Zelda: Breath of the Wild runs better on Switch than on Wii U, might output in 900p in docked mode

Faster load times, higher resolution, and better sound quality, according to producer Eiji Aonuma.

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Long-time Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma told IGN that Breath of the Wild runs better on Nintendo Switch than on Wii U.

"I think I mentioned this during E3, but the gameplay is completely the same experience on Wii U and the Nintendo Switch," Aonuma said. "The game controls for the two are pretty much identical. However, when you play in TV mode, the resolution of the screen and the sound quality go up."

Despite a difference in resolution, Zelda: Breath of the Wild's framerate holds steady on both the Switch and Wii U. "When I said earlier that the gameplay and game experience is the same, I meant the framerate is the same as well," Aonuma went on.

Legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto chimed in. "The world in Breath of the Wild is all seamless. There’s a lot of processing when [the game] needs to recreate the landscape, so that’s a little bit of challenge. But while you’re playing it there’s no difference whatsoever between the two."

When asked if Switch owners would see any other performance gains, Aonuma said that Zelda loads faster on Switch than on Wii U since data loads faster from game cards than optical media.

One particular of Zelda's performance on Switch has caused a good deal of chatter over the last two days. A report made by Switch showcase attendee Oscar Yasser—founder of press outlet Atomix and currently a "tech entrepreneur"—claims that a Nintendo rep told him during his hands-on Switch demo that Breath of the Wild outputs at 900p in TV (or "docked") mode.

Nintendo has confirmed that Zelda runs at 720p on Switch when played on the portable.

Yasser's report has been referenced by other outlets including IGN and Eurogamer. Nintendo has confirmed that Switch games running in docked mode can output at up to 1080p, leaving room for speculation that more resource-intensive titles might come in under the resolution ceiling.

Meanwhile, Eurogamer reported that a Nintendo rep told them that they're shooting to hit a steady 1080p/60fps on Breath of the Wild for Switch, although the outlet also alludes to Yasser's report.

Zelda will launch on March 3, day and date with the Switch. Assuming Yasser's report pans out, it's possible that Breath of the Wild does output at 900p right now, and that Nintendo is still nailing optimization, although it would be cutting things close given the logistics involved in pressing game cards and discs and packaging them in time to ship out for release.

Long Reads Editor

From The Chatty

    • reply
      January 14, 2017 8:10 AM

      Despite a difference in framerate, Zelda: Breath of the Wild's framerate holds steady on both the Switch and Wii U. "When I said earlier that the gameplay and game experience is the same, I meant the framerate is the same as well," Aonuma went on.

      Wait, huh?

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        January 14, 2017 8:14 AM

        That should say resolution. I'm pretty tired from the last two days of news! Should be fixed.

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      January 14, 2017 8:56 AM

      Don't care, the game looks amazing. Happy the framerate is their priority.

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      January 14, 2017 10:12 AM

      Curious why the audio would be different. Nvidia has built-in audio, does it? Why would there be a different? I assume it's a different mix rate, but I wouldn't think the processing difference would be that large to make a difference in power consumption.

      I'm sure some YT blogers will give us the dets in 7 weeks.

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        January 14, 2017 10:15 AM

        Probably stereo vs 5.1 output over HDMI??

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          January 14, 2017 10:16 AM

          Ah, yeah. Hadn't thought about that. I'd be okay with that.

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      January 14, 2017 10:28 AM

      I'm impressed they do 60 fps on both versions.

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        January 14, 2017 11:27 AM

        Nintendo is THE company that understands the importance and how to do great consistent visuals and accurate mechanics at 60fps.

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          January 14, 2017 9:19 PM

          Did you misspel Platinum Games?

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        January 14, 2017 2:16 PM

        It's not going to be 60fps. That has to be a typo. All consoles Zeldas since Ocarina of Time have been 30fps.

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          January 14, 2017 2:44 PM

          That makes more sense, thanks.

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          January 14, 2017 2:59 PM

          It's not a typo. Eurogamer said in their video that Nintendo wanted to hit 1080/60.

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            January 14, 2017 3:03 PM

            In going to wait on Digital Foundry to confirm. There is no question that the Switch version is much smoother than the Wii U's but 30fps will be the target. Nothing I've played or seen even suggests that they're uncapping for 60.

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              January 14, 2017 3:05 PM

              https://youtu.be/4liEfuFvIqE but followed up with Regarding the resolution, we were told the game will aim for 1080/60 in docked mode by one of the Nintendo reps at today's event, although reports suggest it might actually be 900/30. in the comments later

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              January 14, 2017 3:05 PM

              And as someone else pointed out, every 3D Zelda game since Wind Waker has been 30fps (the N64 games were 15-20fps)

    • reply
      January 14, 2017 10:48 AM

      This is a pretty confusing article, David. Can somebody just make a summary table listing resolution and framerate for Wii U, Switch portable, and Switch docked? Or do we simply not know the real Wii U specs yet?

