Interview with Bethesda’s Andrew Scharf

The wait is over. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has arrived on Nintendo Switch. Just in time for the launch I had the esteemed privilege of interviewing Andrew Scharf, Lead Producer at Bethesda Game Studios. We discussed their partnership with Nintendo, what to expect with Skyrim, and what the future holds for them. Read on to learn more about Skyrim on Nintendo Switch!

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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