Skyrim Nintendo Switch review: Breath of the dragon

Credit: Bethesda
Credit: Bethesda /

Skyrim for the Nintendo Switch offers another grand open world adventure you can take with you for Nintendo’s burgeoning console

Developer: Bethesda
Publisher: Bethesda
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: November 17, 2017

Skyrim is without a doubt one of the most popular games of the last generation, and it seems to keep coming to new platforms every now and again to keep the popularity going. Originally released for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, it came to the PS4 and Xbox One last year with significant graphical enhancements and mod support, and is coming to VR in just a few days.

Arguably the more interesting and potentially exciting port that was announced earlier this year is the one of Skyrim for Nintendo’s new portable console, the Switch. Sure, it wouldn’t have VR or the enhanced graphics you’d find on the new editions for PS4 and Xbox One, but finally, you would have an epic game like Skyrim on the go, just as untethered and free as you are to do pretty much whatever you want in the game itself. But while this version of Skyrim would have all the DLC previously released, it would also be missing the mods many find so popular that can make the game more crazy or fun or just fix some of the worst issues with the game. So is the trade-off of portable Skyrim worth missing out on those other things?

Credit: Bethesda /

Skyrim is a six-year-old game that while very impressive for its time, ran pretty well on the Xbox 360, so it running well on the Nintendo Switch isn’t that impressive of a feat. But yes, Skyrim looks and plays on the Switch like a little smoother version of the 360/PS3 versions. Admittedly, against more modern games like Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild, which was heavily influenced by Bethesda’s open-world RPG, you might notice some things didn’t age all that well. A lot of the colors are drab, the character models are dead-eyed and stiff, etc. But that’s always been true, so if it didn’t really bother you before, it shouldn’t be a problem now.

Skyrim is also a massive open world game, and every version has had some bugs. The Nintendo Switch didn’t escape this either, but for the most part, it was just amusing stuff. I would see things occasionally floating in mid-air, mammoths magically drop out of the sky, etc. In my time with the game, it only crashed once, and I have certainly had the original versions crash way more often. The game does autosave quite often minimize any loss of progress, but if you also regularly save on your own it probably would rarely be an issue.

Credit: Bethesda /

[Is] the Switch version of Skyrim is the definitive one? That depends on how much you value access to mods.

Besides portability, the other unique feature added to Skyrim for the Switch is what else but motion controls! You can swing the Joy Cons to attack or defend and also to aim your bow! For what it is worth, these work as intended, but especially given that combat in this game is somewhat clunky to begin with, I can’t imagine anyone using them for an extended period of time.

So how much does the ability to take Skyrim on the go add to the game? For me personally, a lot. I’ve played a ton of Bethesda open world games. I’ve spent hundreds of hours between MorrowindOblivion, and Fallout 3. But while I certainly played a fair share of Skyrim and later Fallout 4, the dropoff was pretty significant. I would say I’ve spent maybe 45-50 hours a piece on those last two. I certainly had some grand adventures and got my money’s worth, but they just didn’t have the same pull as the previous games for me. Bethesda open-world RPGs do have a formula to them, and maybe I was just getting tired of it. I don’t really care about mods and I actually have the enhanced PS4 version, so does this version even have any appeal to someone like me?

Credit: Bethesda /

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The answer is a surprising yes. The speed of the Switch hardware (there is some loading but not much) to let me just jump back in anywhere I take it with me does add a ton of value for me and this is a version I would play over virtually any other because of that. Does this mean the Switch version of Skyrim is the definitive one? That depends on how much you value access to mods. Regardless, Skyrim remains an epic adventure even years later. If somehow you have never played it, you definitely must and even if you own a version, if you are still playing it, odds are you’ll want it on the go as well.

8.5. Skyrim on the Switch may not allow you to have dragons that look like wrestlers, but it remains an epic adventure well worth undertaking and many may prefer the ability to have it with them wherever they go.. Bethesda. . Skyrim

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.