Earlier today I got a chance to play a few of the launch-window titles including Zombie U, Batman: Arkham City, Assassin's Creed III, Wii U Fit and Rayman Legends. I was skeptical of the console going in, and I was left with a load of new concerns afterwards.
Most of the game kiosks featured games where you were meant to use only the Wii-remote and the Wii U controllers themselves were sitting on tables. I tried out one of these games with Wii U Fit, but the game crashed mid-game so I'm not going to pass judgement on it. When I finally did get my hands on the new Wii U tablet-controller, it did feel sturdy and hefty. At first it felt strange having your hands so far apart while playing, but this is probably something you can grow used to. The other thing that must take some getting used to is the controllers button layout. The four face-buttons are labeled A, B, X and Y just like with the Xbox, but the buttons are in completely the "wrong" places. So when I got a button prompt on screen indicating that I needed to hit X, I ended up punching Y instead and so on. But again, this is probably something you can get used to rather fast. Also, the buttons are located directly below the right thumb-stick. This meant that I had to physically move my hand down in order to hit those buttons. I may just have big hands or something, but the button layout didn't seem intuitive at all. Also I don't know if the sticks are too loose, or if games like Zombie U and Batman aren't calibrated properly but I had a hard time with my aiming.
The controller is also really heavy. I don't think that I have dainty hands or anything, but my hands grew tired after 20 minutes of playing while standing up. The worst part was when Rayman made you use hold the controller with one hand while fiddling around with the stylus on the other hand. There is no good place to hold the controller directly from the bottom, so you have to hold it on the side with just one hand. I would definitely have to be sitting down on a couch to play more than one level in a row.
The screen is OK. It's low-contrast and doesn't feature multitouch, but it didn't fail me once in my session. However it was really confusing to have to constantly switch between the TV and the gamepad screen while in-game and a lot of the time I didn't understand when I was supposed to be looking at the controller and when I was supposed to look at the TV. None of the games I tried really put anything of substance on the screen, mainly just maps and inventory. I did feel kind of sad having to play Rayman on that small screen, when I could see how much better the game looked on the TV that was right in front of me.
Which brings me to the visuals. None of the games looked as good as the "modern consoles". This was especially evident with Batman and Assassin's Creed, both of which I've played on current consoles. The frame-rate in Batman was really poor and texture quality was a lot lower. The same goes with Assassin's Creed, which did look slightly better overall. Probably the best looking game out of the bunch was Rayman Legends, which looked almost as good as Rayman Origins on the 360 or PS3. None of these games were final software to my knowledge, so visuals may improve in the retail copies. Also it's clear that with time developers will learn to utilize the power of the consoles more efficiently.
I'm interested in comparing notes and hearing your experiences with the Wii U so far.