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Want to know how much power Switch has? Zelda runs at 900p, 30 fps

Want to know how much power Switch has? Zelda runs at 900p, 30 fps

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Nobody comes to Nintendo hoping for the hottest gaming hardware specs, but it's still important to know exactly how little power Nintendo is actually bringing to this console generation. The company recently confirmed to IGN that its flagship Zelda game, Breath of the Wild (which was originally announced for the Wii U, a Xbox 360-ish console power-wise), will run at 900p and 30 fps on the Switch when hooked up to a TV. On the Wii U the game will run at 720p / 30 fps and have slightly downgraded environmental sounds.

The Switch's built-in screen is 720p, but Nintendo has confirmed the console can support 1080p when docked. So the only thing that's holding Switch back is enough horsepower to render this open-world Zelda in a current-gen resolution, and Switch clearly falls short. Of course, not even the Xbox One or PS4 run every title in 1080p / 60. Grand Theft Auto V runs at 1080p / 30 on both systems, and Just Cause 3 runs at 900p on the Xbox but 1080p on the PS4. Still, this Zelda isn't a game that's going for photorealism, and it's a flagship first-party title, so I'd like to think if any modern AAA game would run at 1080p / 60 on the Switch, it would be Zelda.

And by now you're probably sick of me saying 1080p / 60 over and over again, so I'll add the usual caveats: Nintendo knows how to make games look great, resolution and horsepower be damned. Breath of the Wild obviously looks beautiful (if a little dated) in trailers and the gameplay footage I've seen. I'm just looking at this as a benchmark of how much power we can really expect out of the Switch, which will determine which games can be ported to it, and how well they'll play.

Also, I'll add one more note: the difference between 720p, 900p, and 1080p is noticeable to me, but rarely worth commenting on. The difference between 30 fps and 60 fps is a huge quality-of-life difference. I still want a Switch, and I still want to play this new Zelda game, but I'm just trying to brace myself for that Nintendo-level horsepower after coming down from a PS4 Pro high.

Nintendo Switch first look