Monster Hunter Rise, a perfectly designed Switch game

Welcome to Technically Nintendo, a monthly column where I examine the technical aspects of some of your favorite games on Nintendo hardware. Sit back, relax and grab your frame counter, we’re going to have a great time.

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It’s rare for a game to make the transition from more powerful systems to the Switch without a few downsides. NBA 2K runs at only 720p, 30fps on Nintendo Switch. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age runs at 30fps with reduced geometric detail, lower framerate, and lower resolution. games like Apex Legends run, but at settings that no competitive gamer would find acceptable. These downsides have often made the Switch a challenge to port, a system that takes specialist teams like Panic Button months to work their magic, porting games originally designed for 8 Jaguar mobile cores to the based PS4 and Xbox One, 8GB of GDDR5 (or DDR3 on Xbox One and One S), and a GPU that’s roughly (and I can’t stress its generality enough) equivalent to a Radeon HD 7850 to run a system with half the cores (and ARM cores to boot), half the memory, and a mere slice of the performance capability. [1]

If games ported to Switch are often stripped to the bone in order to fit their pre-existing content within the confines of an aging system architecture, then custom-designed Switch games built from the ground up with the platform in mind are where the system really shines. breath of the wild looks gorgeous at 900p with a mostly locked 30fps framerate, Metroid Dread runs at the same 900p with an increase to 60 fps over its predecessor on 3DS. Custom Switch games work and feel many better than their ported counterparts, able to leverage years of experience with Nintendo’s hardware and the streamlining that comes with single-platform design to create experiences that rival those of even more powerful systems.

Enter Rise of the Monster Hunter, the latest entry in Capcom’s tentpole franchise that launched on Switch as a timed exclusive for nearly the first year of its life. Designed from the ground up with the Switch in mind, Rise runs at 30 frames per second with a fixed resolution of 1344×756 in docked mode and 960×540 in handheld mode, a design choice that, although it doesn’t look sharp, especially on 4K screens, highlights how much of the game is designed about the limits of the switch.

Change handheld: [2]

The zones are smaller and simpler than those of monster hunter world, with various nooks and alcoves between areas that likely help conceal cargo between areas. Despite running at 30 fps, To augment feels smooth, with enemy animations and player animations taking enough time (in classic series form) that framerate doesn’t end up mattering much.

Foliage density, soil texture work, and enemy hair detail take an obvious hit, with an incredible amount of aliasing that’s obvious on a 1080p panel and glaring on a 4K panel. However, the game designs around this making sure you’re chasing a monster almost at all times, with clever game design that limits the amount of time you’ll spend staring at pretty weed and instead focuses your attention on trying to kill the Magnamalo trying to trample you.

Docked switch:

This focus on gameplay over relative graphical fidelity is evident in how easily the game runs on PC. My current setup, an XPS 8940 vying for “most pedantic PC of the year”, still manages to run the game smoothly at 1440p ultrawide, hitting between 80 and 100 FPS in the starting box. [3] Even the integrated graphics in my laptop, a two-year-old 2-in-1 from Lenovo, the Flex 5 14, manage to hit 60 fps at 720p medium settings and around 50-60 fps on a world tour at 1080p, Medium . [4]

Vega 6 720p Laptop Average:

Vega 6 Laptop 1080p Average:

GTX 1660 Super High Desktop Computer:

To augmentThe PC port of emphasizes what I wish more PC games would favor: efficiency over grandiosity. Being a port of a Switch game has led to criticism of the game’s look and feel dated. Although I can’t argue with that, it still amazes me how much fat is not it intersect in modern AAA development, how many sliders, visual tweaks, and completely useless overdone features remain enabled due to variation between platforms. To augment, at least to me, highlights how much developers can accomplish when they have a single platform to work for, a platform they can design the quirks of and implement the features to fix the problems.

Instead of having to develop a scalable game between PS4, PS4 Pro, PS5, Xbox One(S), Xbox One X, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, and PC like most major releases in this industry cross-generational period, Capcom were able to really emphasize which features were needed and which weren’t, develop the game they wanted within the confines of the Nintendo Switch and release a game that ultimately was all content and no fat, something that was the most necessary aspects of their original vision without needing to support eight or nine different platforms with different GPU specs, memory architectures, and other headaches.

This speaks to the quality of the Switch version of To augment is designed so that playing it on PC or Switch is functionally identical. Even with four times the pixels (going from 720p to 1440p) and more than triple the frame rate (30fps on Switch versus 100fps on my PC), the game still looks pretty much the same. With the way the animations are designed, the enemies are balanced, and the world is laid out, the difference in visuals and frame rate seems mostly cosmetic, a nice feature, but hard to consider truly essential. That, in itself, is almost a miracle in a world where faster-paced games, especially on PC, require 120fps as a Baseline.

This is, at least in my mind, what makes Rise of the Monster Hunter the Perfectly designed the Switch game. It’s not the prettiest, it’s not the best sounding, it’s not even my favorite Switch game, but it emphasizes and implements all the most crucial features of what it is. wanted to be and included those in the game which ultimately scale incredibly well to a more powerful platform. It started with the tech specs in hand and then built the game around that, something I find incredibly fascinating and ultimately wish more developers could do.

Endnotes:

[1] For reference, the GTX 750 Ti, which is from the same Maxwell architecture as the custom Tegra X1 silicon in the Switch and one of the least powerful Maxwell boards ever made, still doubles the number of CUDA cores found in the Tegra chip. custom in Switch. and runs on faster GDDR5 memory that does not need to be shared with the CPU.

[2] All screenshots were captured on a Switch OLED using the Switch’s internal screenshot tool. All captures have character/account names obscured for privacy reasons.

[3] My XPS 8940 has an Intel i5-10400 processor, 16GB of 2666MHz DDR4 memory and a 6GB Dell OEM 1660 Super. The game is stored on a 256GB proprietary M.2 drive. I used the demo for all PC benchmark plans. The screenshots are in 1080p in order to show greater parity between this and the Switch original.

[4] My Lenovo Flex 5 14 has a Ryzen 5 4500u, 16 GB of 3200 MHz DDR4 memory and an integrated Vega 6 GPU. The game is stored on a proprietary 256GB M.2 drive. I used the same demo.

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