Bethesda on bringing Skyrim to Switch, how the Zelda collaboration came to be, more - Nintendo Everything

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Bethesda on bringing Skyrim to Switch, how the Zelda collaboration came to be, more

Posted on December 31, 2017 by (@NE_Brian) in News, Switch

Best Buy Canada recently posted an interview with Andrew Scharf, a lead producer at Bethesda Game Studios . The two sides caught up to chat in-depth about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for Switch.

Scharf had a number of interesting things to say, including the experience of bringing Skyrim to Switch and the technical challenges involved. He also spoke about how the Zelda collaboration came to be – did you know that director Todd Howard brought the idea up to Nintendo?

You can read the interview in full below.

Bethesda and Nintendo

Paul Hunter: Skyrim coming to Nintendo Switch is obviously a huge moment in gaming, and especially for Nintendo fans. Who originally approached who about bringing this massive game world to Nintendo Switch?

Andrew Scharf: The team here at BGS has been excited about the Switch and Nintendo’s plans since we first saw the demo of the technology. That got us fired up about the possibilities, and as a broader company, we’re always looking to expand our games to new platforms and new audiences. It was just a no-brainer to join a great partner like Nintendo and bring the massive world of Skyrim, where you can go anywhere and do anything, to a platform that can also go anywhere.

PH: Last October during the much talked about video Reveal Trailer for Nintendo Switch we saw Skyrim being played at home and on an airplane. How did it feel to (sort of) make public the new relationship Bethesda has with Nintendo?

AS: It was very exciting. We’ve always dreamt of the opportunity to be able to bring The Elder Scrolls to a Nintendo platform, and with the Switch we were able to do not only that, but provide a way to play Skyrim a whole new way by being able to bring it anywhere. Nintendo’s been a great partner and it’s been great to work with them.

Discussing Skyrim on Switch

PH: While Skyrim has appeared on many different platforms over the years, this is the first time it’s come to a Nintendo system—meaning a potential whole new audience. How would you summarize what Skyrim (and perhaps The Elder Scrolls franchise) is for the uninitiated?

AS: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the epic fantasy from Bethesda Game Studios and is the winner of more than 200 Game of the Year Awards. The legendary open-world adventure allows players to be anyone and do anything. Play any type of character you can imagine, and do whatever you want; the legendary freedom of choice, storytelling, and adventure of The Elder Scrolls is realized like never before.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the Nintendo Switch includes all-new gameplay features like motion controls for combat and lockpicking, outfits and gear from The Legend of Zelda, plus additional loot unlocked from compatible The Legend of Zelda amiibo. Take down enemies with the Master Sword, protect yourself with the Hylian Shield or look heroic in the Champion’s Tunic. Skyrim also includes all official add-ons – Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn.

Skyrim – what to expect

PH: Back in February Todd Howard said he “can’t say” what version of the game is coming to Nintendo Switch. Now that we’re days away from launch, can Bethesda say whether this is the original game, the Special Edition, or a version specifically built for Nintendo Switch?

AS: Every platform is different, but Skyrim for Switch was developed specifically for the hardware and has been optimized and refined to deliver a great combination of solid performance and beautiful visuals. We think the Switch version looks and plays fantastic, and lives up to the reputation of both Skyrim and The Elder Scrolls franchise.

PH: You mentioned all three DLC expansions for Skyrim—Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn—are included in this version. Roughly how much extra content does this add, and what are some key features for those who haven’t played the DLC?

AS: It’s hard to put a number on the extra hours of content due to players different playstyles, but it’s safe to say that when combined with the core game—it’s hundreds of hours of content.

PH: Putting Skyrim and all of its DLC onto one game cartridge seems like a massive amount of data. Will it require a chunk of internal storage space and/or an SD card to run?

AS: The digital version of Skyrim on the Switch is 14.3 GB. An SD card isn’t required.

Zelda + Skyrim

PH: The addition of items from The Legend of Zelda, like the Master Sword, Hylian Shield, and Champion’s Tunic is pretty exciting. How did this idea come about and are there any other items in-game that may surprise us?

