Is The Nintendo Switch The Best Place To Experience Skyrim?

In-depth RPG fun on your commute

Previously published in December 2019

Skyrim. A game that can be played on last-gen consoles, current-gen consoles, PC and even Alexa-devices. Bethesda have ported it to device after device, and for good reason – Skyrim is one of gaming’s best player-dictated experiences. Should the Nintendo Switch be the new home of your stealthy archer or your fireball-wielding mage?

An open-ended sandbox, Skyrim casts you as Dragonborn – the chosen one – but that’s about the only time it pigeonholes the player. If you’d like to be an explorer, hunting through caves for rare treasure to use or sell, that’s totally fine. Train to become a thief, a mage, or an assassin if you’d prefer. In fact, why not all three? Maybe you’ll get married and raise a child in a home you designed yourself.

This flexibility plays into the game’s combat, too. If you’d like to headshot cultists from afar with a bow, the option is there, or you can get in close and swing you sword. A personal favourite of mine is to cast black magic from one hand while healing myself with the other.

While all of this may sound perfect for the larger screens in your home, consider the prospect of unearthing a world of secrets on your morning commute. Slay a dragon on your lunch break. While there are certainly other games that display the Switch’s focus on portability just as well, Skyrim feels epic.

This is all padded by the inclusion of some impressive DLC, too. Skyrim on Switch includes Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn. Dawnguard offers the chance to turn your character into a Vampire or Werewolf, which is exactly as fun as it sounds. Hearthfire allows for the aforementioned creation of a custom home, while Dragonborn is arguably the largest of the three – adding a new area and the ability to ride dragons. The “Radial Quest” system also allows for a near infinite number of smaller quests, keeping your adventures rolling long into the years to come.

Of course, the elephant in the room is a certain Switch exclusive which is also an open-world RPG. While The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild presents it’s own stylised world (and a beautifully realised one at that), you’re unlikely to see Link kill everyone in a town while they sleep, or emerge from the game’s opening looking like a cat or a lizard.

As you’d expect from a game originally released in 2011, Skyrim is showing its age. While mods can help ease this on other platforms (more on that later), the Switch version holds up surprisingly well alongside the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One editions. It’ll never look beautiful on your Switch, but it doesn’t need that to pull you into it’s harsh, cold world.

Skyrim’s longevity is as much down to the ingenuity of its users as it is the design of the game itself. A quick browse through Bethesda’s site, or the Steam workshop, reveals hundreds of mods that can do anything from remove spiders for Arachnophobes or improve the visuals of the game. There are even new animations for your character, all created by a community that has existed since 2011. There is no easy way to say this, but none of this is a possibility on the Nintendo Switch. Those looking to battle Thomas The Tank-shaped Dragons are out of luck.

Of course, the Switch does offer its own additions. Being able to swing a sword with your joy-con sound like a mild distraction at best, it actually plays well and adds more dynamism to combat – although maybe don’t start swinging your arms on your commute and/or lunch break. Amiibo support adds exclusive items from the aforementioned Breath of the Wild, too.

The Switch may not be the best place to play Skyrim if you’re looking for mod support, but it may well be for those that just want the base game with its expansions. Skyrim remains a world which is begging to be explored – it’s a question with a million answers, none of them incorrect and none of them suggested as anything more than just possibility. It truly is a modern classic, and deserves another look on the Switch.


Updated: Apr 11, 2020

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