Just a few weeks ago, the famous honcho of The Legend of Zelda series, Eiji Aonuma, has announced that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel will be delayed to Spring 2023. It was an announcement that many of us no doubt expected, especially since 2022 is already welcoming the likes of Bayonetta 3, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and the more recently announced Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, which are lined up for the “Late-2022” slot.
While we wiped a tear from the corner of our eyes and lamented that we wouldn’t be playing BOTW2 over the holidays this year, the announcement video itself featured brand new footage from the upcoming sequel; so much so, in fact, that we’ve even come up with 16 theories about Link’s new gnarled arm. What we may not have noticed at the time – something we hadn’t considered until the guys at Digital Foundry talked about it recently – is that the images look remarkably sharp for OG Switch hardware.
Now trailers for games running on slightly beefier hardware are nothing new, but the team at Digital Foundry thinks there might be some weight behind the theory that Breath of the Wild 2 might be coming. on all-new Switch hardware. Whether it was a “new” Switch along the lines of the new 3DS, which offered a modest spec upgrade, or a “Pro” Switch variety or the successor to the “Switch 2”, it is impossible to say at this time, but their main reasoning was that the volumetric clouds that feature prominently in the trailer seem, in their expert opinion, too advanced for the processing power of the humble Switch.
This, along with the higher resolution and anti-aliasing techniques, may indicate that the game is potentially a “cross-gen” release, similar to the last game. Digital Foundry video producer Alex Battaglia said: “since they’re delaying it now, I think it’s going to be the equivalent of what we saw with Breath of the Wild, so where it’s launching on the old and also the new and we see the nice benefits something new”. You can watch the team discuss the clip in the DF video here:
We at Nintendo Life are a little more skeptical, although of course we love the idea of a whole new toy to play with. The idea of a new Switch console releasing alongside Breath of the Wild 2 in 2023 is not entirely off the table, but with the OLED model only six months old at the time of writing, it seems unlikely Nintendo will want to introduce another SKU to the market any time soon. After all, with the original Switch now over five years old, many early adopters consider the OLED model a decent upgrade worth picking up. For Nintendo to come out a little over a year later and say “oops, sorry friends, that’s the real improve“feels a little premature, especially given how healthy Switch sales are.
Then again, it’s possible Nintendo is going down an entirely different route: primarily, a new dock that improves resolution when playing on the big screen. Since OLED introduced a significant upgrade for people who primarily enjoy handheld gaming, a new dock would benefit resolution-seeking gamers who prefer to game in docked mode. This could give the “native” output resolution a big bump via built-in upscaling technology – perhaps even going all the way up to 4K (although we’ve seen various bits of kit that do this before). Again, that doesn’t quite explain the volumetric clouds that Digital Foundry says exceeds the capabilities of the current Switch.
Ultimately, Breath of the Wild 2 will run just fine on the current Switch; it’s a little possesses to the right? The first game was perfectly playable and excellent on Wii U, and even the Switch version struggled in places (hello, Korok Forest!). There’s simply no way Nintendo will ever give up on a console that, at the time of writing, has sold over 100 million units, surpassing the mighty Wii. The first Breath of the Wild sold roughly one copy for four Switches in the wild right now, and Nntendo isn’t going to disappoint that audience for slightly fancier visuals.
As for a possible cross-gen version? Well, even given the ongoing difficulties currently facing manufacturers, it is certainly possible, but we are not yet fully convinced. This just doesn’t seem like the right time to us, especially considering that global chip shortages are set to continue well into 2023. We wouldn’t pass up Nintendo to come up with some kind of game upgrade/remaster later. line, however; maybe a kind of collection that brings together the two Breath of the Wild games for its next console? We would be ready for that!
The real question is whether Switch owners would be tempted to upgrade to the new Switch hardware if it was a cross-platform (Nintendo cross-platform, of course) release, because that’s what Nintendo would be banking on using the same tactic used with both Twilight Princess on GameCube/Wii and BOTW on Wii U/Switch.
Are we going to upgrade? Of course we would, but new Nintendo hardware is tied to our work here, so it’s easier for us to justify it. Would like to you upgrade, though?…
So, we’re not sure we’ll see a brand new Switch console release alongside Breath of the Wild 2, but we’d love to hear what you think. Check out the polls below and be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts on the matter!