At present, I’m tearing myself away from Kingdom Come: Deliverance to write this editorial. (Again, full disclosure: I Kickstarted the game). But in doing so, I have yet another article this week inspired by Warhorse’s RPG. Now, while the article last week was directly influenced by the game, this week’s article is influenced more tangentially, in that, it’s reminding me why I love PC gaming.
PC gaming is the only place where you can get the highest possible resolutions, highest possible framerates, and best possible graphics without compromising on any of them. Of course, the retort from console fanboys here is always, “Yeah but it’ll cost you.” While not untrue, it’s also irrelevant to my point.
The point is that PC is the only place where you can have your cake and eat it too. In this argument, cost doesn’t matter. What matters is that this lack of compromise is possible. The technology and openness of the PC platform allow for this.
And this is precisely why, as primarily a PC gamer (note that I said “primarily” because it would be downright farcical of me to claim there are no good games worth playing on console), I have to sit there and laugh to myself whenever I see Microsoft and Sony executives touting resolution and graphics of their machines.
We have to look no further back than the recent launches of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. Looking at the messaging and marketing behind the boxes, there was so much chest-thumping about teraflops, dynamic 4K resolution, and the quality of pixels.
As a PC gamer, I have to just sit there and laugh. These executives are talking about 4K and graphics as if they’re some Biblical revelation, whispered to them by the silicon gods because they are the only ones worthy of providing us mere mortal gamers with high resolutions and cutting-edge visuals.
Of course, as an educated consumer, we know 4K resolution and beautiful graphics are nothing new. We’ve had them on the PC for literal years. But for your average console gamer, the ones that will be most easily influenced by what I consider to be misleading marketing, they will believe Microsoft and Sony. To them, 4K resolution and beautiful graphics are new.
Don’t mistake me here. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate this tech. In fact, I do love HDR as a technology and purchased a PS4 Pro for Horizon Zero Dawn and love the HDR implementation in that game. I also love the genuinely incredible engineering that went into the hardware of the Xbox One X and purchased it because of that exact reason. But as a PC gamer, these things are not exactly a revelatory experience like the executives at Microsoft and Sony would have the average console gamer believe.
For proof of where the messaging and promises of Microsoft and Sony fail, we need only turn to the folks at Digital Foundry. We have countless examples of games on these enhanced consoles failing to run even at a stable 30fps – something that in 2018 should be completely unacceptable, never mind on a so-called premium console.
So then, the chest-thumping from Microsoft and Sony is just that. Chest-Thumping. And this is why I criticize them far more frequently. They have made claims of higher resolutions, visuals, and performance, yet their products consistently fail to live up to those claims. And honestly? As a PC gamer, I find this just sad.
Fallout 4 failing to maintain 30fps on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro
Enter the Nintendo Switch. To the best of my knowledge, Nintendo has never once touted graphics, resolution, nor framerate for the Switch. They simply got on with the job and delivered quality game after quality game.
In other words, unlike Microsoft and Sony, they have nothing to prove from the graphics, resolution, and framerate standpoint. And because of this, I enjoy their games more.
As a PC gamer, if you tell me your machine is the world’s most powerful console, I’m going to hold you to it and look for the performance, resolution, and framerates you bragged about. Personally, I can easily observe those things and can tell if something isn’t native 4K, isn’t 60fps, and has compromised graphics. If you can’t do something so basic as maintain a constant framerate, as has been measured and observed many times, I’m going to call you out. My fun will be negatively affected.
This is a major reason why I love the Switch so much. Because Nintendo haven’t made any grandiose unrealistic claims, I don’t have to sit there and hold their feet to the fire on something they never claimed to deliver. I’m not saying that one mustn’t deliver criticism when criticism is due, but to criticize someone on a claim they never once made doesn’t make sense either.
What the Switch does is simple. It just gets on with the job of playing your games without touting graphics, resolution, or framerate. And this makes these games that much more fun. Of the games I have for the Switch, only two of them don’t run at 60fps (Zelda and Mario+Rabbids). And honestly, even though 60fps is objectively superior and obviously better for gameplay, I’m not even upset that these two games run at 30fps.
Why? Nintendo never once claimed that this machine would deliver the best visuals, resolution, nor framerate. So my expectation of what the machine can actually do is much more tempered and crucially, grounded in reality. It doesn’t have the unrealistic sheen of marketing glazed so heavily across it, warping and twisting my expectation of the machine.
As a PC gamer, then, I love my Switch. It makes no massive promises. It simply provides me with experiences that I just can’t have anywhere else. While Sony and Microsoft do have their exclusives, they’re always anchored by the weight of those horsepower-fueled claims touted by their executives. The Switch isn’t.
Racing around in Mario Kart with my friends, exploring and collecting moons in Mario Odyssey, and positioning Rabbid Peach in just the right spot to heal my party in Mario+Rabbids are just incredible experiences simply not found on the other consoles.
The Switch offers experiences that neither the PS4 nor Xbox can ever offer. It’s not just Nintendo’s suite of excellent games for the Switch, but it’s the device itself that is the experience.
The PS4 and Xbox are shackled to the TV. The Switch? Hell, portability is the selling point. It’s so seductively simple. Put it in the dock for TV, remove from the dock for portable gaming. I find such minimalistic intuition genuinely beautiful.
I can play Kingdom Come: Deliverance on my jacked PC all I want. Then, when I get on a plane to visit Bradford, I take my Switch and boom, I can play Zelda: Breath of the Wild in full fidelity at 30,000 feet.
That feeling of playing the same game on your TV and instantly taking it portable will never get old for me. I’m getting the full Zelda experience on the handheld mode. It’s not some dumbed down mobile version we’re so accustomed to with other portable devices. This is the same Zelda I was playing before on my TV. And now, it’s in my hands at 30,000 feet.
It’s the culmination of these reasons why I truly believe that the Nintendo Switch is the console for PC gamers. It’s not out to prove some obnoxious claim. It just plays games. And what games they are. It offers experiences not provided and not possible by the over-hyped boxes from Microsoft and Sony. It’s a genuinely incredible little machine that brings out the true joy in me whenever I turn it on.
If you’re a PC gamer, buy a Nintendo Switch. I promise you, you won’t regret it.