Skyrim Nintendo Switch Review

  1. Game: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  2. Platforms: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)
  3. Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
  4. Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
  5. A complimentary copy was provided for this review.

First released a little over six years ago today, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was met with bundles of hype and has largely lived up to those expectations. The initial release came on the Xbox 360 and PS3, along with the PC, and has since been ported to the Xbox One and PS4 under the guise of the Special Edition.

If you’re somehow unaware of what Skyrim is, the basic gist of things is you’re a character who was taken prisoner and you’re saved by a dragon attack. After a quick tutorial, you’re free to go and do whatever you want. Sure, there’s a main quest to follow but there’s also a giant world to explore. If you’re a fan of Breath of the Wild, surely there’s a lot you will like here.

This enhanced version gave console players mod support, better graphics and just an all-around smoother performance than the last generation of consoles. With the Nintendo Switch version, we’re looking at something between the vanilla version and the Special Edition. We haven’t been outright told what version this is but I can say it does feature nice looking features that I’m not sure were present in the original versions.

First things first, Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch looks and performs like a dream. Let me backtrack a little bit, the game performs as well as the Switch will let it, that means we won’t be pushing 4K 60 FPS or anything like that but instead we’re looking at similar quality as the Special Edition. I don’t have any way to measure the resolution of the game but I can say that it has surprised me with the level of quality.

After the news of DOOM running with a much lower resolution, I had my concerns with the Skyrim port but they have been alleviated. If you’re playing the game docked, it’ll take more than a quick glance to discern whether this is the PS4 version or the Switch version. If you are at all concerned about performance and graphics, they should not worry you with this title. I’ve run into no issues with my time with the game in both docked and handheld modes. One thing I’d like to point out is the long load times. The initial load into the game is very lengthy but things go a lot quicker once you’re actually in the game. The initial load takes about a minute on average while fast traveling takes a fraction of that.

Since Skyrim is six years old, it can be a tough sell for players today, especially at $60. During the E3 2017 trailer, we saw some Nintendo-themed twists in the game such as the chests from Breath of the Wild and the ability to get the Master Sword and Hylian Shield, along with the Champion’s Tunic. This equipment can either be obtained through the use of amiibo or by going to a certain location in the game. These small changes don’t add a lot but they are fun little additions that can make your third or fourth time buying this title a little different.

One of the big selling points of the Special Edition version on PS4 and Xbox One was the addition of mods. The Switch version doesn’t have mod support which strikes a major blow into the game for many. Admittedly, it was a bit jarring to come from the PC version to the Switch version and not see blood splatter everywhere (yes, there’s blood in the Switch version) when the prisoner is decapitated at the beginning of the game.

Mods can help add to the longevity of a game, with a premier example being Skyrim itself, so it’s a little disappointing to not see mods on this version. We don’t know if they were left out due to hardware limitations or not but we do know they just aren’t there.

Motion controls make an appear in the Switch version and I can say they represent some of the best motion controls options I’ve seen in a game in quite some time. Many Nintendo titles have been implementing motion controls for years such as with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Splatoon with the Gyro controls. It isn’t very often that you’ll see a third-party game implement them with such success. In fact, I have to think back to Resident Evil 4 on the Wii as the last time I truly enjoyed having motion controls in a third-party game.

Motion controls work simple with Skyrim, you have a shield in one hand and a sword in the other. You swing your sword by swinging your Joy-Con (swing harder for a power attack) and raise your other Joy-Con if you want to block with your shield. You are still bounded by your character’s animation so you can’t swing freely and rapidly and still expect to connect with your enemy. If you use a bow, just pull it out and you’ll have motion controls in terms of aiming it at your enemy.

Lockpicking also received the motion controls treatment but that can take some getting used to. Picking a lock requires actually rotating your Joy-Cons which can become a little uncomfortable in your hands. Thankfully, motion controls are completely optional in Skyrim so you don’t have to play with detached Joy-Cons if you don’t want to.

Bottom Line

Skyrim Nintendo Switch

Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch is joyous romp through the same world you’ve experience time and time again. It can be a tough sell if you already own the game on other platforms, notably the PC version or the Special Edition. If you’re coming from the Xbox 360 and PS3 version, this version is definitely worth it since it comes bundled with all the DLC and features some increased visuals and performance.

The Nintendo Switch is turning a little into an open-world machine. First we had Breath of the Wild, now we have Skyrim and next month we have Xenoblade Chronicles 2. For a machine boasting much lower specs than its competitors, it’s pretty impressive to have such huge worlds make appearances on the console. All of this is made better by the fact all of these games can be taken on the go.

If you want a portable Skyrim in your life that looks and performs great, look no further than Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch.

Score: 9/10


  • Excellent port
  • Good use of motion controls
  • Works well handheld as well as docked
  • Zelda-themed equipment
  • Same experience as other platforms
  • Comes with all DLC


  • No mod support
  • Price is a little steep
  • Long load times

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