The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim originally released on the Xbox 360 and PC back in November 2011. Now, six years later, we are seeing this iconic game release on a surprising platform, the Nintendo Switch. Being based on last years updated release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Special Edition for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, can the Switch release even hold up to these beefier platforms? Yes, yes it can, and in the process maybe even become one of the best ways to experience Skyrim yet!
Being caught in an Imperial Raid to capture rebels, you find yourself on a wagon headed to your execution. Despite any attempts to plea with your captors that you weren’t part of the rebel faction, you are soon forced on to the chopping block. This is when the unimaginable happens; a dragon, long thought to be extinct, appears and starts laying waste to the city around you. Being able to escape the chaos, you head to the nearest town to seek help. Fearing the return of the dragons, the residents send you to request help from the local ruler. Soon another dragon appears and with the help of the city guard it is slain, and an incredible discovery is made: you are dragonborn! As numerous prophecies start to unfold it is up to you to decide what part you will play in Skyrim’s history.
Everything you have known about the way The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim plays is completely intact for the Nintendo Switch release. All 10 playable races, each set of weapons and armors, and each spell is present. The world of Skyrim is also fully intact with each story line, quest and cave right where you remember them being. Not surprising, each of the games previously released DLC packs are also included with the Switch release. Unfortunately, modding is not included in this version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim so don’t expect to see any Macho Man Randy Savage fights on your Switch. Although, you can feel free to use those Zelda Amiibos, I'm sure, you have laying around for the chance to get some awesome Zelda themed gear!
Also new to this release are optional motion controls. Yeah, I know, who will use those? Surprisingly enough, I spent a good chunk of time with the game doing so… well, partially. The included motion controls are standard, swinging your left or right Joy-Con will use the items equipped in your characters right or left hands. Utilizing a bow or magicka will allow you to aim with the Joy-Con that it was fired with. Finally, lock picking can also be done by rotating each Joy-Con to find the right spot. While I don’t sit around swinging my Joy-Cons around like a mad man to perform attacks, the added precision the motion control aiming and lock-picking allows for shouldn’t be dismissed. Skyrim is also the first game to fully utilize the new video capture ability of the Nintendo Switch hardware, so highlight those epic moments!
Finally, the biggest shake up The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the Nintendo Switch introduces is portability! Skyrim is a game that was meant to be enjoyed in long play sessions. Not everyone has that time to sit at a T.V. or PC though, so Skyrim on the Switch invites you to take your session on the go. Whether you have a ride to work, or you have family occupying the T.V. or PC, you can explore the world of Skyrim. The Switch’s sleep mode also allows the game to be quickly resumed in case of interruption.
As with Bethesda’s last port to the Switch, Doom, graphics have had to be slightly adjusted to work on the Switch hardware. Base game resolution has been toned down from 1080P to 900P while the system is docked. Resolution is even further reduced to 720P with a dynamic scaler for when the system is being played on the go. Noticeable object pop-in will frequently occur as you explore the world, and, yes, there is far less foliage. Textures and lighting have also been lowered in quality compared to those found on the PS4 and Xbox One. Though, framerate is identical between all three versions at 30 FPS.
Seriously, it’s Skyrim. If you run out of things to do you have already put a bajillion hours into it.
What Could It Have Done Better?
The price of $59.99 for another version of a 6-year-old game, which is steep. A digital copy for $39.99 or $49.99 for a physical copy, to adjust for Nintendo’s cartridge prices, would be much more welcoming to previous owners and newcomers alike.
I still own both the Xbox 360 version and the PC Special Edition of Skyrim and it is the Switch version that has finally gotten me to lose myself in the world. Between the solid gameplay, added features and portability, I declare this my favorite version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The only thing missing from the package is modding and due to the Switch hardware, it might never be possible to add. I have personally never really been into mods, so it doesn’t affect me, but it is something to keep in mind before you buy. While it is hard to recommend the game at its current asking price to previous owners, anyone that has never experienced the game should consider it!