Skyrim Switch Review – Pretty and Portable

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All that the light touches … shall be yours.

by Jason Parker (Ragachak)

Here be Dargons — Jarl of Windhelm

There are many people that feel that Skyrim is the best RPG ever made. I am not counted among those, however. Please don’t blast me for it, but I do enjoy Skyrim, but it’s not in my top five or even ten. The story did not really capture me because it felt sort of shallow. But you know what I love? The power to be and do whatever I feel like. I do have a pretty bad case of Decision Paralysis, but when that starts acting up and I clamp up, I find a quest chain to do and work on that instead. It really takes the edge off. I suppose it was only a matter of time before Skyrim hit the Switch; even before it was announced, I had a feeling it would hit the portable console. It’s a fantastic test to see just what this console can handle if it’s really a powerful machine. As it turns out, the console is just fine, and it runs Skyrim beautifully. Don’t get me wrong, though: I enjoy Skyrim quite a lot. It’s just not (in my eyes) the best game of all time. This one lies around the quality of Skyrim: Special Edition in my estimation, and visually, looks leaps and bounds better than XB360/PS3 versions of the game. But it is one of the most celebrated and acclaimed RPGs in this or any generation and for good reason.

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I was amazed at how pretty this version can be.

The story, as I said, is very simple. At least on the outset. You’re the legendary Dovahkin, the Dragonborn. It’s your job to put right all of these asshole dragons flying around causing a ruckus. Well, there’s only one at first, but once you’ve pressed into the story just a little bit, you won’t be able to swing a dead skeever without a dragon flying down to harass you. I actually didn’t know that the first time I played this game, because once I was told, “Hey, you have to go fight this legendary, incredibly powerful dragon with a handful of troops”, I decided I didn’t really want to do that. Instead, my Dunmer (Dark Elf) wandered into the countryside, leaving those people to their fate for the time being. After all, they’ll wait. Instead, I wandered the land, becoming a deadly assassin and then a trainee at the magic college. I pummeled bandits into submission, kept their loot for myself, grew immeasurably powerful. I collected many of the “Shout” keywords, even though I couldn’t use them yet. The time would come when I could though. That’s what I do love about this game, being able to just wander the land and find an adventure. Not to mention when it’s docked, it’s 1080, and when portable, it’s still 720p.

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Some herbs, coins and a soul gem. Thanks, Wario.

So the game’s still very pretty. I was genuinely shocked at how gorgeous it looked on my screen, both portable and otherwise. You have a few ways to play as well. You can use the controller, you can hold the screen with the joycons, or you could just use a joycon and wield power in an all-new way, using motion controls. However, I’m not wild about motion controls, never have been. It works great, but the best part is using your joycons to pick locks. I’m so bad at that, but it’s so awesome to do. It makes you feel like an actual brigand, picking locks to steal peoples’ stuff. So there are definitely options. Speaking of new stuff, one of the really cool things about this version, is that it has Amiibo support. Have any Zelda Amiibos? I don’t, sadly, but I know enough people that do! I needed an excuse to buy Zelda Amiibos anyway … You can use the “Amiibo” spell in game once a day. What the end result is a Treasure Chest falls from the sky, which has a random assortment of stuff in it, from weapons, armor, to just herbs and spices. The Zelda Amiibos have a better chance for the Hylian Shield, Master Sword and Champions Tunic, and from what I understand they can also be improved with in-game smithing/etc. You can only do it once a day though, so use it wisely.

Fus-Roh-Huh? 4/5

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Rocks for dinner, again? Being a peasant sucks.

The only major downside is for fans of modding. I know more than one person who have Skyrim files that contain 100+GB of mods. It changes the game in unreal ways, making the bad parts of the game (spells) work gloriously, and in some cases, changes the entire landscape. You can do amazing things with some code and time, but not on this version. There are no plans to add mods at this point, according to Bethesda, but never say never. I think that it would be a strain on the hard drive of the Switch, personally, but I could see it working somehow. It does have all three DLC packs with it, but nope, no mods. This is, what I have dubbed, the purest version of Skyrim. It’s pretty to look at, the things that work still work, and the things that weren’t as fun are definitely still not as fun. If you travel a lot, and want an epic game with 100s of hours of content, or simply want to play it again (or for the first time, Hell, I’m not judging), you’ll get a lot out of this. While Skyrim’s not my favorite RPG of all time (That goes to EarthBound), I do enjoy it, and this version of it immensely. I get bogged down by all that modding stuff, to be honest. This is the version for me without a doubt.

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