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Nintendo finally revealed its new console two weeks ago: the Nintendo Switch. After over a year and a half of waiting, we finally know what the console looks like, what it’s named, and how it will operate. But there are still many questions that need answering. One major one is ‘How powerful is it?’ There are many rumors currently circulating, but we still don’t know for sure exactly what the console’s capabilities are…or do we? Bethesda, confirmed developer for the new system, said something interesting a few months ago. Did they give us a hint as to how powerful Nintendo’s mysterious upcoming system will be?

We’ve been bombarded with rumors and leaks about the Switch since last spring, when its existence was first announced. It’s therefore unsurprising that a monstrous amount of speculation has sprung from the gaming media and community, primarily centered around the console’s capabilities. While Nintendo is no stranger to making powerful hardware, its last four systems have been very modest when it came to horsepower. As a result, many folks simply assumed that the Switch would be no different. Now that it has been revealed to be a handheld/home console hybrid, folks are even more curious as to what it can really do.  Nvidia stepped forward on the day of the system’s reveal to confirm that the Switch is being powered by a Tegra chip. Seeing that Nintendo doesn’t tend to share the official specs of its systems, we may not ever officially know what’s inside the Switch, even after it’s released (just look at the Wii U). Even if that may turn out to be the case, Bethesda may have very well given us a good lead.

Although Nintendo remained mostly quiet throughout the year-and-a-half period between the system’s initial announcement and full reveal, developers were definitely less reticent. During late summer of this year, there were a few comments from companies such as Ubisoft, Take-Two and Bethesda. The latter’s vice-president, Pete Hines, first made mention of the console in an interview with Finder Australia three months ago, where he seemed a little apprehensive about supporting the system. He basically said that it was a ‘maybe’, confirming that the two entities were in frequent communication and that Bethesda was well informed as to what Nintendo was doing. Said Hines: “If the NX fits that from a technical standpoint, and fits the game that a developer in our stable is making, I don’t see why we would not put it out on NX.”

That’s a pretty interesting statement, considering the outcome. But it gets even more interesting. Hines basically added on to that statement about a month later in another interview, this time with Metro UK. He explained that Bethesda had declined to release games on Nintendo platforms in recent years because the hardware had not been up to par, and they didn’t want to water down any of their projects to accommodate. Metro UK then asked if the new Nintendo system were at least as powerful as the Xbox One, would Bethesda then consider it? Hines’s answer: “Then it will absolutely be something that we consider.”

And BOOM goes the dynamite. We have our lead.

u-switch-x-marioBethesda has been apprehensive about Nintendo hardware over the past few years because its been weak, but it looks like the Switch may have comparable power to the competition. 

So, let’s recap:

  1. First, Hines was apprehensive about Bethesda supporting the system, saying that it needed to be technically adequate.
  2. He reaffirmed that statement later on, saying that Bethesda hasn’t developed for Nintendo systems in such a long time was because the systems were too weak.
  3. Finally, he confirmed that if the Switch was at least as powerful as the Xbox One, Bethesda would definitely go through with developing for it.

Well, which game had quite a lot of screen time during the Nintendo Switch’s reveal trailer?  That’s right: none other than Skyrim—one of Bethesda’s most popular games.

Now, this doesn’t confirm that the Switch is in the same league as the Xbox One or PS4, but considering Hines’ comments, it does seem likely. Just as a reminder, all this happened within the span of three months. That’s a mighty short period of time for a mega developer like Bethesda to go from “eh, maybe” to whole-heartedly confirming their support for a new platform, especially one from a company they haven’t worked with in eons. It almost makes it seem like Hines was mischievously toeing the NDA line. I’m not saying that the decision wasn’t made within the last three months, but it just seems really unlikely that Nintendo approached Bethesda at some point during this period, and Bethesda just ended up agreeing despite the short length of time.

Nevertheless, our main concern is the Switch’s power. Seeing that Bethesda and several other high-profile studios are developing for the system, it seems likely that the Switch does pack a decent punch. Now, we know that the Wii U had a similar parade of positive remarks and pledges of support from various developers, but this time is different. Not only are there companies present who weren’t there during the Wii U’s reveal (like Bethesda), there are now even more developers who have stepped forward pledging support than there were back then. While there are very few confirmed titles formally announced so far, the Switch is looking very promising.

Zelda Breath of the Wild - Hyrule FieldKeep in mind that this game will be on the Switch. Does that honestly suggest that the console will be held back in terms of performance?

Take for instance Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This isn’t just the next big Zelda game—it’s Nintendo’s biggest game to date. From both a technical and developmental standpoint, Breath of the Wild is the biggest project the company has produced in pretty much its whole history. All of the footage we’ve seen so far has been from the Wii U version, and it looks absolutely stunning. With that in mind, do you really expect the Switch to be a slouch?

Nintendo has never produced a system weaker than its last, nor one that was weaker than previous-generation hardware. Yes, even the Wii was more capable than the 6th-gen systems. With that in mind, and knowing what we do about Bethesda’s hardware standards, I think it’s safe to assume that the Switch will be on-par with the Xbox One and even maybe the PS4.  Now with the PS4 Pro coming in a few days and the Xbox Scorpio arriving next year, the 8th-generation pretty much just got an extra life. Even if the Switch isn’t as powerful as the newer consoles, that’s okay—it doesn’t have to be. Both Sony and Microsoft have promised that all games will be compatible with both their old and new systems, which means that developers have no choice but to cater to the weaker hardware. So, even if the Switch is closer to the OG PS4 and XBO, it will still be able to run all of this generation’s games as long as support continues for those systems.

Does this guarantee mega third-party support? Of course not. Nintendo home consoles haven’t had decent third-party support since the days of the SNES. I don’t expect the Switch to perform miracles, but I do think it’s a step in the right direction. If it’s managed to convince the likes of Bethesda and Take-Two to take notice and pledge support, it’s safe to assume that this console is attractive to developers. Ubisoft can’t stop gushing about it, for goodness’ sake. I don’t want to jump the gun, but I’ll say this—don’t sleep on the Nintendo Switch.

nintendo-switch-marioI’m sure Nintendo understands it’s in a tight spot. Because of that, this console may just be a total beast. 
A.K Rahming
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.

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