Skyrim Runs Ridiculously Well on the Switch

It finally happened. The day has finally come where disappearing into a Skyrim Virtual Reality is an actual reality, and we can take that massive world with us anywhere and everywhere we go. Skyrim VR is something we’ve all been dreaming about for decades, but I’m still not convinced it’s anything more than a fad, let alone where gaming is actually headed. Portable Skyrim for the Nintendo Switch, on the other hand, has completely defied my initial skepticism. Nintendo and Bethesda have been teasing Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch since the console was announced back in 2016, but I don’t think anyone expected the game to run this well, let alone look almost identical to other consoles with twice the Switch’s power.

I cannot stress enough how amazing Skyrim looks on the Switch. I’ve been primarily playing in Handheld Mode, the way I prefer to play everything on the Switch, and I can proudly report that the experience has been largely free of issues (outside of Bethesda’s infamous glitches, of course). The game is smooth and crisp, despite its arguably basic 720p resolution, and I have yet to find any obvious sacrifices to achieve this performance. It’s only been about a year or two since the Skyrim Special Edition remaster released on the PC, PS4, and XBOX One, but I can honestly say that even though the Switch version doesn’t look quite as spectacular, it really does stand its ground against its more powerful cousins. (Look no further than the screenshots in this article, if you want proof. All of them were taken on the Nintendo Switch.)

I know this all sounds like ridiculously high praise, and it is, but I think it’s safe to say that a lot of the beauty, performance, and magic that’s making me say these things owe their success to the actual hardware; that is, the Switch and its tiny screen. Everything looks really detailed and sharp on the Switch’s built-in LCD panel, but only probably because the lower resolution makes all of the textures, the trees, and the foliage appear unified and cohesive, as though they are being displayed with the same level of clarity. Put the game on max settings in 4K on my fancy, custom-built gaming PC, and while the game does look stunning, the cohesion largely melts away to reveal, in excruciatingly sharp detail, all of the little discrepancies between what was made for the remaster and what was made six plus years ago for the original release of the game. Granted, the Switch plugged into a TV has the same effect, and only tilts this comparison in favor of the 4K Special Edition.

Beyond performance, resolutions, and version differences, however, Skyrim feels more at home on the Switch than on other consoles, and this is something that has only further entrenched me in the Switch. There is hardly anything about it that differentiates it from the other versions of the game, and this is not a bad thing. That a game I’ve come to love so much—a staple and cornerstone of my growth as a gamer, really—is now accessible anywhere I go is unbelievable. Not mention, the Switch allows the experience to be a continuous one, to be put on pause whenever daily life beckons, and it’s something I’ve fallen deeply in love with about the Switch and its version of Skyrim. When I get tired, or when my lunch break is over, I don’t have to save and turn it off. Instead, even if I’m in the middle of a dungeon crawling with draugrs, all I have to do is put the Switch to sleep, and pick it back up whenever I want without any load screens or backtracking, without any hitch whatsoever.

Put short, Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch is yet another strong reason to buy in to Nintendo’s comeback console. It’s the same game we’ve all come to love, and it runs like a dream. Time and time again I find myself in awe of how beautiful it is, just as I did when I first played the game on the PS3, and I still can’t believe that it’s running on a system like the Switch, which is only a tiny fraction of the PS3’s size. If this is your first trip to Skyrim, you can rest assured that you are sacrificing nothing by playing it on the Switch, and if this is your second (or third, or seventh) trip, you can rest assured that it will still find ways to delight you, let alone instill that same sense of nostalgia we’ve all come to adore.

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