Zelda - Quality vs. Performance
Image: Nintendo Life

Since the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launched in 2013, gamers have increasingly been given the option to tweak their experiences based on whether they prefer higher image quality or smoother performance.

Not all developers offer this, but now that we're more than three-and-a-half years into the lifespan of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, player expectations have adjusted accordingly to the point where it almost feels mandatory to include 'Quality' and 'Performance' options in the biggest games on those platforms. It's why you see almost constant requests for a re-release of Bloodborne, a game that is infamously capped at 30fps on PS4, with Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption 2 being a close second.

With the upcoming reveal and launch of Nintendo's next major hardware (which, as usual, we'll refer to as 'Switch 2'), the general expectation is that its performance will be comparable to that of the PS4 and Xbox One, albeit with (potentially) some DLSS upscaling and ray tracing involved. If the rumours are to be believed, Nintendo could be approaching 'Quality vs. Performance' territory with the Switch 2.

Now, we should clarify here that this is an area in which the current Switch has already dipped its toes: games like GRID Autosport and House of the Dead: Remake feature performance modes, while The Witcher III allows players to customise various bits and bobs within the options to improve the gameplay experience. So while we can probably safely assume that third parties like Square Enix, Capcom, and Activision Blizzard will offer various toggles to alter their games' performance on Switch 2, should we expect Nintendo to do the same with its first-party lineup? Furthermore, would we even want it?

If we're being honest, Nintendo doesn't strike us as the kind of publisher to include performance toggles within its games. We're certain many enthusiasts would welcome them, but when you consider how popular Nintendo continues to be with more casual audiences, we wouldn't be surprised if they were omitted for simplicity and approachability's sake.

That's the thing with Nintendo: it's always done what it wants to do, external influence be damned. So if it thinks that a beautiful new Zelda game locked at 30fps is the way to go, then that's what we'll end up with. We could imagine certain subsidiaries like Retro Studios or Next Level Games making use of performance options, but beyond that? Nah.

Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze
Image: Nintendo

Nintendo is smart, and it will always put gameplay above all else when developing its games. We don't doubt for one minute that the company has been keeping an eye on the exhausting discourse surrounding visuals in the modern era, and we suspect it will continue to distance itself from such conversations.

Our guess? Nintendo will aim to get as many of its first-party games at a solid 60fps wherever it can and take a minor hit on visuals. To be fair, this seems to be its general MO on the Switch already - games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 3, Mario Party Superstars, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze all run at 1080p/60fps when docked.

It wouldn't surprise us if games of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom's scope got a frame rate boost, but even with its more stylised visuals, the sheer breadth of that game was simply too much for the humble Switch in 2023. This, hopefully, won't be a problem for the upcoming successor, but even so, we don't see Nintendo offering the option to switch between preferring visuals or frame rate in-game.

But what do we know? We'd love to hear what you folks think about this. Would you like to see quality and performance options in Nintendo's Switch 2 games? Given the choice, do you lean towards visuals or frame rate? Let us know your thoughts by voting in the below poll and elaborating with a comment.

Would you want 'Quality' and 'Performance' options in Nintendo's Switch 2 games?
Given the choice between crisper visuals or a higher frame rate, which is more important to you?