A Return to Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch (NS)

By now The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a game that most people should be familiar with. Originally released back in 2011, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was considered by many to be one of the greatest games ever made. My feelings towards Skyrim have always been mixed. I’ve always enjoyed playing the game, but I’ve always thought that it was incredibly flawed. It had all of the potential in the world, but the game was just riddled with frustrating bugs.

My initial experiences with Skyrim came from playing it on the PlayStation 3. It was an absolute nightmare The PlayStation 3 version of Skyrim was notorious for having awful performance issues. Having a save file that was more than 12 MB would cause the game to stutter to the point that it would make the game unplayable. It wasn’t until restarting the game that you would temporarily fix the issue, however, it would just happen again after a while. The PlayStation 3 version of Skyrim was abysmal, but today isn’t about that. Today is about Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch.

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Going into The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch, I was more than a little concerned. See, I always think back to the PlayStation 3 version whenever I go into Skyrim. I’m always expecting to run into some sort of issue. It’s because of that initial experience that I’m always afraid to go into Skyrim. And in this case, rightly so. Let me just throw this out there, Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch is not perfect. It is still a broken game. It isn’t unplayable, but, you can’t go into this game expecting to have a smooth experience. When you get passed that mental point, you can then truly understand the game that is Skyrim.

So beginning with the story, for those who do not know, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an open world action role-playing game. You play as an unnamed prisoner who is on their way to be executed. After the initial opening, and customizing your character, a dragon then attacks and in the chaos you are then able to escape. After events that ensue afterwards, you find out that your character is Dragonborn, which has the power to defeat dragons. Your main task eventually comes with stopping a dragon known as the World-Eater, Alduin. All of this comes while there is a Civil War going on in Skyrim. Like any Elder Scrolls game however, this isn’t really all there is to do in the game. There are different types of guilds that you can join throughout the game, which essentially allows you to weave your own storyline. It’s up to player choice. And in the end, Skyrim is a game that’s about freedom.

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Outside of the base game, the Nintendo Switch version of Skyrim also includes the games downloadable content. For those who are unfamiliar with the DLC, Skyrim has three different add-ons. The first one comes in the form of Dawnguard. In Dawnguard you are tasked with either joining the Dawnguard (vampire hunters) or the Volkihar clan (vampires). The objective of this one comes with stopping either side. I actually enjoy Dawnguard a lot, but, I don’t think that it’s a DLC that is for everyone.  It’s another one of those role-play things. And I am someone who personally enjoys any kind of vampire hunting content in video games – so I’ve always took a liking to this one.

The second downloadable content comes in the form of Dragonborn. In this DLC you are attacked by cultists, after which you then find out are linked to another Dragonborn who is named Miraak. You then travel to the island of Solstheim to take care of Miraak. I would say that this DLC basically serves as an epilogue to the main character. It has a good amount of side content to go with the main story portion of the DLC. It isn’t amazing, but, the area of Solstheim is a good addition to the game.  I honestly prefer Dawnguard, but, Dragonborn is still okay too.

Last but not least, the final downloadable content add-on is Hearthfire. There isn’t a whole lot to say about this one, all it really has to offer is a form of homestead building. It’s something to do, but it’s relatively limited. You can build up the house with three different rooms, each section having its own different choices. After building the room, you may then craft different decorations in the house, or you can give your Housecarl money to decorate the rooms.  Like I said, there isn’t a whole lot to this one. I believe that this was the DLC that also added in the ability to adopt children, but again, I don’t really think there is a whole lot to say about this one. It’s another one of those things intended for role-playing.

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Moving on to the gameplay and combat of Skyrim, as I said earlier Skyrim is an open world action RPG. The world of Skyrim is huge and one that you are granted a lot of freedom in.  What I mean by this is: If you see a mountain, you can most likely climb it. The game is open ended, with multiple places to visit as you explore the games vast world. Skyrim is one of those games that every time you pick up, you can discover something new. Playing it on the Nintendo Switch solidified my feelings towards that. In the time that I had spent playing I found several different areas I had no idea were even in the game.  Most notably was the Redwater Skooma Den, which I had stumbled upon at random. It wasn’t anything amazing, but it did make me feel excited to uncover something that was new to me. This is just something that happens into this game. You can play for fifty hours and think that you’ve seen it all, and then you see more.

Even when talking about the quests in the game, you just find yourself discovering new quests every time you go. There are so many little quests and random things that you can find by taking the time to walk a different path. It’s something that I’d say is special. Bethesda has always nailed this, even in Fallout 4 and…yes…Fallout 76. You can just stumble on random quests and locations as you play. It’s what I feel was always one of the stronger points of their game design. Skyrim really nails this. And I would say that it was definitely something that I had found to be very interesting replaying the game.

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So talking about the combat, it’s pretty simplistic. You have multiple weapons that you can use and loads of different spells. Being an action RPG, I don’t really think that I can say there is much strategy involved. Combat simply involves repeatedly striking an enemy until its dead. There are different ways to go about doing this – yes – but the outcome will always be the same. It depends on your personal preference. If you want to wield a giant axe – then you may do so. Not feeling the axe? Well then, why not magic!? Not the magic type? Well then, how about trying a bow!  Like I said, this is all about personal preference, you have the freedom to make a character how you want. And whatever weapons that you can and want to use, go right ahead.  Before moving on, I would like to also mention that Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch seems to include motion controls. They feel pretty light, but you can essentially fight enemies by swinging around the joy-con. You don’t really need to use the motion controls, but they are option.

