If you haven’t heard of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, then you have probably been living under a rock since 2011. Still, to this day, Skyrim is considered by many to be not only the best role-playing game of all time, but one of the best video games to ever release. Developed by Bethesda Game Studios, this ambitious RPG launched last gen on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. Fast forward six whole years and the game is still just a relevant as ever with the recent remastered release on Xbox One and PS4, as well as a PlayStation VR version that will be hitting the market soon. Alas, Nintendo is finally getting some of that Bethesda magic on its platform. How does The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim play on Switch? Let’s find out.
Considering the game originally launched in 2011, I won’t bore you with the stuff that has been known for over half a decade, but rather talk Switch details specifically. First and foremost, this is the full Skyrim package. You’re getting the base game, along with the slew of DLC expansions the game received after its initial launch. While a $60.00 price tag is pretty steep for a six-year-old game, at least there’s plenty of content packed in that will keep you busy for hours upon hours.
Thanks to some unique functions the Nintendo Switch has to offer, there’s a handful of new features in this version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Gyro aiming is one of those new features, and definitely my favorite of the bunch. This allows you to use precise motion aiming that surely makes things feel more fluid. Typically, I despise motion controls; however, in this instance, gyro aiming works splendidly in Skyrim on Switch. The game has always had its fair share of criticisms toward the combat ever since the original release in 2011. In my opinion, gyro aiming the bow and arrow rectify some of the wonky combat issues the game has.
The game also lets you use more motion-based controls with split Joy-Con; I dabbled with it a bit and thought it was a nice addition to this version, but ultimately it’s not my preferred way to play. Melee and shielding with motion-controls aren’t one-to-one like the gyro aiming is. Therefore it just reminds me off Wii waggle days, which are days I try not to remember.
Handheld mode is the best way to play Skyrim on Switch. The game is extremely impressive as a ‘handheld’ title. Sometimes it actually felt surreal having a game this grand in the palm of my hands. However, when in TV mode, things are much less impressive. As a TV experience, the game just looks a bit dated. While there’s still plenty to admire and gawk at in the world of Skyrim on Switch, when the game is blown up on a big screen things like pop-in, frame drops, and blurry renders are much more noticeable. It’s a trend I think we’re going to see more of as third-party developers hop on the Switch train. It’s sort of a power vs. portability situation, and what’s most important to you. I will say though, I thought dungeons and caverns looked great in comparison to open areas, thanks to the fantastic attention to detail by Bethesda and superb lighting effects.
How Does it Run?
In case you were wondering, the Switch version of Skyrim run at a (mostly) steady 30fps and 1080p resolution when docked (720p undocked). While I believe the Switch version runs better than the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, I still had multiple bugs occur (although significantly fewer bugs overall). Also, the game crashed on me multiple times during my time with it (keep in mind there may be a day one patch that I was not playing with). Luckily, menus are quick and smooth when navigating through and overall things just feel less, well, janky. Bethesda has gotten a lot of flack in recent years due to its titles being riddled with bugs and glitches, and to me, it seems like the studio buckled down to fix those issues the best they could with the Switch version.
One last thing I want to mention is just how amazing the game’s soundtrack is. I know, this is well known, but I was constantly impressed at just how well the sound design was executed. The perfect song would never fail to play at the perfect moment throughout my adventure. If there’s one thing that didn’t age badly, it’s the breathtaking musical score.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is praised because it offers a wonderfully realized world, memorable moments, and near-endless things to do. While in some aspects the Switch version shows its age with dated graphics and stiff animations, it’s so easy to look past when there’s a vast world in your view with the sense of discovery around every corner. Bethesda succeeded at what most of us would have thought impossible just a few years ago, a full-fledged version of Skyrim that you can take with you anywhere you want; doesn’t get much better than that.