What to expect from the upcoming release
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has now gone gold and is releasing on the 12th of May 2023. It’s safe to say the hype for most people is real, as it won the “Most Anticipated Game” during the Game Awards last year. This is also the longest we’ve gone without a sequel to a Zelda game since the first game was released in 1986.
We’ve now seen extended gameplay footage of the new abilities and the gameplay itself looks great. It features a variety of new mechanics, as well as general improvements from Breath Of The Wild, and the new abilities look awesome. It’s clear to me that the current generation of Zelda games is designed to allow for incredibly emergent gameplay, at a never before seen scale, which is something that’s currently lacking in a lot of the triple-A games of today. The potential is massive, and it’s up to the players to fulfill that potential however they see fit. Of course, there will be a natural storyline and objectives to follow throughout the game, but it’s up to you to utilize the tools at your disposal, as you traverse through the land and skies of Hyrule.
So what’s the problem?
As a game designer, I find the creative direction behind The Legend of Zelda games to be truly incredible. The games have evolved so much over the years, and the level of game design is absolutely fantastic. The games are instantly recognizable from their aesthetic to world design and have made great leaps in gaming.
However, as much as I want to be excited, there’s just one thing holding me, and in my opinion the game, back… That is of course the ancient technology we call the Nintendo Switch. In terms of performance expectations for Tears Of The Kingdom, I expect it will play similarly to Breath of The Wild, which ran at a 900p resolution while docked, and 720p resolution when handheld. More importantly, it, unfortunately, ran at 30FPS, and would sometimes even dip below 30 frames per second.
Tears of The Kingdom has been natively created and designed for Switch which is promising, but it’s also built on the same engine as Breath of The Wild. This is which is why I don’t expect any substantial performance changes. Additionally, according to Nintendo’s listing, Tears of the Kingdom’s file size will be 18.2 GB, which is one of the biggest games that Nintendo itself has released for the Switch. I expect part of this is higher resolution textures, shaders, improved lighting and particle effects, etc. As a result of this, I think it’s likely we will still just see the Switch attempt to maintain its 30 frames as a goal, at the same resolution. Which to me is unfortunate.
If the current generation of switch supported DLSS technology, I could definitely see a world where we could see 60fps for the new game, but we already know this isn’t possible for the current hardware. There have been rumors of a Switch Pro in the works, fully capable of this, but nothing has been confirmed.
Does it really matter?
To me, it feels like wasted potential in a way. While I definitely think the game will be incredible, and I have hopes that Tears Of The Kingdom will be better optimized and therefore run smoother than previous iterations, I just can’t stop thinking about what the game could have been. Imagine what Tears of The Kingdom could look like, run like, and more importantly feel like on the hardware of a more powerful console like the PS5, or a gaming PC. The technology is there, the question is just what will it take for Nintendo to utilize it.
What are your thoughts on this? Are you excited for Tears of The Kingdom? Do you think the game will be held back by hardware limitations? Let me know in the comments below.
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