The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
First released in November 2011, Skyrim has proven an outstanding success for Bethesda. This western RPG took the gaming world by storm, resulting in copious amounts of ports and chasing up to the likes of Resident Evil 4 when it comes the longevity of consumer appeal.
For those who have never visited the harsh land of Skyrim, know you'll be plunged into a realm in the midst of a civil war. The fate of all Tamriel is at stake as the Imperial Empire is forced to subdue a native rebellion. A conflict your immediately thrown in the middle of as your created character is captured by the Empire for crossing the border. Despite having no affiliation with the rebels, the orders are to carry out your beheading.
If this doesn't sound crazy enough, a dragon descends upon a watch tower and interrupts the headsman just before the axe meets your neck. Dragons have not been seen since ancient times and their return is at the detriment to mankind. Two connecting events yet two primary storylines that made up the core of the initial game.
Along with the main storylines, activities are aplenty with factions and side quests. Bethesda even went as far as to implement quests that are infinite in number that have conditions randomly generated to facilitate this. It goes without saying that the game is designed to be a time vampire. A player can easily invest a lot of hours and still feel the twinges of desiring to accomplish just more one task before bringing an already long place session to a close.
Exploration is a major emphasis in Skyrim. The world is large in scope with many dungeons and places of interest to discover. Your adventure can be enjoyed either in the first or third person perspective and can be switched seamlessly. A free camera function is available which is useful to taking in the sights and note the attention to detail that has gone into crafting these environments.
Skyrim isn't just another open world experience. It's one that took full advantage of the premise, and has developed places to visit that hold there own unique quality. Of course some points of interest are crucial to quest-lines, yet Bethesda incorporated story telling where no progression system is tied into at all. Those free-roam stories are in place literally to tell a tale and in some cases to indicate where possible loot may be kept, loot where no on screen indicator is going to lead you.
There are towns and settlements, all with people who follow daily schedules. This makes the environment feel genuine. Out in the great expanse, you can see stumble upon game, predators and many nasty surprises that wish to hinder your journeys. This does feel like a living world, though somewhat outdated by today's standards.
Combat in this game is the classic case of melee, magic or range. Specialising in either three boasts advantages and disadvantages, however, the doesn't feel any penalisation for working towards an even balance. There's a vast array of weapons that are classed by material. Unlike previous instalments of the Elder Scrolls franchise, you're able to dual wield blades for the first time.
These make up a portion of the skills, as there are non combat one's to develop as well, such as crafting and smithing. When a certain number of skills are progressed, the player level goes up and you're rewarded with a perk. These perks are used across the skill-tress to unlock benefits in your chosen category. You'll find a mix of really useful to very forgettable perks available, but this does also vary on the character you're intending to construct.
Graphically we are seeing an updated version in terms of textures. Skyrim still looks highly appealing and runs for the most part at a solid 30 frames per second. There were the odd dip in frame rate at random intervals, these were few and far between and likely the result of a bug rather than the what was actually unfolding on screen. On the Switch itself it looks crisp and clean.
It's no secret that Bethesda open world games are notorious for bugs and glitches. The sheer scale of this title makes that understandable, there's a lot going on. These do occur usually when the game is suspended. If you relaunch the game from scratch for each session, you'll find the Nintendo Switch to ironically function among the better versions. For whatever reason, suspending play does provoke anomalies spoiling the game.
In handheld the game runs like an absolute dream. Battery life lasts roughly three hours at moderate volume and brightness. This duration did not personally feel like a negative, but may bother others who were hoping for better results, who rely on greatly on the portable aspect to play.
This version also comes complete with all the DLC, which includes Dawnguard, a separate quest-line involving vampires that aim to blackout the sun. Hearthfire, which allows players to purchase land and build their own homes. Lastly and more appropriately named, the Dragonborn DLC. Another large quest that continues from a crucial detail that is brought to the players attention through the main story.
On top of all this, Bethesda in cohesion with Nintendo have incorporated Zelda theme bonus content, as well as motion controls, that adds a unique selling point that you will not find anywhere else.
If you're looking for an immersive free-roam role-playing game with plenty polish and a bounty of activities; Skyrim undoubtedly is an investment worth your time & money. For returning gamers, you'll find the portability an alluring prospect. Being able to take this adventure anywhere gave the novelty value a whole new leash of life.