Skyrim may very well be the game we send aliens to express who we are as a species. Players can’t seem to get enough of this game. It’s been ported to just about every console and will probably get ported to refrigerators or some other ridiculous appliance. What’s not ridiculous though is a Switch port.
Bethesda is bringing some of their most popular titles to Nintendo’s exceptionally well-performing portable hybrid. For a console that’s main appeal is a fantastic Zelda and an amazing Mario title, those looking for something more traditional will have something to play. From a marketing perspective, it just makes sense. Switch players are loving their systems and there is a fervor when it comes to expanding that library.
Here’s the thing, Skyrim to go is exactly what players expect. It runs pretty well on portable mode and it’s a game that is certainly easy to pick up and play for a few hours. Being able to just laze about on the couch and explore Skyrim’s snow-covered peaks is an extreme level of relaxation. Need to take a bathroom trip? The adventure doesn’t have to stop, but it really should, nothing would be worse than a Switch swimming in a toilet.
Playing Skyrim on the Switch though made some of my qualms with the system more apparent. The analog sticks just don’t feel proper. Clicking A to pick up things feels really weird when I’m so used to using the bottom face button on every other console. Also, I really wish there was a way to change the sensitivity of the analog sticks. Buttons can be remapped though, which is a huge advantage when it comes to player choice.
Performance is actually pretty solid. The Switch is definitely a weaker console than its competition, but that doesn’t stop Skyrim looking great most of the time. There can be a few visual hiccups here and there and the game’s draw distance feels smaller to me (though that may not actually be correct), but other than that it runs well in either mode.
Since it is a Nintendo system, there is Amiibo support, which if using Zelda Amiibo has a chance to unlock Zelda-themed equipment. All other Amiibo currently just drop chests with minor rewards. Having officially made Zelda items does make it feel more like a Nintendo game, but at the end of the day modders have been using the Master Sword in Skyrim since shortly after launch. Still can make for a fun time though for Zelda fans and I hope Bethesda patch in some more items for other Amiibo lines.
Oddly enough, there are also motion controls using the Joy-Con as two separate pieces. Swinging them can activate attacks, but there seemed to be a slight delay for me, making it a novelty at best. It is pretty cool to have a fully functioning RPG that has the option though. It’s just not enough for me to even consider using it over the traditional buttons.
What’s amazing is how relevant Skyrim has managed to be. The original release came out in 2011 and it’s gotten awesome mods on PC, an HD remaster and is launching on VR consoles (which may actually push me into getting a PSVR). I think the core of what makes Skyrim so appealing though is the breadth of player expression baked into the game.
At the most basic level, players create their own character from a multitude of choices, even if at higher levels most players end up as forces of nature in all aspects. Even simple things like deciding one’s character is a vegetarian and only eating found veggies can make for an exceptional role-playing experience and this is taking place in a single player game. This is all because Skyrim (and most Elder Scroll games for that matter) is built on a complex set of systems. Sometimes that system breaks and shows flying giants, but most of the time it provides a ton of ways for players to express themselves. Players slowly unravel these systems and how they work in tandem with each other. Once learned that player is free to do what they want with that system, making for often unique sessions.
It’s 2017 and I find myself obsessed with Skyrim once more. Now that it’s portable on the Switch, I can take it anywhere, only restricted by battery life. Yes, the Nvidia Shield and many laptops gave us a portable Skyrim, but never has it felt so simple to play on the go to then immediately have it on the TV at a whim. So when we all end up living in colonies on Mars and Gundams are how countries defend themselves, I’ll be playing Skyrim on my PS7. It is this generation’s Doom; it will be ported to everything and we’ll continue to buy it and love it. I can accept this future.
For more information on Skyrim on the Switch, check out the official Nintendo listing. A digital copy was provided for this review.