Games

'Skyrim' for Switch Looks Like a Waste of Time

Occupying the shortest spot in Bethesda’s conference, the Nintendo port looks like a dud in waiting.

by Mike Diver
Jun 12 2017, 4:05pm

All ‘Skyrim’ for Switch imagery and screenshots courtesy of Bethesda.

Did you catch Skyrim for Switch's slot in Bethesda's E3 press conference? It was a real blink-and-you'll-miss it one. Just over a minute long. The Elder Scrolls Legends, DOOM VFR and Creation Club (more on that in a second) all got longer. In fact, every other game got more time during Bethesda's presser than the Switch version of Skyrim. Okay, we're talking seconds in some cases, but the fact remains: it got the very shortest shrift.

Now, it could be that we see a whole lot more of Skyrim for Switch when Nintendo beams its E3 Direct straight into our faces on Tuesday. But I wonder what more could make a difference, now—what could shift this feeling I have, that I already had before E3 began, that porting the game to Switch was largely a waste of time, and that I only feel stronger about now that Bethesda's time in the spotlight's been and gone.

Skyrim is due out for Switch at "Holiday 2017", to quote the messaging provided by Bethesda. Which puts it into direct competition with the story DLC coming to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a game that sold more copies on Switch than Nintendo did Switches, at launch, giving it an attach rate of 102%. Demand amongst Switch owners for More Zelda is high—surely higher than the demand for a game that'll be six years old by the time it comes to Nintendo for the first time, and that's long been available on five other platforms.

Okay, that's conjecture, speculation, and it could well be there are fiercely loyal Nintendo fans out there who would have liked to have got into Skyrim before now, but it was never on their system. I can't see that being an especially big audience to aim for, but nevertheless, I don't doubt the possibility.

Above: Bethesda's E3 trailer for 'Skyrim' on Switch. What is that music about?

But would any Nintendo-phile really be into the motion control option the Switch is to offer? Skyward Sword and its hit-and-miss swings and swipes isn't that distant a memory—hell, it came out the same year as Skyrim, the same month of November no less. The Bethesda conference trailer showed off this feature, with a player putting up a shield and drawing a bow and, boy, did it ever look bad. Motion-controlled Skyrim feels like a novelty that the game just doesn't need, forced into development just because the hardware allowed the opportunity. Not every opening needs filling, y'know. Or ring doughnuts wouldn't be a thing.

Perhaps people with a healthy collection of amiibos will pick up Skyrim to "mod" it with Nintendo branding—specifically Zelda-related skins and items, as the trailer shows off how tapping a Link figure can drop the Hylian Shield, Master Sword and Champion's Tunic into the game. Pre-existing expansions also come with the package, namely Dragonborn, Hearthfire and Dawnguard. What the Switch's Skyrim won't have, though, is any compatibility with Bethesda's much-trumpeted Creation Club.

Creation Club is, to quote directly from Bethesda's trailer: "A collection of new game content for Skyrim and Fallout 4, including new weapons, new armor, new outfits and accessories. New crafting and housing features. Even new gameplay enhancements." It's a paid-for modding project, basically, in which Bethesda works with small groups and solo modders to sell the very best, most imaginative and most "appropriate" additions to their base games to the widest possible audience. It's all original stuff, too—no existing mods will be retrofitted into the scheme. All mods are compatible with saved games with already-acquired extras, across PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 platforms.

TBF, this, on the bog, would certainly be a thing.

Which is great. But is of no use whatsoever if you're picking up Skyrim this year, for Switch. A version that is likely (surely) to aesthetically skew nearer the 2011 original than the remastered special edition of last year. A version that, sure, you can dress up as Link in, but is still a backwards afterthought in comparison to where the game's makers are trying to take it on alternative platforms—somewhere that carefully curated and wildly creative content can intermingle, making the vanilla that was into a fascinating what's next.

I don't know about you, but Skyrim for the Switch feels like a game that's being put out to die. The initial rush of seeing it in that first Switch reveal has been replaced by a greater urgency to have more Zelda, while even Bethesda themselves aren't going above and beyond to make the port look better than what many previously tempted parties will already have access to.

That said, mucking about with Skyrim on your Switch does mean you can slay a dragon, storm a stronghold or join a guild while taking a shit. Which you could do, with the right line of sight, or a little fiddling around with PS4 remote play. But what's easier than just picking up your console and taking it with you. Locking the door. Losing 45 minutes. "What are you doing in there?" Um, nothing love, I'm just…