For the second year in a row, Bethesda Softworks has released Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on a brand-new console. Last year, they gave us the Definitive Edition for current-gen consoles, which was mainly about aesthetics and mods than anything else. Now, we are getting yet another reissue of the acclaimed game, but this time it’s for Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo Switch Allows You to Become the Dragonborn
As it was for the PS4 and Xbox One, nothing about Skyrim’s story has changed with this new port. The reissue was mainly about integrating one of their greatest titles into the ever-growing Switch library. As a result, the Switch is able to unlock more features never-before experienced in Skyrim. The obvious being the mobile effect of playing the game.
Understandably, the graphics won’t wow you on the Switch version of Skyrim. The mobile Switch screen isn’t a 4K or 1080p/i resolution. Thus, Skyrim will be a step down for those expecting the same quality in the Definitive Edition. The Switch simply isn’t powerful enough for that level of definition...but more on that later. The ability to be on the go and still hunt down bandits and dragons in this Nordic land, however, is what makes owning Skyrim on a Switch worthwhile. Before, we were limited to sitting in front of your console or PC, but now the gaming never stops on Nintendo Switch.
In addition to being able to utilize the mobile aspect of the Switch, Nintendo’s new console also has the unique feature of using Joycons to let the gamer experience battle like they are the Dragonborn. It’s not a Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword thing by any means, you can still use the buttons and aren’t limited to thrusting with Joycons. When you are using the Joycons, it’s pretty fun to jump into battle and start swinging; just make sure you have enough room to do that. Clearly the game is an easier, and safer, playthrough when you’re using the Joycon’s buttons, but it’s a fun little feature for gamers to shake up their experience with. I wouldn’t try the lock-picking, though, it’s cool at first but quickly becomes a pain.
Of course, any game on the Nintendo Switch as big as this is going to have an amiibo port. Skyrim is not the exception to that rule. When it was shown at E3 2017, it was revealed that Link could travel to Skyrim, granted if you had a Zelda amiibo and you customized your character to look like the Hero of Time. When you use a Zelda amiibo you have 20% chance to get one of the 3 items from Link’s legendary gear. The blue Breath of the Wild tunic, the Hyrule Shield, and the Master Sword. The rest of the time it’s different chests that include gold, food, weapons and armor. In fact, if you use another amiibo, that isn’t Zelda, you’ll only get the gold, food, weapons and armor. This doesn’t do much to affect the game, but it’s a neat addition for fans of Zelda.
The Mobile Console Can’t Handle the World of Skyrim
It was an inspired idea to release Skyrim for Nintendo Switch, but as I said above, the Switch isn’t powerful enough to handle Elder Scrolls V. I’m not even talking about the compatibility of any of the Definitive Edition features. Volumetric God Rays are cool and all but they really don’t impact the gaming experience. I’m talking about the more noticeable issues in the game; specifically the delays.
Bethesda Softworks hasn’t been known for their facial resolution software. They’ve changed the game in facial customization, sure, but the NPCs always look kind of wonky. Despite that, there weren’t too many delays with the mouth movement and voice in previous versions. On Nintendo Switch it’s everywhere and it’s right in your face. Someone will approach you and say something, but the mouth hasn’t quite started to move yet. It seems like a minor thing, but as much as Skyrim is about killing dragons, it’s also about being social. If you want the full experience, there are A LOT of people you need to speak to. It could possibly be an adapting thing, but the jarring effect tends to taper off and you can force yourself not to notice, but it’s an issue to begin with.
Another issue with moving from console or PC to Switch is the button layout. True to Nintendo’s stubborn ways, they refuse to conform to what the rest of the industry’s button layout is, forcing you to adapt to theirs and it is frustrating. The bottom button for everyone else is typically the confirmation button. Want to talk to this person? X or A. Want to buy this fruit? X or A. For Nintendo, it’s B and it’s the menu button. Out of habit, I would press this button in the most inopportune times, each time taking the annoyance levels to new heights. If they would just rotate their button layout clockwise, it wouldn’t be an issue, but they won’t and it’ll continue to take me out of the game. Trigger is still swing and casting magic, that’s all the same, just don’t hit B until you know you’re ready. Like, tape something over it or something. Out of sight, out of mind.
While a true-blue Skyrim fan could look at these issues as forgivable, what gamers will not forgive are being forced out of a game because of errors. Since I started playing my Switch, not once have I ever experienced an error, until Skyrim. It’s one thing if it just an isolated incident and never happens again. It’s an entirely other thing when it happens more than once. Unfortunately, it happened more than once for me. It could be that my edition of Skyrim Switch was downloaded, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think it has to do with the fact that the processing power isn’t where it needs to be to run a game like Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It’s still the fun game we all know and love, but there seem to be more noticeable issues on Nintendo Switch and the amount of frustration playing it, may not be worth the ability to take it on the go.
You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat
If you’re an avid Switch gamer, this entire review may be moot because you simply don’t have the space to play Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. That’s because the amount of memory needed to play is a whopping 14.5GB. Skyrim fans may look at that number and think, “That all? What’s the big deal?”. When you compare Skyrim’s 14.5GB to The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild’s miniscule 451 MB, that’s an insane jump and will take up nearly all of your storage. It’s even crazier when you consider that Breath of the Wild’s map is 10 times bigger than Skyrim’s. 14.5 GB is just unacceptable. I know it’s exciting and fun to play Skyrim on Nintendo Switch, but it shouldn’t take up all your space.
If you’re dead set on owning it on Switch, I’d recommend purchasing a microSD card, first. Then you can shift around games to create enough space for your Skyrim adventures. Though, if you’re like me and this is the 3rd console you own this on, maybe it’s time for us to move on to other games until Bethesda decides to finally release Elder Scrolls VI. That may not be for a while, though. It doesn’t look like their quite done milking V just yet.