The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Nintendo Switch Review: Feels Good The Seventh Time

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has made its way to the Switch. How does the epic RPG hold up six years later?


When the Nintendo Switch was officially revealed in October of 2016 (wow it’s been that long?) I was pretty skeptical when I saw The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim running on the system. There was no way a game of that capacity could run so smoothly on this portable console, there had to be a catch. I’m delighted to tell you that I was wrong. Skyrim on the Switch is one of the best ports I’ve played in a long time.

Getting Technical

Looking at it from a technical standpoint, I’m not sure what kind of witchcraft Nintendo and Bethesda used to compact this massive game into a 14GB file without a very noticeable compromise. While I’m sure they had to cut corners somewhere, they do a good job at hiding it. Skyrim runs like a dream on Switch. You’re able to hop in and out and swap playstyle modes on the fly, just as you would with a core Switch title. I experienced zero framerate drops, and the visuals are as beautiful as they can be for a game that initially launched in 2011. One of my largest gripes with vanilla Skyrim was the painfully long loading screens. There were times when I’d find myself waiting well over a minute trying to fast travel between locations. Thankfully, the load times are much shorter when playing on the Switch. I’ll reiterate; I’m not exactly sure how Bethesda and Nintendo were able to pull that off, but having to wait for load times in Skyrim isn’t a burden anymore! The only negative I discovered from a technical standpoint was a minor audio glitch that I experienced in Handheld and TV mode. Once every now and then, the game would quickly blurt out a weird static like sound. Similar to what you would hear from an old TV or bad VHS tape. That being said, it didn’t occur often enough, nor was it disrupting enough to be a major downside. It’s something I imagine could be solved with a small patch.

Image result for skyrim on switch

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

In regards to gameplay, you wouldn’t be wrong to assume that Skyrim on Switch would just be a carbon copy of the exact same game we’ve been replaying for years, but that’s not entirely the case. Yes, it’s pretty much just the special edition ported to a new console. There isn’t any new DLC or expansion pack, but there are some small yet pleasant additions here and there. Skyrim takes advantage of the Switch’s motion controls in a way that isn’t intrusive or annoying. Players can swing the left and right joy-con to use the weapon in their respective hand. You can also very slightly tweak your aim by tilting the joy-cons or tablet when aiming a bow & arrow, similar to what can be done in Zelda: Breath of The Wild. This helped me pinpoint my sights for a more accurate shot. Also, the joy-cons can be used when picking locks. Thanks to the top notch quality of the joy-cons, I found lockpicking even easier when using them.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has grown a reputation for its silly and awkward glitches. The truth is, the majority of those minor are still present. Luckily, none of these glitches are game-breaking, nor do they halt your progression. It simply comes down to what you’re willing to put up with when it comes to silly bugs in videogames. If you're interested in reading what we thought about Skyrim when it initially launched, you can check that out here.


Overall, Skyrim on Switch is as good as I hoped it would be. I still find new areas to explore and new secrets to discover. Being able to take this awesome title on the go truly showcases why the Nintendo Switch is king. Sadly, Skyrim is a 2011 game, and at times it really shows. Because of this, it doesn’t stand up against a game like Breath of The Wild, though that comparison may not be fair. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim proudly stands as the second best RPG available on Switch. If by any chance you’re a Switch owner that’s never played Skyrim, I’d recommend picking it up.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

  • Runs Smoothly
  • Useful Motion Controls
  • Portable Skyrim
  • Skyrim is Showing its Age
  • Some Minor Bugs
From The Chatty
  • reply
    November 16, 2017 3:01 AM

    Donovan Erskine posted a new article, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Nintendo Switch Review: Feels Good The Seventh Time

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      November 16, 2017 4:15 AM

      FYI, I remember the install size for vanilla Skyrim was something crazy like 6-8 GB so 14 GB for the ultimate edition makes sense

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      November 16, 2017 6:50 AM

      This really makes me want to get a switch so I can play skyrim in bed :(

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      November 16, 2017 7:11 AM

      Motion bow+arrow controls!! This will be the best thieves guild run EVAR

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      November 16, 2017 8:29 AM

      Kinda bummed about only 30fps, but I'm excited about playing Skyrim on a handheld.

