Skyrim on the Switch Makes the Case that Stable Performance and Portability are Just as Important as Graphics

Skyrim on the Switch Makes the Case that Stable Performance and Portability are Just as Important as Graphics

Video game ports on the Switch are stable and look fine, but will portability entice customers and 3rd party developers?

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim comes out on the Switch tomorrow and early reviews are glowing. The new re-re-release on Nintendo's portable hybrid console is based off of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One version of the game. And while the Switch won't be able to match the graphical prowess of its rival consoles, Skyrim makes a pretty compelling case for why the Switch can still be a competitive version of Skyrim without reaching the same graphical heights.

Despite originally coming out in 2011, Skyrim was re-released on the PS4 and Xbox One in 2016. The Switch version is based off of that re-release, and our colleagues at Digital Foundry have a new comparison video between the PS4 version and the Switch version (dock and undocked).

While Skyrim scales back graphical fidelity, details like foliage, and other intensive assets like shadow and lighting, Skyrim on the Switch hits a rocksteady 30 FPS. In addition, the Switch's small screen has proven to be a continuous asset for the console, making Skyrim's 720p resolution look consistently sharp.

All of this seems to point to a common narrative for ports on the Switch. With games like DOOM and LA Noire, and taking into consideration the fact that even if a game on the Switch doesn't look as good as it does on the PS4 or Xbox One, consistent performance and the strong pull of portability makes any port on the Switch a genuine contender.

As long as a game is feature complete, being able to play a graphically less intenseive version of a game found on PC, PS4, or Xbox One on the Switch—anywhere you want—is a pretty fair trade.

Whereas the Wii U could never really justify receiving a 3rd-party cross-platform release, the Switch's portability could give developers a reason to release games simultaneously on the Switch alongside the PS4 and Xbox One. If a game like the upcoming Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus does well when it comes out on the Switch next year, there could be an argument made for developers to allocate resources to develop a graphically lesser Switch version. As long as players prove willing to choose a Switch version over another console version for its portability and stability.

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Matt Kim

News Editor

Matt Kim is a former freelance writer who's covered video games and digital media. He likes video games as spectacle and is easily distracted by bright lights or clever bits of dialogue. He also once wrote about personal finance, but that's neither here nor there.

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