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        January 14, 2017 11:46 AM

        we don't know the Switch specs yet. everything is assumed at the moment. undocked can be up to 720p while docked can be up to 1080p

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        January 14, 2017 11:51 AM

        DF just put up a video/analysis thing and they say it's 720p and "almost" locked 30 fps in handheld mode, and 900p and "almost" locked 30 fps in docked mode. "Almost" apparently means one of their players saw one frame drop in ~20 minutes of playing.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ktFlmH_0CI

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          January 14, 2017 11:55 AM

          Yeah Giant Bomb said the demo was ”pretty framey" at times. And the trailer they showed reflected that. Since they need to be gold pretty soon for physical copies I'm very curious to see how this turns out.

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            January 14, 2017 12:12 PM

            If you watch the DF video they explain it well, the drops seem to only rarely happen. It is noticeable but the game is overall pretty smooth, not pretty framey.

            Granted they could be worse or better in the final game, they were limited in the demo where you could go and stuff like that.

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          January 14, 2017 12:09 PM

          This video is highly informative. It confirms the 900p and framerate.

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          January 14, 2017 3:09 PM

          This is way more consistent than the Wii U version. Rock solid 30fps compared to the frequent drops I saw at E3 and the demo they showed at The Game Awards. Only makes sense since the Switch is like 3x faster

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            January 15, 2017 1:14 AM

            Well, the Switch version could be further along. They didn't show the current Wii U version, did they? At least I hope they can level out the performance a bit more, since I'll likely get it for the U.

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        January 14, 2017 12:02 PM

        tldr: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJXpZLLebLg

        wiiu looked pretty meh during the wake up sequence but the outside shots were fine.

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        January 14, 2017 12:17 PM

        Zelda's resolution has been confirmed (see posts below), but I was just going to say that this topic is inherently confusing because resolution and frame rate seem to fluctuate--not only between docked and portable modes, but game to game.

        Switch renders at up to 1080p when docked, 720p in portable mode. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe runs at 1080p/60 docked (confirmed by Nintendo), whereas Zelda apparently caps at 900p when docked. But that could change since there's still a short window of time to optimize the game before release.

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          January 14, 2017 12:20 PM

          Er, see posts above, I mean. Man I am tired and sore today.

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          January 14, 2017 2:00 PM

          Mario Kart looked so smooth in the footage

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            January 14, 2017 3:01 PM

            Mario Kart DX is one example of a Switch title that will run at 1080/60. That's direct info from Nintendo. It will remain at 60fps foe up to players; at three or more the frame rate drops to 30 but holds steady.

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      January 14, 2017 12:21 PM

      Still going to buy it on Wii u since I have sitting in my living room. Seems like getting a switch is going to be a gong show till the summer

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      January 14, 2017 1:12 PM

      I don't care. It is fun and I wish I was playing it right now.

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        January 14, 2017 1:54 PM

        Agreed!

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        January 14, 2017 1:57 PM

        Yeah...I think I'm scheduling a long weekend for release date.

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        January 14, 2017 2:43 PM

        I want to play :(

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        January 14, 2017 9:07 PM

        Agreed. Caring about hardware specs with a Nintendo system is pointless.

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          January 14, 2017 9:08 PM

          I think touting console hardware specs is laughable in general because PC master race and whatnot. At least Nintendo is not afraid to do something different.

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            January 14, 2017 9:10 PM

            Counterpoint. Sony and Microsoft aren't afraid to do anything different either. They're just comfortable delivering what people actually want.

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              January 14, 2017 9:12 PM

              It's not really what I want, though. I already have a PC that beats everything else. Nintendo offers something different.

              In the prior generation, I had every system. PS3, 360, Wii and then Wii U.

              Neither the PS4 or Xbone have anything compelling when my PC can game like it does.

              Nintendo offers something else.

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                January 14, 2017 9:30 PM

                I agree with you. But they could _still_ offer that something else and not make bonehead hardware decisions again and again (and again and again).

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                  January 14, 2017 9:30 PM

                  Not at a price point that makes sense, they couldn't.

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                    January 14, 2017 9:31 PM

                    Or at least, what you consider 'bonehead hardware decisions'.

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                      January 14, 2017 9:39 PM

                      1) They could have thought better than to try to Frankenstein their handheld and home lines into one, resulting in a new system for $200.

                      2) They could have cut out all the useless tech inside the joycons and resulted in a system for $200.

                      3) They could deliver a *competitive* console and put it out at whatever price point they so choose.

