Games Review: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Switch, 2017): Return of the King

Reliving the opening moments of Skyrim always feels a lot like going home. The music, atmosphere and landscapes always bring me right back to my first moments with the game, when I first discovered how monumental and incredible the game truly was. It feels strange, then, to be reviewing it in 2017, six years after it first released.

Since 2011, Skyrim has been released in many forms, with regular, legendary and special editions, as well as the soon to be released PlayStation VR port. It’s easy to treat these re-releases with some cynicism — the words ‘flogging’ and ‘dead horse’ might come to mind — but one fact will always remain: that Skyrim is one of the most enduring, worthwhile fantasy RPGs ever made. Even after playing Skyrim on PlayStation 3, 4 and PC, I still found new things to love about it here.

It was quite frankly surreal booting up Skyrim on Switch. I mean, Skyrim? On a Nintendo console? In 2017? Absolutely wild. But it’s a choice that just works. With the addition of some fun motion controls, Skyrim on Switch still feels fresh. The new lock-picking system, which utilises the Switch’s motion controls, is a brilliant addition to the game, and presents an addictive challenge.

Likewise, the motion-controlled bow and arrow system is just plain fun and allows for an extra layer of immersion. Being able to swing your joy-cons around for sword attacks is equally as fun, and brings new layers to Skyrim‘s combat system.

What struck me most about Skyrim on Switch was how smoothly it handled. In some cases, I felt that the controls worked far better and more intuitively on Switch than they did on either the console or PC versions. The motion controls make up for the occasionally unbalanced combat that’s become a staple of Skyrim, and provide a whole range of new options for battle. Overall, Skyrim utilises the joy-cons well, innovating and building on its original combat system.

As always Skyrim on Switch suffers the usual glitches – characters spawning and de-spawning at random intervals, texturing issues and clipping, but would it really be Skyrim without them? Despite a crash or two, there wasn’t anything major that might cause concern. For the most part, Skyrim runs smoothly on Switch, and really shows off the power of the console. It’s able to render great distances in full textured detail, and looks frankly awesome on the smaller handheld screen.

When docked, Skyrim still looks fantastic – while it doesn’t quite reach the remastered heights of Skyrim: Special Edition, it’s still a few steps above the original release and makes full use of the Switch’s graphical capabilities. The landscapes are crisp and bright, and have been adapted brilliantly for the Switch.

At 14.3GB, the digital release of Skyrim is one of the heftier releases on the Switch, and will take up roughly half of the internal system storage. If you were planning on downloading the title, I’d recommend a hefty MicroSD card.

While Skyrim’s Switch port isn’t necessary for those who’ve played the title before, it adds enough that it still feels fun, and Tamriel is a world that’s always worth coming back to. For those experiencing it for the first time, the stunning realms of Skyrim have never been more fun and accessible.

Review Score: 8.0 out of 10
Highlights: Smooth combat, well translated graphics, fun motion controls, Samuel L. Jackson voice: “SKYRIM ON A PLANE!”
Lowlights: Skyrim fatigue — Todd, pls, end our suffering
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: November 17th
Platforms: Nintendo Switch

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.