Skyrim Nintendo Switch Review: Fus Ro on the Go

Last October Nintendo gave us our first look at the Nintendo Switch in a now-legendary reveal [...]

skyrim 1

Last October Nintendo gave us our first look at the Nintendo Switch in a now-legendary reveal video, which has since accumulated over 34-million views. I hadn't experienced anticipation and elation like that in several years, and I was sharing the moment with all of my favorite game-loving communities. Together we got our first glimpse of what would eventually be Super Mario Odyssey, but when the trailer faded to black there was one word that flooded the message boards and forums: "Skyrim."

Soon, one word turned into two: "Portable Skyrim." We were enchanted by the idea, the dream, of bringing one of the most celebrated and engrossing open-world games with us anywhere. We wanted to be that guy on the plane; we've wanted to bring the continent of Tamriel with us everywhere we go, and now, we can finally do that. Let me tell you, it's every bit as wonderful as you thought it would be.

I want to say right away that there are absolutely no compromises when playing Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch. It's already been confirmed, but I'll remind you that this is a newer build of Skyrim based on the special edition we saw on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Certain things have been dialed back a bit -- draw distance and certain lighting effects -- but make no mistake: this game looks gorgeous.

I might even be as audacious as to assert that, while playing in handheld or tabletop mode, Skyrim is one of the best-looking games you'll play on the Switch's 6.2 inch screen. I've wasted countless hours playing Skyrim on my gaming PC (sporting a GTX 1060 6GB), but I've strangely found myself stopping and staring in wonder much more often as I play the game on Nintendo's tiny console.

I've finally experienced the sensation, for the first time, of getting completely lost in Skyrim. Laying in bed at night with my Switch propped up on my HORI stand, a Joy-Con resting in each hand and my headphones on, I'm letting myself sink into that beautiful, ambient musical score. The sounds of rich orchestral strings and running water pour into my head as I gaze upon towering, snow-shrouded mountains.

skyrim whiterun

Far below those peaks where I stand the grass is still green, and I swear I can smell the breeze that slips whispering through the many-hued trees that surround the bustling city of Whiterun. It's morning, and the vendors are walking to their stalls; a nearby inn-keep is waiting for a bold adventurer to investigate some haunted ruins which threaten his patrons; far off in the distance a dragon's roar weaves into the breeze; and onward I walk toward Dragonsreach, an imposing stronghold whose topmost tower rivals the surrounding mountains in its majesty. As I lie in bed, my spirits are soaring at the thrill of a fresh adventure.

All of this is yours any time you want it, and when that realization hits you, it hits you like a sack of dragon's bones. This is, in this reviewer's opinion, the definitive way to experience Skyrim. The motion controls you can take or leave for the most part, though I will say that I am in love with delicately twisting the Joy-Con and feeling the subtle clicks of springs and gears as I pick locks. Gyro aiming when using a bow is also a freaking godsend, and something that more developers and porting suits need to consider (we're looking at you, Panic Button!).

What else needs to be said? You all know Skyrim. This is a highly-polished, portable Skyrim with Nintendo-Switch-exclusive mechanics that actually add to the experience. While it does retain some of the oddities and sporadic glitches that made the original versions feel so unpredictable, I've yet to experience anything problematic or game-breaking. This is worth every penny, and for the foreseeable future, it will be consuming the majority of my non-working hours.

WWG's Score: 4.5 / 5

skyrim 45