Can the Nintendo Switch Handle a Dark Souls Remaster?

Love it or hate it, we all remember our first time playing Dark Souls. The game’s highs and lows are impossible to forget, figuratively and literally. In the same vein, nobody can forget the horror that was Blighttown.

While not overly difficult by itself, for Dark Souls at least, Blighttown’s atrocious framerate turned it into an absurd nightmare. For somewhere so low, it cast an immense shadow over any thought of returning to Lordran. Fortunately, as awful as Blighttown was, the technical problems were contained mainly to that one area. Or at least, it was.

With the recent announcement of Dark Souls Remastered, soon to be released on all major gaming platforms, many people, myself included, are very excited. As wonderful as all the 60fps and 4K bells and whistles are, the possibility of playing this masterpiece again bereft of its major flaws is thrilling. A portable Switch version of this dream almost seems too good to be true, and as always, there are some caveats. While the remaster itself is being handled by QLOC, the Switch port has been reportedly handed off to an as-yet-unnamed studio in China.

This is hardly inspiring, especially as the Nintendo Switch’s track record on frame rate is a worrying point of contention. Depending on who you ask, some will say that the Switch is prolific with frame drops, making it near defunct even for first-party titles; while others will claim the problems they’ve had are minimal at worst and is generally a non-issue.

But imagine the torture if the whole of Dark Souls played like Blighttown. It doesn’t matter how much you claim to love that game, you’re going to drop it and you’re going to play it on something else. If the Switch port has an unstable frame rate, copies will be flooding the shelves at your nearest GameStop.

The problems don’t stop there either. Dark Souls‘ PVP is a crucial part of the game, the longevity of every SoulsBorne title is dependant on its invasion mechanic — be it griefers trying to impede others, summoning in friendly for those stuck on Ornstein and Smough, or even the dedicated looking for 1-on-1s. Dark Souls, while its summoning has always been far perfect, needs this to work at a basic level.

Unfortunately, it’s no secret that Nintendo is over a decade behind its competitors when it comes to online multiplayer. To this day, the Xbox 360 and the PS3 best every Nintendo console in that area. Currently, you have to utilize a separate mobile app just to use voice chat on the Switch.

Even the Switch’s staple multiplayer-focused first-party titles, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2, had more than their fair share of online issues. If Nintendo’s own games can’t get it right, what kind of chance does a third party developer have? The hope that Nintendo’s delayed online subscription service would alleviate these problems is still just a hope on the horizon.

One thing that everyone will be able to agree on, however, is that come May 25th — with simultaneous releases on all other platforms — the Dark Souls Switch port will live or die based entirely on its technical capabilities.