Skyrim is one of the biggest successes in the RPG game industry, with more than 30 million copies sold worldwide.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, or just Skyrim in short, is an incredibly popular game, both among the deeper gaming community as well as the outer general internet community. It has won several awards and is praised among gamers on a regular basis.

The game saw it's original release on November 11th, 2011 with a remastered "Special Edition" released on October 28, 2016. The latest addition to that portfolio are the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation VR versions which were released on November 17th, 2017. The age of the game leaves little unknown and interesting to talk about, which leads us to approach this review in a slightly different way, by focusing on the platform specific improvements, details, changes and differences.

The lore

Skyrim's lore has always been criticised for being a little too flat and unimmersive and this holds true for the latest edition of the game. Characters feel like robots, the story feels generic and the questline makes little sense. But the lore is not the reason you'd buy Skyrim in the first place. Skyrim's strong point is the openness and possibilities in the game (which are often expanded using mods, but we'll get to that later). There are some simply pointless things included in the game which still contribute to the experience as they are plain fun. You can truly roleplay in Skyrim thanks to the focus on building your own story instead of following a story on rails which forces you to do the same thing as millions of other players who have played the game.

Mods

Skyrim's definitive biggest selling point has been mod support. The modding community has done fantastic work with improving the game thanks to the open nature of PC games. Mod support became so highly requested on other platforms that Bethesda, Microsoft and Sony implemented solutions for the Special Edition of the game running on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, allowing gamers to once again enjoy Thomas the tank engine flying around their sky, spitting out fire.

This is not the case with the Nintendo Switch. Skyrim on the Switch does not support mods and there is no word if it ever will. We have reached out to Bethesda for comment and will update the review if anything rolls in.

The lack of mods could have many causes, one of them being Nintendo not allowing such things on their platform or Bethesda and/or Nintendo worrying about degraded performance with many mods running at once. It's unknown and unless we get an official response to the lack of mods, we can only speculate.

Controlls

Controlling the game on a Nintendo Switch is extremely different compared to an Xbox One or PC. As this time the game is running on a Nintendo console, the XY and AB buttons have been inverted, leading to a change in the overall controller layout. While it's possible to remp the buttons from game settings, I strongly discourage it as that is not possible in the majority of games running on the Switch and undoing the Nintendo layout would just lead to more confusion in the long run.

I used to play on "Legendary" difficulty, however, the odd layout of the controllers led me to set the difficulty to "Novice"

If you're primarily a Nintendo gamer, you should be more than familiar with the scheme, however, if you're a gamer coming from another platform the layout will take a lot of getting used to. I used to play on "Legendary" difficulty, however, the odd layout of the controllers led me to set the difficulty to "Novice" to get a chance and get used to the change.

As Skyrim is pretty similar to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, get ready for pressing all the wrong buttons on top of the different controller scheme and getting confused about what's going on in the game. After playing for a while, you can get your muscle memory to learn both like I did, but it takes some switching between those games.

The screen

While the screen doesn't usually affect the game that's played, it does in the case of Skyrim and Nintendo Switch. The game is not optimised for the small screen of the undocked Switch and some UI elements are a little uncomfortable at times while playing.

This, unfortunately, goes for more than just UI elements. As the Field of View (FOV) in Skyrim is not adjustable without console commands or modifying files, the character is huge and takes up half of the Switch's screen making the game hard to play in third-person mode and I personally dislike the first-person mode, making this whole issue particularly painful.

A very simple solution would be to implement a slider for the FOV like every other game ever has done, but seeing that it's been 6 years and Bethesda still hasn't bothered, I wouldn't get my hopes up.

The graphics

Skyrim graphics on the Nintendo Switch are breathtaking. Not because they outperform other consoles or because it's the "best thing ever". No. They are breathtaking because you're running them on a 7" device which easily fits in your backpack. The graphics aren't revolutionary, but the level of quality this game reaches on such underpowered hardware is indeed incredible.

The output resolution while playing undocked is 720p and runs at 30FPS which should be enough for most players. Where I was bothered was during my docked gameplay. The game supposedly runs at 1080p but doesn't manage to keep up and output at a stable 30FPS framerate on the big screen. It has come to the point where i disconnect the Switch and play undocked while still sitting in front of the TV as the low framerate is so uncomfortable.

This does not mean that it cannot be fixed. Bethesda has shown outstanding performance improvement over time with the original Skyrim 1.0 and Skyrim 1.9.32.0.8 having an incredible difference in smoothness and performance and there is nothing that says that it couldn't be the case with the Switch as well.

Conclusion

Skyrim is a fantastic game on the Switch. It's a very well done port of the game and you'll surely have many hours of fun gameplay with it. It has its quirks, but nothing too major. Despite its flaws, it's the second most enjoyable game on the Switch, with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild taking the top spot.

Good:

  • Attractive looks
  • Skyrim in your bag
  • It's simpy cool.

Bad:

  • No mod support
  • Navigation can be confusing
  • No cross-platform saving

Buy The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim from the Nintendo eShop