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      November 16, 2017 8:31 AM

      I am in for portable Skyrim, and by all accounts this is a fantastic port, but not for $60, are you nuts?! $40 would be much more reasonable but I still wouldn't really feel great about it. Seems like $20-$30 would be the right price for a 6 year old game.

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        November 16, 2017 8:54 AM

        I could stomach it if I never played it before, but as it is I've already purchased the game twice. I'll pick this up when (if) it drops to $30-40.

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          November 16, 2017 9:17 AM

          By purchase the game twice I assume you mean for pc and a console. Me personally I bought it just for PC so it makes sense to buy it on Switch.

          Actually I guess I bought it on PS3 for $5 used a little while back. Still not sure why I did that. It’s sort of comically ugly on PS3.

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            November 16, 2017 9:30 AM

            Yeah, PC first then PS4. If it was just PC I'd probably grab it for Switch without hesitation.

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        November 16, 2017 8:55 AM

        You may be right about that. I try not to let the price of a game influence my review. It's up to you guys to decide if it's worth your $$

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        November 16, 2017 12:01 PM

        I've been out of the loop in games for so long. Don't have space in my apt for a PC rig and only really like Nintendo consoles, so I'm 100% fine paying full price for these games. hell, its actually cheaper since they're including all the DLC. I never got to play doom or Skyrim and now I get to AND its portable!

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      November 16, 2017 9:47 AM

      Anyone buy it yet? Post thoughts here!

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      November 16, 2017 9:48 AM

      I've never completed the main quest or any of the DLC, despite like 200 hours in, so tempting

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        November 16, 2017 1:31 PM

        I enjoyed the main quest. I didnt do the DLC other than make some higher tier armors. Main quest has a fun finish IMO.

        That said if you played 200 hours there's no way this is worth the same price as another brand new switch game.

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          November 16, 2017 1:35 PM

          I'm waiting on Xenoblade, if it looks good I'll get that, otherwise Skyrimjob for $90 Canadian!

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      November 16, 2017 9:49 AM

      What's a fun, different build for someone who has already done sword and board, two handed hammer power hour, and battle mage (fire)?

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      November 16, 2017 10:30 AM

      Great review, Donovan. I'm so glad this port turned out well. Seeing ports of prominent games like Doom 2k16, Skyrim, and Rocket League will give third-party pubs more reasons to develop for Switch, and give consumers confidence that this platform won't follow in the footsteps of the Wii U. Win-win.

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        November 16, 2017 10:31 AM

        Related: If not for Nintendo turning out pure gold this year, I'd nominate Bethesda as Switch's best publisher in its maiden year. Kudos to Bethesda for showing such strong support for a new platform.

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        November 16, 2017 11:55 AM

        It is interesting to see how the Wii U was basically ignored by most publishers but there’s like a land rush to get your titles on the Switch, even though it has the same “least powerful console” issues that the Wii and Wii U had.

        I also think there’s a phenomenon where games that might be ignored on a mature platform get more attention when on a newer, less populated platform and so some of the rush is due to that. I remember that Fire Emblem was never a big series in the USA and then Awakening got a lot of attention on the 3DS because there weren’t a lot of games on it yet.

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          November 16, 2017 3:12 PM

          The Wii U actually had a decent number of third party games at launch. Mass Effect 3, NBA 2K13, FIFA 2013, Assassin's Creed 3, an enhanced port of Batman Arkham City, etc. The problem is that the system tanked and nobody bought the games. Third party evaporated after that. It got so bad that even Rayman Legends, a game for the Wii U's launch window which was expressly designed around the Wii U gamepad was pushed back to release with ports for PS4, XB1, and PC. Its a shame because the Wii U version is far and away the best.