AS: It was early on in the project, shortly after we started developing on the Switch hardware and Todd brought the idea up to Nintendo and the Legend of Zelda development team. They loved the idea and offered to work with us to make sure that our depiction of Link’s Champion’s Tunic, Hylian Shield, and of course the Master Sword held true to their design, while being usable weapons/armor in Skyrim.

PH: I know Skyrim on Switch is compatible with The Legend of Zelda series amiibo, and they have a daily random chance to unlock the Zelda gear. Are any other amiibo compatible with Skyrim, and if yes, what perks do they provide?

AS: Basically, once a day (every 24 hours in real time, not game time) you can use a Zelda amiibo to make a Zelda themed chest appear with a 20% chance to discover a Zelda themed item, or you can use any other type of amiibo to make a Skyrim themed chest appear with various types of loot.

Skyrim’s motion controls

PH: Motion controls are an exciting new feature of Skyrim on Switch. What actions in-game are you able to perform using motion controls? Any implementation of HD rumble?

AS: Lockpicking, Bow and Arrow motion control aiming (similar to Zelda BOTW), and being able to aim spells can all be done with motion controls. All of this can also be turned off by default so it’s completely up to the player on how they want to play.

PH: From my brief hands-on time with Skyrim it felt responsive, looked phenomenal, and loaded fast. Was this a massive technical undertaking to achieve this level of polish?

AS: There are always basic challenges associated with moving a game to a new platform, like dealing with moving the engine over to a new computing architecture and working with a new graphics pipeline. We were fortunate to work with the talented team at Iron Galaxy Studios to get Skyrim on Switch and they made that process relatively seamless. The end result—as you said—is a great looking and performing version of Skyrim that goes anywhere.

Bethesda & Nintendo: the future

PH: The future looks extremely bright for Bethesda and Nintendo. We have Skyrim, DOOM, and Wolfenstein II all coming to Nintendo Switch. As we look towards the future, what would you like to tell Nintendo fans about this rapidly growing partnership with Nintendo?

AS: We’re really excited to be launching our games on Nintendo Switch, and Nintendo has been a fantastic partner for us. The fans of Nintendo’s hardware have been super supportive and excited for these games and we hope they enjoy exploring Skyrim, as well as blasting demons in DOOM and fighting Nazis in Wolfenstein II. We haven’t announced anything for Switch following Wolfenstein II in 2018, but if and when we do, we will let you know.

PH: Thanks a lot for your time, Andrew! Looking forward to playing Skyrim on Nintendo Switch.

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  • SM

    I really want to know, their thoughts on the sales of their games

    • Jonathan Cromwell

      From what I can tell Skyrim did pretty well and Doom sold like crap.

      • I don’t think that DOOM did that bad. It was on the eShop best sellers list for a while

        • Jonathan Cromwell

          I would put doom at 100,000. I’m positive that’s disappointing for a company like them.

          • nemo37

            Doom had an opening at around 100K and it was outpacing Black Ops on Wii (which went on to sell over 1 million on that system). Now I doubt Doom will hit that number but with digital sales and the holiday sales factored in it should be able to do at least 300K (I doubt it will have enough legs to get to 1 million though or very far above 500K lifetime as the Switch installbase increases because it will probably be eclipsed by newer releases). Nevertheless, 300K for a late port that Bathesda most likely did not really spend too many resources on developing (since it was outsourced to an external developer to port) should be decent enough for them.

            Of course these are just predictions (so they could be way off) based on VGChartz data that includes physical sales and trying to figure out sales based on reported sales of indie games and comparing their ranked position on eShop charts to Doom. I do hope we get the real numbers, though I doubt it.

          • Andrew Breneman

            I mean, its DOOM.

      • Constantinos Lapiotis

        From what I can tell Skyrim did pretty well and Doom did pretty well too.

