Elise Favis and Gene Park
THE WASHINGTON POST – In its three years of existence, the Nintendo Switch has defied expectations with surprisingly powerful technology, letting you play on the go the open-world games that were normally restricted to high-performance PCs and home consoles.
We’ve seen the first portable versions of Skyrim, LA Noire and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, among other titles, ported to the Switch in a fairly robust and faithful fashion.
But now that we know the Switch can run open-world titles smoothly, we want more.
Below we’ve listed 10 games we’re hoping will eventually make the jump to the console.
Keep in mind, this list is restricted to multiplatform games, since it’s unlikely that exclusives such as Horizon Zero Dawn or Spider-Man jump to the platform.
Grand Theft Auto V
Despite releasing seven years ago, Grand Theft Auto V remains the single most profitable game in human history, according to Market Watch. So why isn’t it on the Nintendo Switch?
The Switch seems more than capable of running the game, which was first released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Since then, the Witcher 3, a more technically impressive game with a much larger map, has been ported to the Switch and runs just fine.
Now, GTA 5’s continued success has a lot to do with its online component, which has kept players invested (literally, spending billions of real dollars) throughout the years. The Switch’s online experience can be famously unreliable. But even a port of the long-forgotten story mode would be a real treat, since it offers dozens of hours of story and three different playable protagonists.
Outside of some outdated pop culture references (no one talks about hipsters anymore), Rockstar’s South Park-like skewering of the early 2010s has aged remarkably well, considering we’re still dealing with the ramifications of Silicon Valley’s “disruption”, irrational fears about immigration, and pay-to-win mobile games.
The base game, after all, launched first without GTA Online, and it still sold like gangbusters. The Switch needs more solid open-world crime simulators; Rockstar’s LA Noire is more of an adventure title. A one-way ticket to Los Santos would be an immediate correction.
Far Cry 3
Ubisoft’s long-running series has taken us all over the world and even to different points in history, but 2012’s Far Cry 3 may be its best outing. Ubisoft has refined and polished the open-world model in subsequent games, but what makes Far Cry 3 stand out is its fantastic, subversive storytelling. And that’s mostly thanks to its villain, the teetering-toward-lunacy Vaas, whose commentary on insanity makes you rethink the relationship between good and evil.
While Far Cry 3’s biggest strength is its story, that doesn’t mean Rook Island isn’t a thrill to explore.Ravaged by lawless pirates, the island has madness at every turn. Traversal is also one of the best parts: Gliding around in a wingsuit and maneuvering jeeps makes Far Cry 3 a wild ride.
Ubisoft has already ported some of its games to Nintendo Switch, including the open-world Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, which is also several years old. Because Far Cry 3 is smaller than a lot of modern open world games, such as Breath of the Wild, it’s not much of a stretch that it could join the Switch roster.
No Man’s Sky
Hello Games has struggled to get this title running on high-end PCs, let alone baseline PlayStation 4 consoles. It’ll be a tall order to port a game that creates a procedurally-generated universe (literally a near-endless universe) onto Nintendo’s little console.
But indie developer Hello Games has become a smarter, more capable group of developers since the early days of No Man Sky’s rough launch. And there are many graphical compromises that could be made to the game because it isn’t exactly a title that thrives on fidelity. Nintendo players would adore the experience of flying and exploring an unknown universe with a customised spaceship. They’ve already gotten a taste of it with Ubisoft’s Starlink: Battle for Atlas, a spaceship game that allows you to seamlessly fly in and out of planetary atmospheres.
Hello Games has already expressed interest in a Switch port.
For years, Sega’s Yakuza series flew under the radar in the West while being a sales behemoth in Japan. Finally, thanks to the 2017 prequel Yakuza 0, there’s a surge of interest in the long-running RPG beat-’em-up series.
Yakuza’s early reputation as a “Japanese Grand Theft Auto” gave players the wrong impression about it. It’s more like a Japanese role-playing game (a la Persona) mixed with classic Streets of Rage-style fighting. But it’s still very much a free-roaming game, giving players a densely packed Tokyo district to explore and play dozens of side activities in.
Yakuza 0 is not only the actual starting point for the saga, it’s also arguably the best game in the series. You need no familiarity with any other game. Also, even though Yakuza 0 first appeared on the PlayStation 4 in the United States (US), the game was originally created for the PlayStation 3, much like its sequel Yakuza 5.
So while we probably shouldn’t expect the same 60 frames-per-second performance of the current generation consoles, there’s no reason the Switch couldn’t’ handle a low-tech game such as Yakuza 0 (or the remake of the first game, Yakuza Kiwami).
Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 took seven years for Rockstar to build, and it’s easy to see why. It’s one of the most sophisticated open-world games ever, and an excellent tale of a cowboy gang losing faith in a leader it once blindly followed.
This Western romp has an open world that is gigantic and filled to the brim with stories in every corner. It’s a joy to ride your horse through foggy bayous or in bustling towns, because of the sheer amount of detail.
Can the Switch run something as powerful as Red Dead Redemption 2? This is a game that pushes consoles to their limits, but rumours swirled earlier this year after a listing for a Red Dead Redemption 2 Switch port appeared on Spanish retailer Instant Gaming’s website.
Batman: Arkham City
The most beloved Batman game ever made actually appeared as a launch title for the ill-fated Nintendo Wii U. Perhaps that’s why developer Rocksteady Studios has been hesitant to port the Caped Crusader over to Nintendo’s latest system.
Arkham City, and its prequel Arkham Asylum, are both watershed titles for superhero video games.
Technically, both would be easy to port, since they’re fairly undemanding by today’s technical standards. And both games hold up remarkably well, considering many action games have since aped Rocksteady’s call-and-response combat system for Batman.
Ultimately, though, Arkham City is the better game, with a more original, innovative story, excellent voice acting from the animated series (including Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, as the Joker), and well-balanced pacing. There are many opportunities to play Arkham City, as it has been re-released multiple times on the PC and every other current major console.
Fallout: New Vegas
Although Fallout 4 has a more impressive open world, we’d argue that Fallout: New Vegas is the best of the series, and it’s one we’d love to have on Nintendo Switch.New Vegas would likely be easier to port than later games, too, due to its older tech: Fallout 4 uses the Creation Engine; New Vegas uses the older Gamebryo engine.
The Fallout universe isn’t the most eye-catching (it takes place in a post-apocalyptic US, after all), and its bleak aesthetics continue in Fallout: New Vegas, but they have more punch.
New Vegas leaves behind the blue-ish hues of Fallout 3 for a more vibrant colour palette as you explore the Mojave Wasteland.
But more than anything, New Vegas has a world rich with lore and storytelling. Its sharp writing still holds up today, representing what many view as the most authoritative entry to the Fallout universe.
Bethesda has already ported Skyrim to Switch, and developer Obsidian is working with Nintendo to bring The Outer Worlds to the platform, too (though coronavirus has slowed this down). There’s a good chance a Fallout entry will come to Switch and we’d put our money on New Vegas.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
The Switch release for Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag made us hungry for more of the science fiction/historical adventure franchise. Similar to Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey would be an ambitious port because of the enormity and detail of its world. But if it does happen, it would be incredible to experience Ancient Greece on the go.
Beginning with Origins, Ubisoft revamped the Assassin’s Creed series to include more role-playing elements. And whereas earlier games made it easy to slice through enemies with your hidden blade, combat now requires more skill and precision.
It was a big shift for the series, but one that has been largely met with positive reception.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is jaw-droppingly beautiful, with a depth to its world that rises to the ranks of what we saw in The Witcher 3 years prior. Its high quality and breadth might make the game challenging to port, but it’s an endeavour we hope Ubisoft and Nintendo attempt.
Just Cause 3
This would be one tough port. The Just Cause series is wildly dynamic, featuring myriad particle effects across an obscenely large map. There’s also the problem of how vertical the game gets: The game is basically Grand Theft Auto with base jumping.
Although we’d probably get a choppy, lower-resolution version of Just Cause, the Switch could use some of the series’ signature highflying stunt work.
Watch Dogs 2
The original Watch Dogs, a game about being a hacker vigilante, failed to impress with a world and characters that rang hollow.
But its sequel left those problems behind. Set in a colourful version of San Francisco, Watch Dogs 2 lets you explore areas from the tech-infused Silicon Valley to Alcatraz Island’s massive prison. It’s an impressive re-creation of the seaside Californian city.
Thanks to a wider array of hacking abilities and a tongue-in-cheek narrative that comments on issues plaguing our real world, such as privacy and politics, Watch Dogs 2 is an entertaining action adventure game that is a far cry in quality from the original.
The first Watch Dogs made its way to Wii U, so it’s possible for Nintendo to partner with Ubisoft again on this particular franchise. The two companies could get creative with the Switch’s joy-cons, too, letting you operate drones or the RC jumper (a small, remote controllable car) with gyroscopes.