          Its happening kind of opposite here where the system is selling very well while third party games are trickling in the months after. Between the performance of the Wii U and the hybrid nature of the system I don't blame anyone for taking a wait and see approach. I'm actually surprised at the speed at which we're getting some ports, especially DOOM and Rocket League.

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            November 16, 2017 3:54 PM

            Oh yeah, I remember now - there was even Call of Duty Ghosts and whatever the next one was and then they stopped bothering to port things.

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              November 16, 2017 3:55 PM

              Black Ops 2 was on it at launch too, yeah

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            November 16, 2017 4:16 PM

            Gamers circa 2012: Wii U sucks! Too many ports!

            Gamers in 2017: I can't wait to play <old game> on Switch!

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              November 16, 2017 4:18 PM

              I thought the issue was the ports ran like shit on wiiu2

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                November 16, 2017 4:18 PM

                Err. Wiiu

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                November 16, 2017 8:29 PM

                The ports were fine, they generally ran better than their 360/PS3 counterparts. What didn’t help was the confusing hardware/value proposition and other next-gen systems around the corner

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              November 16, 2017 5:28 PM

              Novelty and attraction of handheld portability is great with this gaming console, it is!

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      November 16, 2017 12:47 PM

      Visual comparison

      Aside from DoF and shadows, Switch version looks.... better to my eyes?

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        November 16, 2017 12:58 PM

        I noticed quite a bit of shimmering in the Switch version, probably due to the lower resolution. However it looks like they're using a different shader/color tone and it looks much more vibrant than the PS4. It probably looks really great in handheld mode.

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          November 16, 2017 12:59 PM

          Urge to buy.... rising :(

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            November 16, 2017 1:04 PM

            Yeah I was pretty horny for portable Skyrim until I watched the video you posted and saw that little soulless clockwork child-automaton run through the town lol. Fuck the NPCs look absolutely awful in every Elder Scrolls game.

            Still would really love to have it on my Switch but I think I can wait for a price drop.

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              November 16, 2017 1:06 PM

              Haha yea, love those amazing, deep, life changing npc interactions

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              November 16, 2017 1:32 PM

              Man, what's your problem? Let me guess, someone stole your sweetroll!

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              November 16, 2017 2:40 PM

              I think there's something charming about how robotic Bethesda NPCs are, or at least I'm happy to trade that for how elaborate their AI interactions are.

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          November 16, 2017 2:38 PM

          It looks shockingly good on the handheld screen yeah, very crisp and nice saturated colors.

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          November 16, 2017 7:43 PM

          I noticed that. In some shots, it looks better on the switch to me than ps4. Of course, at the end of the day I played it on PC so this is all moot :(

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        November 16, 2017 2:52 PM


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          November 16, 2017 2:53 PM

          I'm this [°] close, trying to find a reason not to buy

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            November 16, 2017 3:37 PM

            No mods is a pretty big blocker for me

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        November 16, 2017 3:04 PM

        I was thinking that until those foliage shots around 7:21 in that video, big difference there.

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          November 16, 2017 3:15 PM

          yah it has a lot of pop-in on grass and it's isn't quite as dense..

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        November 16, 2017 3:30 PM

        Looks fantastic although the shrubbery pop in is super distracting to me. Might not matter as much when I'm actually playing the game but that kind of stuff does bug me.

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      November 16, 2017 3:06 PM

      Just watched the DF analysis. Its an old game but kudos to the developers for making it look almost as good as the PS4 version on hardware that draws under 1/10th of the power. Its kind of insane, especially when you figure that mobile hardware in a couple years will be capable of doing what the PS4 Slim does today.

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      November 16, 2017 3:11 PM


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      November 16, 2017 4:13 PM

      Forgot how bad combat is in skyrim.
      I feel like that stuff would even work better if they made it less dynamic. Just stand there and roll dice to see if you hit etc

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      November 16, 2017 7:33 PM

      I cannot imagine playing this game without mods.

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      November 16, 2017 8:56 PM

      God damnit I’m going to buy this aren’t I?

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