Skyrim was released in 2011. Six years later (almost to the day), it’s still relevant.
So relevant in fact that we thought it was worth a revisit with our review of the Special Edition, and worth covering yet again on Switch. Such is the power of Elder Scrolls.
While the setting of Skyrim still isn’t as outrageously satisfying as Vvardenfell, the ability to create your own adventure lends itself well to a portable platform.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC, PS3, PS4, Switch [reviewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Released: November 17, 2017
Skyrim‘s age isn’t really that big of a factor for me, as someone who still plays much older Elder Scrolls games. As much as we like to poke fun at the engine it holds up, and allows you to freely go from place to place — that works. Yet, I’m not quite as blown away by a 2011 game running well on Switch as I was with Doom. It makes even less sense to see some of the same physics and environmental bugs after all this time.
The Switchiest thing about this version is the motion controls — and the best thing about them is that they’re optional. Look, I get that seeing Shigeru Miyamoto present Skyward Sword on stage, where he was using two remotes as extensions of his hands was really cool, but no tech to date outside of the Oculus Touch controllers have actually mastered it.
The Joy-Con are great controllers, and motion has been mostly fine so far, but it’s not something I need to use for Skyrim. Swinging a Joy-Con to block or thrust is fun the first few times, but after you’ve overworked yourself a bit doing a power slash (read: flailing with more force) you’ll want to quickly go back to a more traditional method. Again, gripped Joy-Con, a Pro Controller, or tablet mode work perfectly fine here.
The addition of amiibo support is its other big Switch thing, which neither detracts or adds to the general appeal of Skyrim. By plopping a Zelda amiibo on an NFC point (basically any figure) you have a chance to unlock one of three specific themed items, or extra general gear. If you don’t have any Zelda amiibo you can also opt to grab items from an in-game treasure chest.
That doesn’t sound too exciting, right? Well again, they aren’t forced on you in any way, and one could feasibly play 100+ hours without bothering with Switch-centric stuff. Even though I wasn’t spurred into a full sidequest playthrough, I did have a blast just running around causing havoc, slaying dragons, and picking a place to call home all over again.
Oh, and it has all the major expansions, but not the mod suite that the Special Editions employ. You have some new novelty things like the Zelda gear and the motion controls, and the huge bonus of portability, but give up give up the ghost on any semblance of long term mod support. It’s a decision you’ll have to make, not to mention the much lower pricepoints of nearly every other version to consider (a factor that didn’t impact this review, but you should be aware of it).
Bethesda already has a great track record on the system between this and Doom. Despite the fact that it’s probably being developed for refrigerators at this point, Skyrim is a great choice to port to the Switch. Very little had to actually be compromised, and unless you have a thing for high-res texture packs on PC, you aren’t missing out on much. The amiibo bits and motion controls aren’t as groundbreaking as you’d think, but the rest of Skyrim is here, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher. This review is unscored as we just scored the Special Edition on top of the base game, but it is recommended.]