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Feature Article

Nintendo's New Switch Console: Our Biggest Unanswered Questions

Let the speculating begin!

After months and months of speculation, Nintendo finally did away with the NX code name and revealed the Switch--a console/handheld hybrid with a variety of different control options. But as much as we learned about the system, there are even more unanswered questions. Here's everything we were left wondering about following the Switch announcement.

How much storage will it have, and can it be expanded?

The Wii U was notorious for its lack of internal storage. You could easily fill the the 32 GB system with a handful of games. And if you were unfortunate enough to get the 8 GB version, games like Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water were completely inaccessible. You could add additional storage through an external HDD, but there was no option for just swapping out the hard drive for a bigger one like on Xbox and PlayStation.

The Switch looks compact, but that doesn't mean the docking station isn't hiding a high-capacity SSD. But just how much storage will you have, both when the system is docked and when you take it on the go? More importantly, will users be able to upgrade the system storage themselves?

What's the undocked system's battery life?

It's great to undock a high-end gaming system and take it on the go, but how long will it last? Modern tablets can last upwards of 10 hours or more...but that number drops precipitously when you start gaming on them.

What's going to happen to the 3DS?

Nintendo dominates the handheld market with the 3DS, but will the Switch replace the popular system, or will they work together in some way? Is the focus on taking the Switch with you everywhere you go, or will the 3DS continue as Nintendo's primary travel platform? It's not uncommon for multiple people in a house to each have their own 3DS, but will Nintendo expect the same thing of Switch owners? And that leads us to...

How will it handle multiple users?

The Wii U lets you have multiple users on one system, but you're forever locked into that system. Unlike the PS4 and Xbox One, you can't go over to a friend's house, log into your account, and access your library of games and achievements. But will the Switch finally allow that same multi-user environment? The trailer puts a strong focus on multiplayer portable play, but it doesn't specify how your personal account will travel across systems.

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Will there be cross-buy with the Wii U?

Splatoon and Mario Kart were featured prominently in the Switch reveal trailer, but how are you going to access those games? Nintendo typically has strong backwards compatibility support, but with no disc drive, will there be a way to play games you already own on the Switch? It's more likely you'll need to get the digital version of those games, but when you buy a game (like Breath of the Wild) will you have access to the game on both platforms, or do you have to choose between Switch and Wii U? This is particularly important if you don't plan on getting the Switch when it launches (or if the system is sold out and you can't get one)--will you be able to start Zelda on Wii U and, once you're able to upgrade your console, finish it on Switch?

What happened to touch and motion controls?

Over the last year, Nintendo games have frequently treated the Wii U touchpad screen as a novelty rather than the primary input method (a far cry from the promise of Wii U launch title Nintendo Land). But, if--and that's a big if--the Switch is backwards compatible with the Wii U, how will it handle titles that did rely on the second screen? And will the device have touch support? Or will the controllers have gyroscopes? No one in the trailer was tapping on the screen or shaking their controllers, but that doesn't rule out the possibility.

Can you play all games with the Switch Pro Controller?

Several Wii U games locked you into specific controller setups, notably this year's Star Fox--that game required the Wii U game pad and would not work with the Wii U Pro Controller. Will all Switch titles allow you to use the Switch Pro Controller?

How will the online store/Virtual Console work?

Nintendo made inroads this year at consolidating the Virtual Console system and the various online Nintendo shops...but it's still not perfect. How will the Switch fit into that infrastructure? And if you already own a large digital library of Wii U or Virtual Console games, will you have access to that on your Switch when it launches? When the Wii U came out, you could pay a nominal fee to transfer games you already owned on Virtual Console from the Wii over to the Wii U, but will Nintendo ask you to pay again for yet another transfer?

Will Wii U peripherals work?

Most Wii owners likely have a wide array of Wii-motes, Pro controllers, and other assorted peripherals--will any of those work with the Switch, or will you need to replace all your hardware?

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How much will it cost?

The Wii U costs $250. You can get an Xbox One S or PlayStation 4 Slim for $300. The 3DS costs $200. Where will the Switch fit in?

Will graphics be the same on mobile/console?

You can take the Switch screen on the go, but will it be just as powerful? Or does the base unit provide additional processing power, giving you a higher resolution gaming experience when you have it plugged into your TV? Is there the possibility of 4K or HDR support?

What are the entertainment options?

These days, a console isn't just a console. It's a hub where you also access Netflix, HBO Go, and any other number of movies and TV shows. Is Nintendo going for a purely gaming-focused experience, or will you also be able to watch streaming video on the go?

Will it have Amiibo support?

The reveal trailer has some Amiibo in the background, but will the system support the growing number of Nintendo's toys-to-life figurines? [UPDATE: Nintendo confirmed that the system will support Amiibo].

When exactly is it coming out?

We know it's slated for March 2017, but what's the exact date? (In the meantime, I'm marking myself busy for the entirety of the month.)

Do you have any burning questions about Nintendo's system we didn't add in here? Let us know in the comments below!

Justin Haywald on Google+
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justinhaywald

Justin Haywald

GameSpot's Managing Editor and part-time stunt double for Elijah Wood.
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