Oh the elusive Switch Pro, a topic that has been debated time and time again - is it coming? "No" screams Nintendo. But, why? The Switch is the natural evolution of the Wii U and the DS, a streamlined handheld that can become a normal, standard console when docked, letting players enjoy the likes of Dark Souls, The Witcher 3, DOOM Eternal, and The Outer Worlds on the go. It shook up the market and put Nintendo back in the game after the Wii U's disastrous run, so why isn't Nintendo going a step further and putting itself into the ballpark of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X?

It's a question that a lot of people have. Sure, getting the benefits of 4k, better hardware, and all the bells and whistles that make the PS5 or Xbox so extraordinary is going to be tough when you consider fitting it into what is essentially a tablet with controllers on the side. However, Nintendo doesn't need to catch up to next-gen. Rather, it needs to leap forward from what the Switch is, and it's feasible too. Like the PS4 Pro, they could utilise AI-based 4k and offer better hardware that may not even be up to scratch with the PS4 or Xbox One, but enough so that titles from other platforms can look a little better and handle smoother when ported. That said, the Switch Pro could use the DLSS 2.0, as right now it uses the outdated Tegra. NVIDIA describe this as a "big leap in AI rendering," utilising processors called Tensor Cores from the GeForce RTX GPUs themselves, giving access to... ray-tracing. Yep, a Switch that utilised this AI-based hardware could have the performance to access some next-gen features on a handheld of all things. That would well and truly make the Switch a staple console on par with PlayStation and Xbox in a much shorter timeframe.

So, why hasn't it been done? There's leaks galore, rumours abound, denial every single time, but the Switch is nearing the end of its run - Nintendo has said it won't sport the "usual lifespan," but what that truly means is up in the air - could that hint to a pro model like it extended with the lite? What's next for Nintendo isn't clear, but the Switch is the perfect system to build their future on, and it shouldn't be a highlight in a sea of mediocrity. Forget the next gimmick, Nintendo should bank on a Switch 2 or a Switch Pro, taking note from PlayStation and Xbox - just hopefully not in Microsoft's naming habits.

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But, why? Sure, nicer graphics, smoother gameplay, and maybe even a bigger screen all sound good, but what does that actually look like when you apply it to other titles? Well, take for instance the render distance of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - the game is beautiful, no doubting that, but imagine being able to see the distant landscapes with even better visual fidelity - eye watering. Or, imagine the potential for other games to be ported like Red Dead Redemption 2. It's currently somewhat of a headache getting your title to run smoothly on a Switch, which is why you don't see every single new triple-A title bothering to come to the platform. Call of Duty isn't on the main store, neither is Cyberpunk 2077, and Hitman 3 relies on internet-based cloud streaming (something most internet connections aren't ready for, and something some regions can't even use yet), but picture having these new titles alongside the likes of Mario, Zelda, Pokémon, Animal Crossing, and all the other flagship titles that ultimately sell Nintendo as a brand.

So, it'd be good, benefit the consumer, definitely cost more, but it's idealistic, a pipe dream... right? No, not exactly. You see, the Switch the way it is now is because of Nvidia, that sparkly gaming brand that make graphics cards for PC that let you have next-gen lighting techniques and play all your games in ultra graphics if you fork out the cash, and guess what they did in 2020? They made a pro version of their Shield TV and it got rave reviews. To top it off, there's tech in the first party games that utilise dynamic resolution, and these would automatically be upscaled to 4k, meaning that you could enjoy the fruits of Breath of the Wild in a crisper resolution.

Image Credit: IGN

When you look at the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, you see exciting potential in new features, new possibilities. Ray-tracing is likely out of the question given the desire to make the Switch a handheld system too - something that absolutely should be retained - but even Xbox saw the adaptive triggers of the new PlayStation controllers and found themselves jealous. Nintendo doesn't compete with the others, that's known - it's always been that way - but to say the Switch didn't learn anything from the gaming market as it is today would be to lie plainly, so why shouldn't it improve its controllers to boot? That drift is horrendous, they could do with a little more weight, maybe be a little nicer to hold, and they definitely could utilise the likes of haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. All in all, the Pro model could add a lot of new features, but why stop there? It could also refine and perfect what's already there - after all, Nintendo is facing lawsuit after lawsuit with its god-awful drift.

For now, we have the upcoming new Switch model which gives us a bigger screen. Sure, it's a step up, and that's great, but a native 4k home menu and some new Pro features to boot would be nice. As it stands, Samsung's new screen feels like a taster, one I'd rather not invest in since it's probably best just to wait for the hypothetical that might happen. Is it likely? Well, it's a maybe. Publicly, they deny it at every turn, but behind the scenes? There's lots to indicate something is in the works. It wouldn't have to compete with the other giants either, as it could simply be a means to get more games on the store while also improving their own titles - it doesn't have to be next-gen, as stated earlier, just Nintendo's own step forward, and wouldn't that be swell?

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