Zelda Breath Of The Wild 2 Demo Looks So Good It Sparks Nintendo Switch 2 Speculation
People really, really want a more powerful Nintendo system. Everyone loves the Switch, but there's no denying that it's basically a second-generation NVIDIA Shield tablet with a Nintendo nameplate on it. Developers have done truly amazing things with the hardware, but there are limits to what you can accomplish with a sub-15-watt SoC.
Rumors about a "Switch 2" or "Switch Pro" have been circling around for years. We won't do a full recap, but the most credible rumors to date culminated in the release of the Nintendo Switch OLED model, which has a very fancy OLED screen, but otherwise is no more powerful than the original system. The data stolen in NVIDIA's breach in February seemed to indicate that a Switch successor actually was in development at some point, but those plans may or may not have fallen through.
Back at the end of March, Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma took to YouTube to acknowledge that the previously-announced "Sequel to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" (which has no official title yet) will be delayed from its original launch window of "2022" to a more specific period of "Spring 2023." Along with the announcement, Nintendo shared a scant few seconds of new footage of the game.
We aren't the only ones who noticed the surprising sharpness of the new footage, though. Bob from RetroRGB (@RetroRGB on Twitter) was the first person to point out the apparent higher resolution in the trailer. He directly asked the opinion of Digital Foundry's John Linneman. After that ping, John discussed it on the 55th "DF Direct Weekly" stream, where his co-hosts Alex and Rich also had remarks on the topic.
Essentially, Alex agreed with Bob's take, saying that he believes the clouds look like volumetric effects, which are expensive even on current-generation hardware, and thus unlikely in a Switch game. John noted that the scope of the game seems much broader than the original title, which would make sense if it were being targeted at more powerful hardware.
Rich Leadbetter stated that he's less certain, because while most of the video is a very clean 1080p, there are certain scenes which run at 720p. As Rich points out, many Nintendo Switch games do use dynamic resolution scaling. It's not outside the range of possibility that, due to engine optimizations, the Breath of the Wild sequel will target 1080p at times.
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Still, it's also not completely out of the range of possibility that the game was delayed specifically so that it can be another generation-straddling launch. That's becoming sort of a tradition for Zelda games; 2006's Twilight Princess bridged the (very small) gap between the Gamecube and Wii, and then of course Breath of the Wild did the same for the Wii U and Switch, as we mentioned above.
It's been some six years since Nintendo launched the Switch. At that time, the hardware wasn't particularly impressive compared even to other mobile devices. Developers have done incredible things with the Switch, but technology marches on, and Nintendo will have to launch new hardware sooner or later. It may just be the case that a new Zelda game is once again the perfect opportunity to do so. We suppose we'll know when Breath of the Wild 2 launches next Spring.