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

Optimization issues could be at the heart of the game's performance drops.

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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.

Contributing Editor

From The Chatty

  • reply
    March 23, 2017 10:15 AM

    John Keefer posted a new article, What If Zelda: Breath of the Wild's Framerate Issues Are Just Bugs?

    • reply
      March 23, 2017 12:48 PM

      Yeah I don't think so.

      The LOD code has to be same for the Wii U and the Switch. There is no way the Switch version is a totally different engine/game its pretty clear its a port. Sure, the LOD may be set higher for the Switch version but that is all, and that would just be an adjustable value that scales the LOD code.

      It be cool if they could magically fix the game but I doubt that will happen. Magically fixing 15 fps and 30 fps to a new target of 60 fps is a massive fix and gain. If they can fix it so drastically they would of have to really screwed up their code, I doubt that. In my opinion it would have to be a massive LOD re write or what ever is the core problem is, and it may just not be doable. Its not like the team are a bunch of armatures, so to get such crazy performance improvements is highly un likely at this point.

      We may have to just accept the Switch is under powered and appreciate it for what it is.

      Don't get me wrong I would love it if they would magically fix it but its been in dev for a very long time. Do we really think they where like, “eh it runs badly… what ever ship it”. I doubt they do not know it runs at such low FPS and spikes all over the place and has major performance issues. They would of have known by now during all those years of dev and surely tried to investigate and fixed the performance issue by now.

      Also Nintendo could easily say “Hey, we ported the Switch version in 6 months we are aware of the performance issues we are working on a fix.” Since they did not issue such a comment I am sure they can’t fix it. Just look at the crazy stuff with Masseffect, the company issued a statement pretty fast I am sure Nintendo would of done the same by now.

      Who knows?

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        March 23, 2017 1:12 PM

        It doesn't even look like a typical framerate issue to me, mainly because of how it'll dip and then stabilise without a change in camera direction. If anything it's a caching problem that could either be due to poor optimisation or just a lack of memory.

        Personally the framerate stuff doesn't even bother me. I've been playing games on multiple platforms since the 80's, so a framerate dip isn't anything new and just doesn't even factor into my enjoyment of the game.

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          March 23, 2017 1:25 PM

          Yeah I agree with you, the game is awesome and that is what is important. I seriously doubt hey can fix it.

          Really in my perfect world Nintendo would of launched the Switch during this years E3 or if needed during this Christmas season and it would of had the Tegra X2(Pascal) in it and they would charge an extra $100.

          With the Tegra X2 in the Switch and more than double the specs, extra battery life, etc it would of potentially made it the greatest console ever made.

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        March 23, 2017 1:20 PM

        If they can fix it so drastically they would of have to really screwed up their code

        WOULD OF HAVE
        WOULDVE HAVE
        WOULDVE
        this makes me do the little eye twitch thing

      • reply
        March 23, 2017 1:41 PM

        Nintendo had a hard deadline of March 3rd to launch Zelda alongside the Switch. The developers might have known about the issues and yes let that slide since it was "good enough". Doesn't seem surprising at all.

      • reply
        March 23, 2017 5:08 PM

        Valcan I love you but you have no idea how any of this works in the real world.

        • reply
          March 23, 2017 6:28 PM

          Your right, its not like like I know how to make a modern game engine or video game.

          I really should stop commenting on this stuff.

    • reply
      March 23, 2017 1:37 PM

      That title should be updated to something like "... Just Software Bugs" because the problem is either software or hardware bugs. One could be fixed, the other couldn't.

      That said, it seems highly unlikely that it's a hardware issue.

    • reply
      March 23, 2017 3:04 PM

      PC Master race will just brute Force it!

      • reply
        March 23, 2017 3:27 PM

        The cemu people have like 25k monthly patreon income because of this game alone.

        I'm super glad that cemu exists but it kinda irks me that its closed source and people who have been slaving away on the dolphin emu for free and open source get the short end of the stick.

        You have people doing full blown retexturing work for windwaker used here https://youtu.be/LxFcHI02JuI
        and only have $15 patreon support http://onthegreatsea.tumblr.com/tagged/Comparison-shots

        • reply
          March 23, 2017 4:51 PM

          The next release should have even more stuff fixed, most noticably the grass

          • reply
            March 23, 2017 4:55 PM

            yep, video out yesterday showed grass, water, and most other things working now

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            March 23, 2017 5:13 PM

            They probably will beat their own projection of 2-4 months by like 3 months if things progress by the current pace, its super impressive if you look at how the game would barely boot into the menu a few weeks ago.
            I also was fully expecting for nintendo to throw a curveball and implementing an insane amount of obscure random/weird hardware calls to fuck with emulation. They must be aware of the project.

        • reply
          March 23, 2017 4:54 PM

          government should really regulate these guys, to make it more fair

          • reply
            March 23, 2017 5:09 PM

            I wanted to ask what the shit you are on but fuck it its a waste of time.

    • reply
      March 23, 2017 3:59 PM

      What if farts smelled like freshly buttered popcorn?

    • reply
      March 23, 2017 4:00 PM

      What if we're all figments of some aliens imagination?

    • reply
      March 23, 2017 5:05 PM

      I have assumed for a long time now it's mainly an issue from the port from Wii U to Switch. I mean the switch's hardware is not crazy good compared to the PS4 or Xbox one even, but it's way better than the Wii U and really feels like an optimization thing when the frame rate gets hit.

    • reply
      March 23, 2017 6:50 PM

      The AHCA has a 17% approval rating from Quinnipiac. I don't know if that's an outlier or what, but it seems awfully low.

      However, the bill has a real chance of passing tomorrow in the House. With fewer than a quarter of Americans approving of it.

      Who are these Representatives actually representing?