I know one of you is behind this. One of you caused this to happen. He who smelt it, dealt it – and we are dealing with an awfully smelly shit-cloud here.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, one of the best games of a generation, and winner of a number of awards, should not be coming to the Nintendo Switch.
But before I tell you why, let me get just one thing straight. I don’t hate Skyrim. On the contrary, I’ve enjoyed it as much as any other mortal. Steam shows almost 200 hours of adventure, dragon-slaying, and house-making – and that’s a lot for me. I’ve spent days and days locked in the frozen wasteland of the north. I’ve written articles and made videos about the mods I’ve enjoyed. I’ve loved and treasured almost every minute I’ve spent in Skyrim.
And it’s for that reason that I implore you to not buy The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch. It’s time to let it die.
Skyrim was released almost six years ago, on November 11th of 2011. It was the only game that anyone at the time was playing. People with laptops that could barely load a large Excel file were playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Slideshow. DLC released – Dawnguard, Hearthfire, Dragonborn. The Wheel waves as the Wheel wills, and we were happy. All was well in the land. One by one, the fires died. The game slipped into legend, as was it was always fated to do. A “Legendary” release followed in 2013, bundling all of the DLC and the latest updates. It temporarily stoked the fires. It came, it went.
For a time, all was as it should be. “Arrow to the knee” slipped into internet history (thankfully), and Skyrim became one of those games – one of those privileged few whose very name could prompt an “oh man, that game was awesome”, and a hasty reinstall.
And that was how it should be – how the greats of gaming should always be remembered. But then came 2016. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Special Edition was unleashed onto the PS4 and Xbox One. It caused a huge re-explosion of popularity – suddenly, everyone was playing Skyrim again! The frozen north was once again alive with the sounds of wooping adventurers and packmule followers. I was certainly not immune – and although I resisted, I too rejoined the re-incursion back into the land of the Nords.
And yes, it was fun. It was a lot of fun. But underneath the fun – a spectre lurked.
What else was Bethesda doing?
Between Skyrim re-releases, they’d released Fallout 4, and a plethora of DLC – but we’d seen little else from the studio in the time between. By 2016, it had been five years since the initial release of Skyrim. Clearly, next E3 would promise some form of new Elder Scrolls game.
Fast forward to the present day, and we’ve seen Bethesda’s 2017 E3 presentation. No sign of a new TES game. Instead, we got another re-release of Skyrim – this time on the Nintendo Switch.
And for all of you who are looking forward to this – good for you. You’re going to go back into Skyrim and end up playing the stealthy archer you always play. Except – now you can play it on the bus. Honestly, I don’t want to rain shit on your parade if you’re genuinely looking forward to Skyrim on the Switch. If you really want to play the same game you were playing three years ago, you do you.
For the rest of us – cast your minds back 13 years, to 2004. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind had been released two years earlier, and it was the unexpected smash hit that put Bethesda on the map. It was an incredible game – a living and breathing world, with its own flora, fauna, and lore that no-one had ever experienced before. Hell, I got an Xbox for Christmas just to play Morrowind. I had Morrowind, Midnight Club 3, and that was it. It was a Morrowind box. And that was fine.
In 2004 we had The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion to look forward to. And when Oblivion released in 2006, remember how it put Morrowind‘s suddenly outdated mechanics to shame? Remember how weird it was we couldn’t choose to block in Morrowind? That combat was based on statistical chance? That magic spells could fail? Oblivion took those mechanics and threw them out the window, giving us an updated and fresh combat system. Morrowind‘s graphics, once stunning and so lifelike (even if NPCs did walk as if they’d shit themselves) were now muddy, and angular. Oblivion took everything we’d known and loved, and made it so much better.
I suspect you may know where I’m going with this.
Five years after Oblivion launched, Skyrim came along. And we went through the cycle once again. Combat – fresh and exciting! Magic – completely changed! The graphics – Oblivion? Nahhh, that looks terrible now! And Skyrim did it again.
Imagine what The Elder Scrolls VI is going to be like!
Except we can’t. Redoing and re-envigorating Skyrim isn’t a victimless crime. There’s man-hours going into that. Man hours that could be going on TES VI. The constant hunger for nostalgia is robbing us a potentially better game. We’re taking a sandwich now and eschewing the chance of a cake later. Dude – hold out for the fucking cake. For the love of the Nine Divines, stop buying Skyrim.
There were four years in between the release of Morrowind and Oblivion. Five years in between Oblivion and Skyrim. The trend says we should have been looking at six years between Skyrim and TES VI, but… here we are – 2017, and no new TES in sight.
I’m not saying that Bethesda aren’t making TES VI. They’d be mad not to. A new Elder Scrolls game is going to be one of the biggest events of whatever year they release in. But they’d also be mad to give up money when it’s on the table. And as long as we keep buying re-releases of Skyrim, there’s going to be more money on the table. You – we – need to take that money away, and say “nu-uh – not until we see Elsweyr”. And then we’ll be able to look back at Skyrim and wonder how we ever played with such outdated systems. And we’ll love it for it.
I swear to the gods though, the next game had better be set in fucking Elsweyr, or I riot.