Game Title: The Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim
Developer: Bethesda Studios
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Retail | Digital Download
Battery Life: 2.5 – 3 hours
Download: 14.5 GB
Skyrim on the go is a big thing right now, but it was also a big thing back in 2016. It is common knowledge to followers of this website and channel that the first handheld to have Skyrim on the go was the GPD Win, the miniature PC with a built in gamepad. That is where I first played Skyrim and spent dozens of hours into fighting dragons, getting married, and doing everything for everyone.
But the newest version of the famed game is even more important for handheld fans. Bethesda ported over the game to a dedicated handheld, a Nintendo handheld bringing Nintendo Fans Skyrim for the first time.
Now that the game is out and there are questions everywhere, let’s get right to it. This is my review of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the Nintendo Switch!
200 years after the events of Oblivion, the country of Skyrim is in the middle of a Civil War. Just as the war is at a crucial point, the mythic beings known as Dragons appear in the skies of Skyrim, harbingers of Doom that bring with them the End of the World. You take up the mantle of Dragonborn, a mortal with Dragon Blood coursing through their veins, to venture out to find out why the Dragons have returned and stop them from bringing about Tamriel’s Apocalypse.
The story of Skyrim is interesting and epic in its own right with it throwing you into battle with huge dragons, but the real charm is how much lore is in the game. Almost every NPC in every town has their own backstory, mission set, and set of history and lore behind them. The sheer amount of lore in this game is overwhelming and can keep you asking questions and getting answers far beyond the end of the game.
Skyrim, much like its predecessors, is an open-world Action RPG. Across the entirety of the game, you’ll be navigating a huge world map full of towns, dungeons, and lots of dragons that all want you dead.
One of the biggest questions that we’ve had since it was announced is what version of Skyrim this is. After all, Skyrim on the Switch is titled “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim”, leading many to believe we would be getting the Vanilla version from 2011 rather than Special Edition from 2016. After much research, it is clear that Skyrim Switch is Special Edition without Mods. While the Switch version is unique with having Zelda-based equipment, like the Master Sword, it is essentially Special Edition without the patch that added Mods on PS4 and Xbox One.
Skyrim’s Progression is mostly one of Exploration. From the moment you start the game and go through the tutorial area, you will be thrown into this gigantic world with a marker for where the Main Quest will start up to put you through the “Stop the Dragons” plotline. However, like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you have the choice of exploration. You can go and discover various towns like Riften and do all of the main quests for that town and all of its NPCs and repeat the process without touching the Main Quest.
And that is the beauty of Skyrim, the freedom of choice. You can do the Main Quest, or you can go do quests to buy a home and get married before doing the story, do the DLC Story Quests, spend time upgrading your Weapons and Armor, join the Civil War, etc. You do what you want to do and, with the character creator, and a dozen different types of weapon skills you can level up, you can be what you want to be as well.
And on all the RPG elements, that ties into combat, which you’ll do everywhere in the open world and dungeons. Skyrim lets you create your own character from several races, each with their own perks and strengths, like the Wood Elf’s skill in Archery. After that, you can do whatever you choose as any sort of weapon, magic, or anything else you can do has a proficiency level that increases as you use it. I wanted to be a Wood Elf whom was proficient in Archery and use the Master Sword with the Healing Spell, so all I had to do was use One-Handed Swords and Heal a lot and eventually those skills leveled to the point where they were even more effective than using bows.
The biggest part of Skyrim, though, is its length and amount of content. You’ll see people talk about how Skyrim easily lasts 100-200+ hours and that is very true, depending on what you do and how -much- you want to do. Since I do like realistic time-frames in my reviews, let’s talk about how long it will take you to get through the game without doing every little thing there is to do.
If you do stuff on the side here and there, but mostly stick to the Main Storyline, you should be able to finish off Skyrim’s Final Boss in roughly 30-40 hours. Adding onto that, the Dawnguard DLC’s Main Quest will add around 8 hours to that total, and the Dragonborn DLC’s Main Quest another 5 hours. That would put you at around 52 hours, which is excluding the majority of major quests from the various towns. I hit that, and the only non-Main stuff I did was Leveling Smithing so I could upgrade the Master Sword, Getting Married, and gaining reputation in Riften to afford a house.
So, we are looking at a minimum of 50 hours for Main Quest stuff.
Controls aren’t too difficult in Skyrim, although it is a little different from PS4/XB1.
The Left Stick is used to move and the Right Stick is used for moving the camera. The triggers is where things get a little different. The L button is used for dashing and R is used for Shouts/Powers. ZL and ZR are used for combat with your Left and Right hand. On PS3 and PS4, these were swapped. L1/R1 were combat and L2/R2 were Sprinting/Shouts.
Then you’ve got your Arrow Buttons / D-Pad, which are used for your favorites menu, where you can freeze time and access selected weapons, spells, and powers without cycling through the entire menu. And the face buttons. The A button is used for interacting and talking with NPCs and B is used for accessing the menus for the Map, Skill Trees, and Inventory. X is used for Jumping and Y is used for pulling out or putting away your equipped weapon(s).
This is really similar to other consoles’ control schemes, so it should be pretty simple to get used to. You also have motion controls for combat, but those can be toggled on and off in the menu.
Graphically, as I said above, Skyrim on Switch is Special Edition, so you’ve got high-definition textures and pretty much no jagged edges or blurriness anywhere. When you have the game docked, everything looks smooth and perfect. In Handheld, there are some small jagged edges here and there, but they are few and far between. For all intents and purposes, the game looks very pretty, just like on PS4 and Xbox One.
Performance is also very nice. Load Times have been reduced a little bit. Load Times that take 20 seconds on PS4 take around 14-15 seconds on Switch. And the frame-rate is a constant 30 fps. I saw the frames drop a couple times, but only for a split-second and the drop was not heavy. Overall, it is a very smooth experience.
However, that doesn’t mean Skyrim’s known Glitchiness doesn’t come up here. Glitches are still here, from good to bad. You’ve got the ever-useful Item Duplication and Jump-Climbing Glitches still present in the game, but I have had the game crash on me several times. To be specific, it has crashed on me 4 times in the 50 hours I’ve played it, so make sure you save often to not have to repeat some boss fights like I did.
Considering how resource-heavy Skyrim is, especially in its Special Edition, I was expecting pretty low Battery Life. Here are the times I got, from 100% to 0%
Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 34 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 37 minutes
Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 55 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 02 minutes
This is pretty low, as I expected. Skyrim has around the same Battery Range as Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which makes sense.
In Conclusion, Skyrim on the Switch is a smooth and fun way to experience the game on the go. Although mods being removed and the game still occasionally crashing will deter some, Skyrim remains a huge time-sink and a very memorable Open World RPG.