                      ---

                      Several options, none of which were "put out the worst of both worlds and price it too high to gain traction"

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                        January 14, 2017 9:40 PM

                        You say 'thought better', but plenty of us here see this as a smart move.

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                January 14, 2017 9:51 PM

                I think it's even worse now that the consoles are x86 systems so there's virtually no difference between them and a low/mid spec PC.

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              January 14, 2017 9:15 PM

              You really want to be in Microsoft's corner when it comes to hardware? Okay.

              Sony makes fine products from time to time and the PS4 had been a solid one, but it is just silly to act like these things are better than the average Shacker's PC.

              Nintendo has had quite a bit of work experience when it comes to making successful handhelds, with 3DS selling 60 million units as a recent example.

              I am not here to argue, but man you are touting Microsoft hardware. LOL. The Xbox One S exists because they failed to do exactly what you said. They didn't deliver what people wanted with the original Xbox One.

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                January 14, 2017 9:21 PM

                Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but most shackers have shit for pc. There's less than 60 dudes here with a pc worth a damn.

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                  January 14, 2017 9:27 PM

                  There are more than 60 Shackers? Woo hoo!

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                  January 14, 2017 9:28 PM

                  Steam hardware survey tells us that there are a huge number of people with a PC more powerful than an Xbone or PS4, regardless of what the shack does or doesn't have.

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                    January 14, 2017 9:35 PM

                    What does "huge" mean? Certainly not relative to the number of PS4s and Xbones out there.

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                      January 14, 2017 9:38 PM

                      Steam has over 125 million active users, 49% of which are on Windows 10, well over half of those having 8GB of ram or better with a graphics card at least comparable to what you'll find in consoles.

                      So yes, it's huge, by any measure.

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                        January 14, 2017 9:39 PM

                        Nah, let's act like consoles are cutting edge...

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                          January 14, 2017 9:45 PM

                          There are 60 million Xbones and ps4's out there. That's just about the same as conan's number of Windows 10 users. And I'd be skeptical that all those windows 10 users have graphics cards equivalent to this console generation.

                          Furthermore, don't think I ever claimed either the ps4 or Xbone was "cutting edge" or anything of the sort (please fact check me if you want). First of all, those are what, four year old systems? The next iteration of both systems certainly approaches "cutting edge," but I'm a PC master race guy myself so it's not like I'm naive here.

                          In any case, the Switch is waaaay behind, and that's what we're talking about here. Briefcase you and I both agree the thing is overpriced. I just happen to believe the problems run deeper than that.

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                            January 14, 2017 9:49 PM

                            You can be skeptical or whatever you want, Valve publishes their data; you can go look.

                            I said huge, I didn't say majority or anything else.

                            The simple fact is it's a substantial market and a large number of people. I don't know what you're arguing with.

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                              January 14, 2017 9:55 PM

                              I don't know what I'm arguing with either. Briefcase brought up the idea of the average shacker's PC and I'm not sure why.

                              All I'm arguing is that Nintendo has blown it once again. They're going to lose out to Sony and to Microsoft (and as you point out, to a burgeoning PC gaming scene as well!)

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                                January 14, 2017 9:56 PM

                                No, that's not at all what I pointed out. Why would they enter an already saturated market there?

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                                  January 15, 2017 1:58 AM

                                  Getting into that fight from the position they're in while ignoring their strengths makes no sense

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                            January 14, 2017 9:53 PM

                            "There are 60 million Xbones and ps4's out there."

                            So the solution for Nintendo is to release a third shitty PC into a market that is already saturated, all while tossing away a handheld market that they dominate? That makes no sense.

                            And before people throw out iPhones and Android phones as a counterpoint, the best selling game of the holidays and the fastest in Nintendo's history was on their handheld. I keep saying this but not addressing such an important part of their audience is bonkers.

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                              January 14, 2017 10:31 PM

                              Whether it's saturated or not is a matter of pure speculation. Put out something that makes people go wow, and I think Nintendo could sell 30 or 40 million units. Maybe not enough to beat Sony *this* generation, but enough to start solidifying third party relationships and a larger, devoted fan base.

                              The Wii u sold, what? 15 million. I could see the switch selling 20 or 25, but that's of course cannibalizing any current or future mobile console sales they might have had.

                              And to consolidate with a post of yours below: I don't think Nintendo considers going head to head with Sony "playing it safe." I think they are desperate for a hit and if they could just play it safe they would. I believe they *don't* think they can compete with Sony (and MS) and so they keep trying to attack the problem from the side. Why they have so little confidence in themselves in a head-to-head fight is strange, but it's a peculiar characteristic and I think speaks to the leadership problems inside the company.

                              • reply
                                January 14, 2017 11:44 PM

                                Again, you are missing the reasons and potential for the device. Consolidating development teams on one platform instead of two means that past software release droughts on one system or the others are gone because everyone is targeting one machine.

