When the Nintendo Switch was officially revealed in October of 2016 (wow it’s been that long?) I was pretty skeptical when I saw The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim running on the system. There was no way a game of that capacity could run so smoothly on this portable console, there had to be a catch. I’m delighted to tell you that I was wrong. Skyrim on the Switch is one of the best ports I’ve played in a long time.
Looking at it from a technical standpoint, I’m not sure what kind of witchcraft Nintendo and Bethesda used to compact this massive game into a 14GB file without a very noticeable compromise. While I’m sure they had to cut corners somewhere, they do a good job at hiding it. Skyrim runs like a dream on Switch. You’re able to hop in and out and swap playstyle modes on the fly, just as you would with a core Switch title. I experienced zero framerate drops, and the visuals are as beautiful as they can be for a game that initially launched in 2011. One of my largest gripes with vanilla Skyrim was the painfully long loading screens. There were times when I’d find myself waiting well over a minute trying to fast travel between locations. Thankfully, the load times are much shorter when playing on the Switch. I’ll reiterate; I’m not exactly sure how Bethesda and Nintendo were able to pull that off, but having to wait for load times in Skyrim isn’t a burden anymore! The only negative I discovered from a technical standpoint was a minor audio glitch that I experienced in Handheld and TV mode. Once every now and then, the game would quickly blurt out a weird static like sound. Similar to what you would hear from an old TV or bad VHS tape. That being said, it didn’t occur often enough, nor was it disrupting enough to be a major downside. It’s something I imagine could be solved with a small patch.
Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
In regards to gameplay, you wouldn’t be wrong to assume that Skyrim on Switch would just be a carbon copy of the exact same game we’ve been replaying for years, but that’s not entirely the case. Yes, it’s pretty much just the special edition ported to a new console. There isn’t any new DLC or expansion pack, but there are some small yet pleasant additions here and there. Skyrim takes advantage of the Switch’s motion controls in a way that isn’t intrusive or annoying. Players can swing the left and right joy-con to use the weapon in their respective hand. You can also very slightly tweak your aim by tilting the joy-cons or tablet when aiming a bow & arrow, similar to what can be done in Zelda: Breath of The Wild. This helped me pinpoint my sights for a more accurate shot. Also, the joy-cons can be used when picking locks. Thanks to the top notch quality of the joy-cons, I found lockpicking even easier when using them.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has grown a reputation for its silly and awkward glitches. The truth is, the majority of those minor are still present. Luckily, none of these glitches are game-breaking, nor do they halt your progression. It simply comes down to what you’re willing to put up with when it comes to silly bugs in videogames. If you're interested in reading what we thought about Skyrim when it initially launched, you can check that out here.
Overall, Skyrim on Switch is as good as I hoped it would be. I still find new areas to explore and new secrets to discover. Being able to take this awesome title on the go truly showcases why the Nintendo Switch is king. Sadly, Skyrim is a 2011 game, and at times it really shows. Because of this, it doesn’t stand up against a game like Breath of The Wild, though that comparison may not be fair. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim proudly stands as the second best RPG available on Switch. If by any chance you’re a Switch owner that’s never played Skyrim, I’d recommend picking it up.