      • carlos holguin holguin

        Doom its doing good.. i say it will sell at least 500k maybe more..

  • Jack Red

    I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Zelda and Elder Scrolls go amazingly together. So it makes perfect sense to have Zelda themed items in the Nintendo version of Skyrim.

    • Pzzjqr

      What about Elder Scrolls items in Zelda? I would love to see that happen, considering the amount of color within the ES universe.

  • Fandangle

    Bethesda likes money and wanted dem nintenbucks and fanboy dedication so it makes sense that they’d push for anything they can get.

  • Ezereal

    While I don’t think Doom or Wolfenstein 2 can create interest among Nintendo fans I’m convinced that Skyrim and similar games are perfect for these Nintendo hardwares because we love adventures, Zelda and Xenoblade 2 prove it.

    So I hope the next Elder Scrolls will get a Switch version, even if it’s downgraded I’m fine with that.

    • Force

      I’d like to add that, many people who already own a PC/other console tend to buy a Switch on the side for when they’re out and about. These people are likely to buy such (like DOOM) games, assuming they don’t have time to play them on their stronger machines, of course.

      And I’d need to ask you, how much of these adventures are so beloved because they’re “Nintendo IP” and “Well-known and beloved”? Skyrim is something new to the Nintendo crowd, and I believe it’s, again, a case of people buying that are in the category above for DOOM. Well, them and people who only have a Switch.

      • AJK

        Yeah i own a pretty beefy gaming PC but I rebought Doom for Switch as my life is pretty busy so I don’t have as much time as I would like to be able to sit at my PC (or in front of a tv) to game. Doom on Switch is a really good gaming experience.

        • Force

          You never had issues with the downgrades? Since I’ve had to struggle with upgrading my PC to handle my favourite PC genre of games (RTS) I’ve naturally begun noticing the differences afforded by upgraded innards of my PC.

          Before I wouldn’t notice things as much like gnarly textures, but now they just jump out at me for some reason, even with my old 960 card.

          But more so than gnarly textures are the frame-drops. I know all to well what they’re like when there’s more on my screen than my PC comfortably handles, so seeing that back in a game like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 doesn’t have me raise a thumb out of approval 😛

          • TruExtent

            I personally have no issue with the drop in performance on my Switch vs PC version of Doom. Then again, this is coming from a guy that still breaks out the N64 and PS1 (through a PS3) and can enjoy it’s games.

          • Force

            I’ve got games from the early 2000’s and before that I still enjoy, graphics are far from all to me. But I can’t help but notice things like how the back-ground contrasts with the character models in XC2. Main focus vs side-focus. Most effort vs noticeably less effort, kinda like Switch handheld and docked.

            Digimon World 2 is game I absolutely love and have literally played my PS1 to death with. If my emulator wasn’t so unreliable and shaky, I’d happily play it to this day. That said, it’s very clear that it didn’t keep up to well with the times, such as when the character models show gaping holes in them during attacks. Some things are just better when kept up to modern standards.

          • Ezereal

            XC2 is fine, these things are really minor and not important, it doesn’t affect the gaming experience at all.

          • Force

            Sure, but it’s something you notice. The frame-drops though, and the errors, those are inexcusable. I’ve got a scenario here where my frames went in to the 10s, that’s how laggy it became, and at that point, I want answers: is it because it’s a handheld and can’t handle what’s going on? Or is the game not well-optimized? Below is the scenario I’m speaking of.

            https://media.discordapp.net/attachments/319518379809701888/397376227372957696/001.jpg?width=839&height=630

          • JasonBall

            I would call that the game designer’s fault. I was so pissed when I entered Korok Forest in BotW because of all the darned bushes and grass lagging the game. If the system can’t handle all the stuff on the screen, the developers need to TAKE SOME STUFF OFF THE SCREEN!!! That Xenoblade scenario looks like the same thing. I’m sorry that happened to you.

          • Force

            Well, you can look at it that way. But you can also look at it in the way of either A. why wasn’t it optimized to handle this or B. why didn’t Nintendo make sure their hardware was up to snuff for stuff like this?

