As the house of Mario’s newest console venture, the Nintendo Switch is a lot of things. It’s portable, useful for making arduous commutes fly by; it’s home to hundreds of great indies, ideal for grazing on between major triple-A release; and finally, it’s perfect for couch co-op play thanks to having two Joy-Con controllers packaged in. What the Nintendo Switch necessarily isn’t, however, is a graphical powerhouse. But with the recent Surprise reveal of The Witcher 3 coming to the console, this got us thinking: What other blockbuster franchises could we see come to the Switch?
Now of course, ideally, it’d be great to have every new tentpole release come to Nintendo Switch day-and-date with the other consoles. The good news is that the tide looks to be changing. Only recently we saw the launch of Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled on Nintendo Switch alongside PS4 and Xbox One, and there are great third-party developers like Panic Button who are committed to ensuring that Switch players needn’t miss out on such graphically intense games as Wolfenstein: Youngblood and Doom: Eternal.
Call of Duty and Nintendo's past relationship
One huge franchise Nintendo Switch is presently lacking, however, is Call of Duty. But history has proven that this needn’t be the case. Believe it or not, there was a time when Call of Duty games were released fairly regularly on a Nintendo console – and portable Nintendo consoles at that. You see, back in the days of the Nintendo DS, that portable console proved so popular amongst people that even a massive publisher like Activison couldn’t help but take advantage. The result were spin-off Call of Duty games that weren’t anything like their main console counterparts.
It all began with a little game named Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, but as any screenshot will prove, the Nintendo DS version of this classic military shooter left a lot to be desired. In all fairness, bringing over a version of Call of Duty that in some fashion resembled the experience on PS3 and Xbox 360 was always going to be tricky. This version wasn’t developed by Infinity Ward, instead given to N-Space to handle. And the result is a noticeably pared back experience that reworked familiar location from Modern Warfare and had you move and shoot through them in an entirely different context. The game went on to inspire four more Call of Duty games on the Nintendo DS, ending with 2011’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3: Defiance.
Following this Nintendo DS era, Call of Duty opted to swap allegiances when the time next arrived for an on-the-go outing. Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified released for the Playstation Vita in 2012, being universally panned by critics for the lack of meaningful narrative and awkward touch screen controls. Declassified felt lesser than in almost every way compared to Call of Duty: Black Ops II, arguably being the reason we’ve gone so long without one on a portable system ever since. That could change relatively soon, however, with the Nintendo Switch seemingly being more popular than ever.
Potential in the power of Nintendo Switch
Contemporary tentpole releases that have already released for the Nintendo Switch include Doom, Wolfenstein II, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Of course, those are all Bethesda published games originally, leaving many pondering whether or not another large publisher would want to test the waters on Nintendo’s new hybrid console. As the publisher of Call of Duty, the ball really is in Activision’s court as to whether they would see a return on their investment in bringing a Call of Duty game on Nintendo Switch. Action games have been proved to work absolutely fine numerous times, so why not a tight, iron sights first-person shooter like Call of Duty?
Concessions would obviously have to be made in the visual department, with textures being likely being downgraded and draw distances reduced. This is because the processing power of Nintendo Switch can’t possibly match the likes of PS4 and Xbox One. However, in terms of actual gameplay there’s nothing to stop a modern Call of Duty game feeling great to play when running at 30 FPS – at least with regards to the single-player campaign.
Competitive multiplayer, on the other hand, is best played at a smooth 60 FPS, where quick actions can successfully be accounted for to give players a competitive edge and utilise their own reaction times. That’s where Activision (or whomever ends up porting the potential Call of Duty game) can take note of how Splatoon 2 manages the online play experience. That’s a game that looks and runs great, with an exceptional online infrastructure for four-v-four matches. Granted you’d expect nothing less for a first-party console exclusive.
So, could Call of Duty on Switch happen?
Absolutely, to put it bluntly. It is 100% possible that in the near future we’ll see a Call of Duty make its way to the Nintendo Switch in some capacity. Activision has shown before that it can’t resist having games on a console that doesn’t stop selling – and the Nintendo Switch is absolutely one of those. We also now know that, given the time and effort, some contemporary triple-A action games can look and run beautifully on the Nintendo Switch despite the substantially decrease in processing power.
As the owner of the Call of Duty IP, the ball is very much in Activision’s court. An entry on Nintendo Switch is feasible, but the conglomerate publisher has so far shown little interest in publishing games on everyone’s favourite hybrid platform. However, as Call of Duty’s biggest rival, Fortnite is just as wildly popular on Nintendo Switch as it is on, say, PC, so why would Activision let its multiplayer lunch get eaten in this way? Call of Duty on Nintendo Switch? Surely it’s just a matter of time.
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