It’s a game worth yelling about!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released six years ago today, and in that time it has spawned several memes, been deemed a buggy disaster (by some), and become one of the best-selling video games of all time. Skyrim has also probably become one of the most influential RPGs of the previous decade, transforming the landscape of RPGs and attracting a large number of newbies to the genre. Bethesda’s open-world epic was warmly received, winning numerous “Game of the Year” honors, and now it can be played on a Nintendo device for the first time!
The game begins with you on the back of a horse-drawn wagon being driven to your execution along with other hostages. It seems that you were wrongfully detained while trying to cross the border and were caught in an ambush. When you arrive at your ultimate destination, you see your traveling companions being summoned one by one to meet their creator. You’re not on the list, and when you’re asked who you are, you’re sent to the game’s character creation screen, where you may choose your race and look. It’s around this time that you’ll begin to appreciate how large and wide this game is. Your character will be shaped by the choices you make since each race has various abilities in the 18 different talents available. It’s straight to the chopping block and off with your head after you’ve decided on your brave warrior! What a waste of time after spending so much effort crafting the ideal Khajiit, eh?
Of course, your head stays securely on your shoulders, since the settlement is besieged by a dragon only seconds before the ax falls. This initial segment acts as a kind of tutorial, and you’ll soon be fending off troops and dodging the dragon’s fire. Before you complete your escape and reemerge back into daylight, the game takes you through a keep and down into a series of caverns where all you see are various shades of brown and beige, before you complete your escape and reemerge back into daylight, experiencing one of the game’s first (of many) jaw-dropping moments.
Skyrim’s setting is breathtaking, and the game still looks great after six years. It’s nothing short of incredible that you can now play this on a portable console. One of those gaming memories that will linger with me for a long time is walking out into the game’s open-world for the first time and seeing this vivid, living playground that has been constructed for you to explore. This game allows you to explore every nook and corner — if you can see it, you can get to it. One of the things that makes Skyrim so great is the sense of exploration; you’ll frequently get sidetracked on your way to the next story mission, and before you know it, you’ve completed a dozen side quests, killed a few dragons, and ended up further away from the mission marker than you started all those hours ago.
There are a few instances when objects appear as you approach them, like as branches on trees and smoke billowing over a fortress in one of the early missions, but nothing that can’t be overlooked. The game also looks and operates better than the last-gen versions it is based on, with the frame rate keeping consistent no matter how many villagers were assaulting me onscreen at the same time because I slipped and Fus-Ro-Dah’d one of their family to death. I also observed a strange audio problem where I would sometimes hear a brief, harsh static noise with no logical explanation, although this had no significant influence on anything and was more of a nuisance. Apart from the first load into the game from the main menu, the load times as you transition from dungeons and cities to the open-world are lovely and quick, putting you back into the action in a matter of seconds, ensuring that you are not distracted from the game for too long.
The plot of the game casts you as the Dragonborn (or Dovahkiin in Skyrim language). You may swallow the souls of dragons after you’ve slain them as this chosen one, thus killing them. You’ll meet these animals as you go through the major plot objectives and side tasks, but it’s the chance encounters that are the most horrifying — hearing one growl as you emerge from a tunnel with your health bar drained after battling a troll will frighten even the most valiant of warriors. The souls you acquire are utilized to unlock “shouts,” which are dragon-language sentences made up of strong words that may be used to unleash deadly effects. Nothing in this game is more rewarding than creeping up on an adversary and yelling them over a cliff – these abilities are not only really beneficial in the game, but they also make you feel like a total badass!
To fully unleash the power of these cries, you’ll need to discover word walls throughout the game, which you’ll come across while completing the main objective and side quests. While the major objectives follow the game’s overarching tale, the side quests have their own fleshed-out storylines that go further into the mythology and history of the planet and all of its conflicts, drawing you deeper into the amazing, magical sandbox.
Completing these objectives and murdering your adversaries, however, does not award your character any experience points, unlike in most other RPGs. Instead, Skyrim allows you to level up in one of the most natural methods I’ve ever seen. You may level up 18 separate talents, which combine to determine your total character level. For example, if you wanted to enhance your archery skills, you could only do so by equipping your bow and shooting it. This kind of leveling struck me as a new, natural approach to leveling that encourages players to try out all of the talents offered. All of these powers and skills are available via one of the greatest inventory systems I’ve ever seen in an RPG – one that still functions well today and doesn’t seem cramped on the screen while playing in portable mode.
Additionally, Bethesda’s usage of the Nintendo Switch’s Amiibo and motion control capability adds several additional features to the Nintendo Switch edition. With the touch of a Link Amiibo, you may unlock Master Sword and a Breath of the Wild costume for your character in the game — these things can also be obtained in the game via exploration, so don’t feel left out if you’re not an Amiibo collector like me. Bethesda has also integrated the Joy-motion Con’s control features, allowing you to swing weapons, raise a shield, shoot your bow and arrow, and pick locks using this technique. I tried this technique a few times throughout my time with the game, and although it was entertaining and new, I ended up going back to the Pro Controller for the rest of my time with it.
Overall, Skyrim is still as wonderful, if not better, than it was when it was initially launched more than half a decade ago. The fact that this version plays flawlessly on the Nintendo Switch is absolutely remarkable, especially given that even the remastered PS4 and Xbox One versions had their fair share of bugs when they first came out. This is a game that will consume all of your time if you chose to play it; you could easily spend more than forty hours playing it and not even scratch the surface of the basic game – much alone the three DLC packs included in this version.
I understand that most people are familiar with Skyrim and that many of you have already played it and are merely reading this to see how it fares on the Nintendo Switch.
So, it’s Skyrim, it plays well, it functions, and it’s portable – what more could you want for?