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Nintendo Switch 2 needs this one before I'd consider buying

 Nintendo Switch OLED.
Nintendo Switch OLED.

The Nintendo Switch 2 hasn’t officially been announced but it’s a safe bet The Big N is working on a follow-up to the wildly successful Nintendo Switch. Rumors once suggested a 2023 release, but that didn’t end up happening. Now, it seems the system we’re currently calling Switch 2 might come out in 2025. If this next-gen Switch is anything like its predecessor, it could be one of the best handheld gaming consoles for fans of the original.

Understandably, many are excited about the prospect of a Nintendo Switch 2. While that’s great, I’m not one of these folks.

I won’t deny that Nintendo does an excellent job catering to its core audience by consistently delivering enjoyable exclusive games. Among other reasons, this may be why the company hasn’t suffered massive layoffs like other publishers. I applaud Nintendo for staying true to its course and not copying what Sony and Microsoft are doing with the PS5 and Xbox Series X, respectively. Still, it’s hard for me to get excited about the Nintendo Switch 2.

I bought a Nintendo Switch at launch in 2017. Playing in docked mode on my old 1080p “dumb” TV was generally fine, though the graphical fidelity and performance were behind the PS4 Pro and gaming PC I owned back then. I all but stopped playing the Switch after I got the LG CX OLED, as the Switch’s graphics looked horrendous on a 4K TV. I played Metroid Dread thanks to the mClassic HDMI upscaler, but after that, I was done.

Given my preference for graphics and performance provided by the best gaming laptops and best gaming PCs, perhaps I’m not the target audience for Nintendo systems. However, I’m willing to give the legendary Japanese gaming company another shot if the Nintendo Switch 2 has something many wanted from the original handheld/console hybrid — a dock with a coprocessor chip to boost graphics and resolution on the best gaming monitors and best TVs.

Playing with power

Nintendo Switch OLED
Nintendo Switch OLED

Before diving in, I want to clarify that I don’t expect Nintendo to include a coprocessor chip in the Switch 2’s dock. Doing so would raise the system’s price and Nintendo likely wants to keep costs as low as possible. This is why the original Switch used an old Tegra chip instead of the latest model available at the time. Releasing a separate dock with a coprocessor chip could also bifurcate the Switch 2’s audience. Still, I want to indulge in this fantasy for a moment.

Rumors suggest the Nintendo Switch 2 could be as powerful as a PS4 or Xbox One — which would make sense given how the Switch is about on par with a PS3 and Xbox 360. If true, Nintendo would once again be a generation behind its competitors, spec-wise.

Previous-gen systems from Sony and Microsoft tend to upscale well on 4K televisions, so we should expect the same from the Switch 2. However, a dock that can help boost the Switch 2’s upscaling capabilities would provide higher fidelity graphics on 4K displays.

Tom's Guide Awards 2023: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Tom's Guide Awards 2023: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

The same is true for performance. Yes, the Nintendo Switch has games capable of running at 60 frames per second (fps), but that isn’t a universal truth. For instance, Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom each ran at 30 fps, but could sometimes nosedive to 20 fps. That’s not a good look for Nintendo’s flagship The Legend of Zelda series.

I’d say the Switch 2 might be powerful enough to run games at 1080p/60fps consistently, but given how the PS4 and Xbox One couldn’t accomplish that outside of select titles, I don’t expect anything different in this regard. However, a dock with a coprocessor chip can certainly boost performance.

Nintendo Switch 2 outlook

New Nintendo Switch
New Nintendo Switch

Sony and Microsoft have always strived to release the most powerful home consoles possible. However, Nintendo stopped playing that particular game when it released the underpowered Nintendo Wii back in 2006. Since then, the company hasn’t released a system with specs on par with the competition.

Aside from the ill-fated Wii U, this tactic has proven successful — even if it’s made Nintendo consoles boring to someone like me. Call me shallow, but I find graphics and performance as important as gameplay. Because of that, it’s been hard to get excited about Nintendo’s offerings for nearly two decades. The fact most of the company’s first-party titles don’t appeal to me just compounds matters. Still, I’d enjoy those games more if they ran on stronger hardware. Maybe Kirby doesn’t need to be rendered in 4K, but I’d love to see it!

Though I don’t expect Nintendo Switch 2 to feature a dock that boosts graphics and performance, it’s the one thing that’d get me to instantly pre-order Nintendo’s expected handheld/console hybrid. Again, this probably won’t happen, but it’d be awesome if it did. Nintendo loves doing the unexpected, so perhaps my dream isn’t so far-fetched. I might get what I want.

If not, at least I can look forward to the inevitable Steam Deck 2.

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