Like seemingly most people on the planet, I put a hefty chunk of time into The Witcher 3 when it first launched on PC in 2015. I even beat it! Though I never did get around to the (apparently amazing) DLC. That was my excuse for buying an inferior version of the game while it was on sale on Nintendo Switch — spending money as incentive to check out expansions I otherwise can’t rationalize playing. That’s what I told myself, anyway. But no. My real reason, the thing that keeps me coming back to games on Switch right now, is fussing with cross saves like a child poking something slimy with a stick.
The Witcher 3 on Switch is, tragically, not part of CD Projekt Red’s deal to get a free PC copy just for owning it on console. I say it’s tragic because the sheer novelty of jumping from a jaggy, portable version of the game to pristine, personal computer graphics has become a game in and of itself to me. I use it just to see it happen. The process is so seamless and impressive to me and my one brain cell that there’s an instinctual joy in just watching it happen. It is the bare, childlike magic of cause and effect — of the chimp pressing button to make banana fall down chute — in video game form. I am a simp for cross save.
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It’s gotten to the point where I need to make up excuses to actually use the damn thing. Playing on Switch isn’t a better experience. Far from it. Even in a turn-based game like Divinity: Original Sin 2, the controls are clunky. The otherwise clean character designs are muddy. And it’s not like I have anywhere to go right now, making use of the Switch’s portable function on the go. But I have my ways.
Do I ruin every breezy summer nights on my balcony with the white glow of the home screen? Yes. Did I bring the Switch to my parents’ place to drown out my relatives on Father’s Day? You bet your ass. Have I started drinking coffee again just so I spend as much time on the toilet with my Switch as at my own desk? It might have played a factor.
Now I’m at the point where cross save is its own excuse to re-buy games. I love Civilization VI. Wouldn’t I enjoy it just as much playing from my couch, nine total feet from my computer? I just bet I would. And it’s the perfect game to peck at while I watch Let’s Plays and other mindless activities that help me wind down from a long day of writing about bathroom habits. Oops, I’ve just wishlisted it… Maybe I’ll wait for a sale. Maybe not.
The downside to subsuming myself in this gimmick (besides, uh, upending my entire life just to play RPGs more) is that I’m now irrationally upset at games that don’t have cross save on Switch. I bought Skyrim on the same eShop sale as The Witcher 3. It’s the perfect Switch game! It looks awful to begin with, so you don’t notice a drop in fidelity on Nintendo hardware. Yet it’s missing the latest object of my worship: cross save.
Sure, I could still play it in my kitchen or on the balcony, but what’s the point if I can’t then boot it up on Steam and feel like I’ve just teleported the entire in-game region across space and time? I don’t buy video games to play them anymore. I buy them to perform stupid parlor tricks for an audience of one — and to tell myself I will eventually play them, of course.
I know this is just the snake of entitled gamer demands eating its own tail. First it was “port everything to Switch.” Now it’s “make sure I don’t need to play on Switch, if I don’t want.” So it goes with my humanity itself. Modern convenience and technological advancement have come back around the other end. I’m a creature of pure instinctual pleasures now. All I know is video game, charge my Switch, save, be bisexual, buy game again, and lie.
If I’m being generous, I could also say this is an investment in the future. One day I might be able to go outside again. One day I might take a long car ride or go to a convention. If that time ever comes, and the world doesn’t erupt in nuclear fire first, I’ll be ready. In the meantime just let me have this clown have its pleasure. Pure joy like this is much too fleeting these days.