The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been released and re-released a number of times during its lifespan. From the vanilla Xbox 360 version to the problematic PlayStation 3 version, right on through to the Legendary Edition released on the PS4, PC and Xbox One. It’s won numerous game of the year awards, received near universal praise from critics, and probably has accumulated billions of hours of gameplay hours from every platform, every version, from its playerbase. For more about the ins and outs of the game, click this link to read my review based on the Xbox 360 version.
With the Nintendo Switch expanding upon their third party line up, Nintendo had Bethesda port over their behemoth of an RPG to help flesh out its line up of titles. The one real sticking point is its price – Skyrim is selling at a full price premium of $60 USD. With this game receiving as many re-releases throughout a myriad of consoles, is the price justified for the Nintendo Switch? Lets break it down in brief segments, shall we?
The audio across the board in Skyrim is some of the greatest in gaming, though not as much with the voice acting in general. It all helped transport players to its world. Between each version, next to nothing about the audio has changed. If you enjoyed the audio that Skyrim provided over half a decade ago, you’ll love it as much today.
(Docked) Skyrim on Switch is a bit of an anomaly – it’s got a better quality of visuals than the vanilla version, but it’s not Legendary Edition fidelity. It’s a middle ground that both, looks more than satisfactory, yet doesn’t capture what was supposed to be the Legendary Edition‘s visual quality. The foliage density seems almost lessened than the 360 version in some spots, and the frame rate is a steady 30fps for the most part, unlike the PC version, which can get 60. The only time you’ll notice Skyrim‘s age is textures up close on certain terrain, with blurriness and some jagged edges here and there, otherwise it’s a happy middle ground that doesn’t sacrifice visuals for better access time and vice versa.
(Undocked) What’s probably the selling point to a Skyrim on Switch, the portable screen and on-the-go performance is more than commendable. The frame rate remains solid, with textures still holding a modest amount of quality. Honestly, there’s little to no difference between docked and undocked quality overall. The only minor nitpick is how dark the game looks on default brightness settings, though that can be easily remedied.
On the subject of access times, Skyrim on Switch feels a hair slower than the 360 version when first entering the open world from the title screen, and not even close to the swift PC load times. It’s no where near game breaking, though it is a bit annoying to sit through a slightly longer than 360 load time. There’s also a bit of a load between the Bethesda logo screen and the Skyrim logo title screen, which probably annoys me more than the extra couple of seconds when first entering the game world. Entering dungeons and homes however, doesn’t feel any longer, and exiting right back to the open world has no hiccups or delays.
Only having the Joy-con and its dog bone controller dock, the controls felt responsive overall, though I absolutely loathe the analog placement in general of the left stick; it should be down at the bottom like the PlayStation analogs sticks, but I digress. The only minor hitch with the performance in Skyrim for Switch revolves around input delay. There’s a slight input delay on everything the players avatar does (docked or undocked, though undocked feels so slightly longer in its delay). Is it game breaking? Not at all, as it’s a very minor thing. Is it annoying? Early on, though after some time, it almost becomes a non issue. The motion controls work…and that’s all I have to say about that. If you’re wanting Skyrim for motion control gaming, I don’t know what to tell you other than “why?!” All in all, combat, movement, menu navigation, everything aside from the slight input lag, is a 1:1 of all the other versions.
Skyrim on Switch has all three DLC included with it (Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn), so in terms of official DLC content, this version has it all. What it doesn’t have though, is the Creation Kit – the Skyrim mods. Depending on who you are, that’s either a big blow, or something you won’t think twice about. While consoles will never see anything of such an epic scope as Enderal, mods do add a plethora of goodies, from changes to items to changes in graphic quality. If you’re only concerned about the content that Bethesda put out, Skyrim for Switch has you more than covered. It does have some exclusive gear from The Legend of Zelda franchise that can either be unlocked by chance via amiibo, or hidden in the game its self.
You can’t talk Bethesda games and not have a discussion about bugs. While numerous patches throughout the years have ironed out most of the bugs, it sometimes takes dozens of hours to find some of them. Hell, it took me 30 minutes into my Switch playthrough to see a plate with cheese on it just randomly up and roll over and flip across the table. It’s too soon to say if there are any game breaking bugs, though all reviews have dictated otherwise, but expect some of the more oddball bugs that produce groans more than anything that outright affects or breaks the gameplay experience.
Skyrim on Switch is essentially everything you loved about the game seven years ago, slightly prettier than vanilla, yet less impressive than Legendary Edition. Is it worth $60? If you’re someone like me who absolutely adores the game, and even with a 360 and PC version, a Switch version was the perfect title to expand my Switch library with. It’s got layers of replay value, and I’m already becoming hooked once again, focusing more on stealth and magic this go around. Since I have no desire to take my Switch on the go for gaming right now (too large, cumbersome and the screen is far to fragile), having a form of Skyrim on-the-go does little for me. But for those that do lug their Switch around with them, Skyrim for Switch is a perfect way to take that addiction with you, without much, if any, compromises to the overall package.
If you’ve never played Skyrim before, I’d recommend the PC version, and if your PC in 2017 cannot handle Skyrim, then go for the Switch version. Outside of Mass Effect 3 (360, PC, Wii U) and Final Fantasy III/VI (SNES, GBA, PS1), there’s no other game I’ve purchased at least three times, until now.
Other than Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, which was a four time purchase (Dreamcast, PS2, XB, 360), but that’s another story for another day.