            Also don’t worry about it. It didn’t destroy my enjoyment, unlike those errors. Those are quite something alright..

          • JasonBall

            I accept the hardware for what it is, but get infuriated at game designers that put too much crap on the screen for a stable framerate. If a game doesn’t run well I blame the software, not the hardware.

          • Force

            I suppose you can look at it that way, but then isn’t a good machine one that supports a great game? If a machine limits one’s vision, isn’t that a bad thing?

          • JasonBall

            I wouldn’t call any machine bad because it can’t run particular games. Where’s the line there? I could denounce any console ever for not running any game ever. It’s all down to the software developers to make fluid experiences no matter the machine.

          • Force

            True, but if a machine runs games worse because the machine just can’t handle the games properly. I can imagine that some developers wouldn’t want to downgrade their games a ton for one machine or the other honestly.

            But XC2 might have more problems than just this one, but I’ve mentioned that before. So as to not repeat myself, I’ll leave it at that.

          • JasonBall

            Yeah, you’re right. Some people wouldn’t want to do the extra work to make simpler games.

          • The Mac Attk

            I definitely notice the frame rate drops on consoles coming from PC. My Xbox One looks awful and I actually get motion sickness from playing it due to the often eradic framerate. The PS4 Pro set on boost-mode, forced to target 1080p and the performance option checked however is a pretty smooth experience. My Switch (while I had it) never really bothered me. The only game I picked up was BOtW and I played it exclusively in handheld mode. While the textures were flat and technically uninspiring, the image was clear, bright and vibrant. Their art style was fantastic and I spent more time ogglying the beauty of this game than I did playing Crysis 3 supersampled to 8k. However, just like you I wasn’t particularly impressed with the games lineup or prospect of replaying anything I could get on another system, save maybe KOTOR.

          • Force

            From a handheld perspective, any game on the Switch is worth buying. But exclusives aside, what reason is there to buy a game for docked play? Unless you own only a Switch, I just don’t see a reason.

            I haven’t had trouble with Zelda myself, but FE: Warriors and XC2 as examples, you can see the gnarly back-ground textures. These don’t bother me, but the contrast between them and the character models is staggering.

          • Yeah, those FEW environments are disgusting.

          • Force

            Have you seen Frederick’s victory screen? That patch of ground so sad with how little attention it got 😛

          • “No detail’s ever beneath my notice.”
            No detail indeed

          • AJK

            To be honest I notice the downgrade far more on the ps4 than I do on Switch, but that’s because I mainly use the switch portable and 720p on the 6inch screen is actually a heck of a good pixel per inch ratio. To be able to play Doom wherever I want is definitely worth a graphic compromise. I’ve already put more time into the Switch version of Doom than the oc version i bought at launch.

          • Force

            Sure, I can see it when you put it from that perspective. However, I solely play on a screen that’s a little less than 1080, so if something’s gnarly, I’ll be noticing that.

          • AJK

            If I only used the Switch docked I would buy all multi plats on pc I think. Our ps4 barely gets used these days as there aren’t many exclusives I want to play and multi plats look awful on it on our big tv

          • Force

            That’s basically what I’m doing right now. I just think it’s a shame that handheld is the sole reason to buy third-party on the Switch, as it just doesn’t apply to me. That said, I’m in the minority, so I doubt it matters.

        • TruExtent

          This was my situation exactly. I’ve gotten further on my Switch version but I still haven’t finished the game.

  • Tlink7

    ”Your game is similar to ours, let’s collab”

  • I just finished scanning ’em all in my copy for the day, lol.

  • Justin McQuillen

    Do any of you guys like this game? I bought DOOM because that game is officially good but I’ve tried Skyrim in the past and found it to be highly overrated and really just a generally mediocre game.

  • Dumdum

    Pretty sure it’s a tall order, but I’d gladly double-dip on Fallout 4 if it makes it to the Switch.