How do you create a local wireless network on the Nintendo Switch?
Creating a local wireless network on the Nintendo Switch only happens for one reason: you're trying to play a game locally with someone on another Nintendo Switch. Many multiplayer games include the option for local wireless play with other Switch systems, and by choosing this option, the hosting Nintendo Switch effectively creates a limited local wireless network that only other Nintendo Switches can connect to.
There's no way to create this network for use by other devices or independently of local wireless gameplay, so don't get any ideas!
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How much battery life does it drain?
I tested local wireless play with both Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Simply creating the network and letting it run with no other systems connected to it drained battery slightly faster than letting the game run without a network created. The battery drained in each game at a rate of about 10% every 20 minutes with the network created, and about 8% every 20 minutes without a network.
This is the base rate. It may increase depending on other factors such as how many systems connect to yours during wireless play, and what game you're playing. Games like Smash and Mario Kart can drain the battery faster than other games where less is happening on-screen. Whatever your usual battery expenditure for a game is when playing multiplayer, expect it to increase when you play wirelessly.
How much battery life does the Nintendo Switch have?
Original Nintendo Switch systems have a battery life of between 2.5 and 6.5 hours, depending on the game you're playing. A newer model, which began appearing in stores late this summer, extends that life to between 4.5 and 9 hours. If you have a Nintendo Switch Lite, your battery life is between 3 and 7 hours.
Do I have other options?
You can, of course, play online, but playing online also drains the battery faster than regular play. The best solution is to keep your Nintendo Switch plugged in or in its dock during long play sessions regardless of whether or not you'll be playing using a local wireless network or online. You can also play many games with friends using a single Nintendo Switch system and multiple controllers if you're really concerned about battery life.