                                More importantly, an inexpensive hybrid also makes it so that it is supported by Nintendo's massive handheld audience. Whenever Pokemon comes out it will almost certainly be accompanied by either a price drop or a stripped down package. Either way, their handheld audience is on lockdown and not addressing it doesn't even seem like its a choice.

                                "Why they have so little confidence in themselves in a head-to-head fight is strange"

                                Nobody wins or disrupts a market by taking on the market leader head-to-head. Apple didn't become the most valuable computer company in the world by trying to win the desktop.

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                                January 15, 2017 12:36 AM

                                its gonna sell at least 50 million in its lifetime. those portable kids eat up monster hunter and pokemon

                                • reply
                                  January 15, 2017 1:55 AM

                                  And those portable kids are going to bolster the platform for people who want to buy things like 3D Mario games, Zelda, etc

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                January 14, 2017 9:34 PM

                I am completely agnostic when it comes to Microsoft's hardware decisions. I've never owned a MS console (nor a Sony, for that matter). However, I do think that those two companies know what they're doing in the console space a whole lot better than Nintendo does.

                I'm a lifelong Nintendo devotee, but my lover jilted with me with the Wii and has doubled (and now tripled) down on it since.

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                  January 14, 2017 9:46 PM

                  The Wii U was partially a pivot back to core gaming from the Wii with games like SM3DW, Splatoon, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, Bayonetta 2, and Xenoblade Chronicles X. The Switch is going farther with the first sandbox Mario game in fifteen years.

                  Comparing their systems with the Wii when the main franchise games have gotten more focused and more hardcore makes zero sense, especially if you don't have a PlayStation or Xbox.

                  Until this point I figured you were a PlayStation or Xbox only dude. Not having a PC and being able to afford only one console is literally the only legit excuse for your argument. The games aren't the problem, not with the path they've taken in the last five years.

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                    January 14, 2017 9:52 PM

                    Serp, the games on the Wii u were stellar from everything I've heard, you're exactly right.

                    But the thing was a dud from the presentation. Everyone knew that tablet/controller was a bad decision. And it meant the Wii u was $100 overpriced and dead before it arrived. They're walking down the same path again...

                    Real innovation? Bring it. I'd pay $1000 for a bleeding edge Nintendo VR console. Reheated motion gimmicks that were played out 8 years ago? Don't try to sell me that. I don't love Mario that much.

            • reply
              January 14, 2017 9:40 PM

              "Why have two shitty PCs on the market when we can have three?"

              The idea that MIcrosoft is all companies is innovative in the console arena is ridiculous. The only innovative thing they're doing right now is rolling Windows 10 into their publishing business. Too bad they cancel anything not Gears or Halo.

              Sony got to the position they're in is by playing things absolutely safe. I can't fault them though, they've executed well and even after lots of scaling back and layoffs they still have a few studios doing interesting work.

              Comparing the bold moves, risks, and true innovation of Nintendo against those other companies makes no sense. If you want to say that they play things very safe and expected, sure, absolutely.

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                January 14, 2017 9:44 PM

                Remember when Xbox One took over the living room with the power of Television? Such innovative! Very Courage!

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                  January 14, 2017 9:48 PM

                  Innovative? Who ever used that word? I'm here defending myself against things I haven't said.

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                    January 14, 2017 9:49 PM

                    I am not saying you said that. I am making fun of Microsoft. Kinda my M O. I am gonna go to bed now. My eyeballs are throbbing and I am coughing up some yellow stuff.

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                    January 14, 2017 9:56 PM

                    Misreading on the phone, my apology. In that case, why is being conservative a good thing? A game industry without innovation from one of the few companies that actually does it would be much poorer.

                    We already have two companies playing it completely safe. Who cares?

        • reply
          January 15, 2017 12:08 AM

          In this case it is handy to know the difference between the 2 versions of zelda because it may or may not be worth buying the system to play it depending on how it actually compares.

    • reply
      January 14, 2017 1:59 PM

      Ahh the 900p generation.

      Looks fine on my 1080 TV, but when I hook 900p games up to my monitor and play closer, it is really obvious it isn't native 1080p

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        January 14, 2017 3:12 PM

        It will be their last.

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          January 14, 2017 3:15 PM

          Actually I'm waiting for the astroneer lololololol

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      January 14, 2017 2:34 PM

      They could make the carts at the current(ish) specification, and then have patch for a optimizations later.

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        January 14, 2017 3:02 PM

        That's true. That might have to be their plan at this point. Launch is 6-7 weeks out; they've gotta be close to hitting certification.

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      January 14, 2017 9:17 PM

      I've heard the opposite was true. Confused now

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      January 15, 2017 1:03 AM

      Don’t care, still bought it already for Wii U.