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Skyrim for the Nintendo Switch
January 27th, 2018
Back in November of 2011, Bethesda released the 5th installment of the Elder Scrolls Series titled "Skyrim". I remember going to the midnight release and being so excited about playing it. After I put the game in, I don't think I did anything else for about a week: the release date was nicely placed in between days where I had prior engagements.
To my delight, after I spent some time with the game, I realized I was not only playing a near masterpiece, but I was playing my new all-time-favorite game.
The Elder Scroll series is all about playing how YOU want to play. The type of character you are, where you will go, what quests you will do, and even whether or not you spend 100 hours playing before you realize you haven't decided on which route to go for the main quest! The Elder Scrolls games are all about freedom. You go where you want, you do what you want, and you play the style you want. Not much in the game is forced on you.
To many, this much freedom is more of hindrance than something to be celebrated. Usually I find the people who don't like it are the ones who need to be led every step of the way in a game. If that's your style, then stay far away from the Elder Scrolls series. For me, this is pure heaven.
You start the game, as you start every Elder Scrolls game, a prisoner whose calling in life is meant to be so much more. In Skryim, you are plunged straight into your execution, which is halted by a dragon attacking the city. As everyone is fleeing in a panic, you are given your first choice of following the guard, or following the man you were to be executed with who is the resistance leader and would be king, if it weren't for the current government. No matter who you choose to follow, you are still given the choice of which side you will fall in line with.
As you gain your freedom after the dragon attack, you can roam the land, look for dungeons, or follow a quest line that will lead you to whichever faction you choose. Along the way, you learn you are "Dragonborn" and have the power to absorb the souls of the dragons you defeat. Souls unlock dragon shouts and after completing a small quest, you learn of your abilities and learn that many dragon words are on walls throughout the land. When a word is found, you absorb it into your soul and you empower them with the souls of dragons you have defeated. Each word has three parts and gains power when you learn the additional words.
Yes, this is an "older" game, having been released back in 2011, but the beauty of the game is that it has been remastered and, to put it quite simply, is the greatest game ever created. To have this game come to the Switch is a big deal because we now have the greatest game of all time on the system, and I can take it wherever I want. Each month, I have to have an infusion up at the hospital, and it usually takes about 2 1/2 hours. Being able to undock my switch and take it with me really is a dream come true. I continue my game from where I left off at home on the TV and play it on the table in front of me during my procedure.
Yes, the familiar places are still there and look great.
One of the best things about the Elder Scrolls game is that there are very few boundaries. what you see is your "playground" where if you see a mountain way off in the distance, you can go to it. The amount of freedom is the biggest draw for me.
For the Switch, I decided I would finally (after all these years) play a straight mage where all my skills were put into magic and not into the typical swords, daggers, armor, and bow. The big joke about Skyrim is that everyone starts out with a certain character type in mind, but all end up a bow shooting, sneaker. I have held true to my desire to play a mage and have taken no points in weapons or armor. Yes, I have died a LOT!!! But, I love it.
Once again, I have started a character, done a bunch of non-essential quest lines, and have leveled up into my 50's without doing any of the main quest. Eventually, when I feel the need to do the main story, I'll actually do it. Most likely that will be when I get bored of all the other stuff and want to try a new type of character. My next character will be a total warrior who uses heavy plate and a huge broad sword. The fun thing is that the type of character you play really does change how you approach things and changes the whole thought process of the game. I think the variety and different approaches you can take are a large part of why this game has had me hooked for so long.
The freedom to go wherever you want, and basically do what you want, is the biggest draw for me.
The game is played in either first person, or third person, which can be toggled with the click of the right analog stick. I prefer the game in first person, but both ways work well. The combat system as far as melee attacks is not overly complex or varied, but you can power attack if you hold down the attack trigger, it will do more damage but leave you staggered if your attack is blocked. The magic system gives you quite a few different alternatives. You can concentrate on the destruction spells such as fireball and other high damaging spells, or you can choose other schools which offer the ability to summon creatures, or summon weapons to use. There are a lot of different combinations to use, and there is no one right way. Again, freedom is what this game is all about. When using weapons, you can use short blades all the way up to the big two handed swords, and there are a variety of skills to take to make your attacks more potent.
The dragon fights can be pretty epic.
While I have reviewed this game previously on the Xbox 360 (and sung its praise!), the Switch version needed a review for a few important issues. The game plays just as well on the Switch as it does on any system and it is identical in content and gameplay mechanics as any other version. It is based off the remastered versions you will see on the PC, XBox One, and PS4, but subtle differences in the amount of foliage that is on the ground are really the only difference in this ever so slightly scaled back version. This is a fair trade-off for the benefits of being able to take this wherever you want.
Just don't play while driving...
For this version, they have also added special motion controls using the Joy-Cons. You can swing your weapon or cast a spell with the swipe of you controller, or shoot your bow by holding the Joy-Cons up and holding a button down to hold on to the string, and pulling the right controller back and letting go of the button to shoot the arrow. While it works, it's not really a selling point, and is just a nice extra. But, the one thing they did really well was the lock picking with the Joy-Cons. You hold one up to position your lock pick and turn it and the character on the screen follows your actions in trying to get the lock to open. The lock picking works really well, as does the bow and arrow, but beyond that I don't really care for the motion controls and just use my Pro Controller (Nintendo's new controller is very nice and feels almost as good as an XBox controller).
It's games like this that are the reason I love gaming. I have hundreds of games, and this is easily the best. I even got my wife to play this. She plays a short little mage and just runs around picking flowers and running from danger. But again, it's all in how you want to play it. The choice is yours.
Bottom Line: I simply cannot sing this game's praise enough. I love this game, and having it on the Switch just makes it that much sweeter. Being able to take this with me wherever I go is fantastic. I applaud Bethesda for bringing this game to the Switch, and I really hope they do the same with Fallout 4!
If you want to contact me, please email me at John@rustyarmor.com