors indicate that HD versions of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess could be coming to the console following the re-release of Skyward Sword this summer. It would certainly be in-line with Nintendo’s history to launch a Zelda remake alongside a console.
The more realistic answer is in plain sight: Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. The new remakes are set to launch later this year, though Nintendo didn’t specify an exact release date. It’s clear that the game will be one of the system’s bigger releases this holiday season, making it exactly the kind of game that could sync up with a new hardware drop.
That said, these certainly aren’t the most exciting options on the table. If the Switch Pro’s biggest feature does end up being its 4K capabilities, HD remasters or the chibi-style Pokemon remakes aren’t exactly the kind of powerhouse games that’ll take advantage of it. It might give players a reason to buy a Switch, but not necessarily a reason to buy the more expensive model.
It’s always possible that there’s an unannounced game waiting in the wings somewhere that could be revealed alongside the system, but fans should set their expectations accordingly. The Switch Pro would be a hot holiday item in any case. For those who have yet to buy into Nintendo’s hybrid console, the only launch game that matters is four years of excellent exclusives they’ve yet to experience.
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