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What If Zelda: Breath of the Wild's Framerate Issues Are Just Bugs?

While The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is fantastic, the Nintendo Switch version of game has its share of performance and framerate issues, especially between docked TV mode and handheld mode. Speculation has varied on what the issue could be, as it tends to be sporadic, but one developer seems to think it is just programming bugs.

The unnamed developer from Bplus Games told GameSplash that only certain zoom ratios are affected. "Most of the frame-rate issues in Zelda are just programming failures. If Nintendo sets the right people to it they can totally fix them, " the developer is quoted as saying. "Some dev friends and I have the same feeling about that. Because sometimes it is just a specific zoom ratio that makes the frame-rate drop. Just zoom in a bit closer or further away and it runs super smooth. The problem is that the game wants to show both near and far LOD (Level of Detail) objects. This is a frame-rate killer if two objects are in each other. To show that, it would need around 10 times the power. And if you see Kakariko Village, the framerate hell there, and then the more beautiful Hateno Village, which runs super smoothly, you see that doesn’t make sense. So something else is going wrong there."

The dev also said that Nintendo knows about the LOD issue, but hasn't fixed it yet. He explains that in his chats will some Nintendo developers, he found the game originally ran at 60fps, but they didn't want performance fluctuations, so they focused on capping it at 30fps. 

The dev then went on to explain the difference between docked and undocked mode. "A lot of things change between docked mode for Switch, besides the resolution. The distance for LOD’s are changed, the types of texture filters, the distance of texture filters, levels of tri-linear mappings, etc. All depending on graphics. But for example, the zoom ratio of the LODs are changed, which is a coding part. That also would be the issue with the zoom level frame-rate issues. So yes, it is a programming issue in TV mode that doesn’t relate to power."

I don't want to give too much credence to unnamed sources on such specific problems, but it does explain why the framerate drops only at certain times. And if it is something that can be patched, even better.

This also gives rise to the speculation that the Switch version of Breath of the Wild was a rushed port of the Wii U version, although it does run better on Switch. Since Breath of the Wild is the flagship first-party title for the console hybrid, it seems odd that Nintendo would let programming bugs out into the wild to mar the Switch's launch. Granted the performance problems have not been enough to dampen the enthusiasm for Breath of the Wild, but they still exist, and the rushed release of the console to meet the end of Nintendo's fiscal year at the end of this month is a plausible explanation for the game problems and certain hardware issues being allowed to reach consumers.

Whatever the actual explanation, hopefully The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild performance issues are ones that can be fixed with a patch. The sooner the better.

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