Moving on to the more technical side of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I was surprised to find out that the game actually looked pretty good on the Nintendo Switch. I don’t think that I could say that it looks as great as the other console versions, but, it still did look pretty nice…depending on how you were actually playing. Now, this might be a little nitpicky but the graphical differences between playing docked and undocked seemed noticeable. When playing docked the game looked a little rough. It wasn’t terrible, but if you compared it to the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One versions – it definitely won’t stand up. As for playing undocked, I honestly felt that this was the optimal way of playing. Graphically wise it looked good. And at times I found myself being pretty amazed at how stunning the game looked when playing in handheld mode. As someone who mostly plays in handheld mode, this wasn’t something that I found to be overly concerning, but, it was still worth noting here. Skyrim is a game that’s all about immersion, so I suppose it all depends on how you play the game. I found the game to be visually stunning when playing undocked, and found myself fully immersed while taking in the games peaceful ambience. That’s something else that I should mention, Skyrim’s soundtrack is quite good. Jeremy Soule created a solid mix of tracks for every occasion in the game. The light tracks that come from exploring the wilderness were always something that I appreciated, and I found them to still feel pretty relaxing. Out of every soundtrack coming from a Bethesda game, I honestly feel that Skyrim’s is one of the best.

Oh – I’m definitely not done here. Now is the time for me to talk about those pesky Bugthesda problem. Yes, Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch has its fair share of problems. In the time that I had spent playing, I encountered quite a few random bugs. In fact, I don’t even know where to begin. I guess I’ll start with an issue I found after loading up the game. I noticed that at times after loading up a save file, my character would be stuck to a walking animation. Moving the joystick forward to try and make my character run would just make him walk. Pausing the screen and then going back out seemed to fix the issue, so this wasn’t a game breaking bug or anything, it was just something that had been happening to me on a few occasions. Something else that happened was this brief screeching noise that would occur. I noticed it mostly while playing docked, so I guess I’ll just say that this one might be situational. After playing for a few hours, the sound of the game would just start randomly screeching. It was high pitched and quite bothersome. Restarting my Nintendo Switch seemed to fix the issue temporarily, but, it would happen again after a while. I never noticed this happening while playing on any of the other versions of Skyrim, so I think that this might be an exclusive problem. Last but not least, the crashes. Now, this one is bad. I honestly recommend that people keep the auto-saves on because you just can’t trust this game. In the entire time that I had played Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch, I had about 5 or 6 crashes. Now, most of these crashes came from being inside of the Hearthfire house. I only noticed one crash coming from being out in the open world. It came from exiting a cave, so there wasn’t really any major issue – since it had auto-saved after exiting. It’s still something problematic, so be warned here. They didn’t seem overly frequent, but, it is still something to be wary of. Outside of all of that, I did notice some framerate drops from time to time, with the most noticeable framerate drops coming from areas in the Dawnguard downloadable content. It’s a price to pay for having Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch. I don’t think that it’s anywhere near as bad as the PlayStation 3 version, but, I still feel that anyone playing this version should be very cautious.

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Now that I have everything out of the way, let’s talk about how I feel about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch. Like any port, it’s a compromise. I wasn’t expecting the game to perfect, I mean…there are no mods – that’s a flaw right there. My first issue honestly came with the price. It’s $59.99 still! That’s crazy. The game is 8 years old and costs full price! Comparing it to Dark Souls: Remastered, which also came out in 201, that game is sitting at $39.99. I don’t really know what the deal is here, but I guess that kind of bothers me. Not to mention that Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch came out in 2017 too. So, I guess I just kind of expected the price to be dropped by now. Unfortunately, still full priced. Pricing aside, I just don’t know. I feel that I want to recommend Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch to anyone looking for an immersive open world role-playing game, but, I think that you need to be aware of the technical issues. I don’t think that these issues will ever be patched by Bethesda, and without mods I don’t think that they’ll ever be fixed in general. It’s something to be mindful of to anyone going into this game. If the Nintendo Switch is the only way that you can access Skyrim, then I’d say go for it, but don’t expect the game to be perfect. There are still countless bugs in the game that have never been patched. It’s disappointing, but, there isn’t really anything anyone can do. It’s sad, because I do like Skyrim. I liked playing it on the Switch a lot too. It was pretty fun, but its issues were still front and center. I guess this one is a real toss-up for me. If it wasn’t $59.99 I think that I would feel a lot more comfortable recommending this. I mean…beneath its flaws Skyrim has always been an amazing game. But as it stands, I think that Dark Souls: Remastered would probably be the better game to spend money on. You can essentially get a lot of replay value out of both games, probably a lot more from Skyrim, but, the technical issues and price are just where I have to put my foot down. Sorry Bethesda, but throwing in equipment from Zelda doesn’t really do anything for me. I would have rather seen the time and resources used to put that equipment into the game instead used on fixing some of the games issues. It isn’t like Skyrim is a new game, it’s been out for years. There is just no excuse for these problems to still exist. Anyways – I’d recommend waiting for a price drop to anyone interested on purchasing Skyrim for the Nintendo Switch. Like I said, it isn’t a perfect version, but – it’s still Skyrim. So I guess that’s something.

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