Skyrim vs Witcher 3 | Comparison of the Best Games | xGamers
In the world of modern Western-style role-playing games, there are usually two that stand out from the crowd: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. It’s hard not to see why both of these titles are so idolized. Both come from prestigious and well-loved franchises, they offer a huge world to play in, and usually they are the defining games of their generations. But, one question that sometimes will get asked: which one is better?
Let’s take a look at each one individually. Skyrim is the fifth mainline game in Bethesda’s Elder Scroll series taking place in the eponymous province on the continent of Tamriel. The player assumes the role of the “Dragonborn” and creates their own character from a list of various races from humans to elves to the cat-like race the Khajiits. After a slightly slow intro involving the main antagonist, the dragon Alduin, destroying the village you are in, players are free to explore all that Skyrim has to offer before finally taking on Alduin before he destroys the world. The game also received additional content with the release Dawnguard, Hearthstone, and Dragonborn which provided additional quests and features for players to enjoy.
Since its original release back in November 2011 for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC, it has been rereleased as the Legendary Edition for the same systems featuring all the DLC included, as Skyrim: Special Edition for PS4, Xbox One, and PC that included mod support for the console versions, a VR edition for PC and PS4, as well as a version for the Nintendo Switch that seems to be more based off the Legendary Edition with some exclusive bonuses related to Nintendo properties like Legend of Zelda-themed weapons and costumes. The game received near universal acclaim because of the variety of ways one could play the game among other facets of the game. It won numerous awards from “Best PC Game” to various award shows’ “Game of the Year” honor. That being said, despite all the positives, the game is notorious for having a plethora of bugs and glitches (par for the course when it comes to Bethesda games) ranging from benign to game-breaking.
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt is, obviously, the third game in CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher series. Players take on the role of monster hunter Geralt of Rivia as he searches for his adopted daughter from a supernatural force known as the Wild Hunt that is hellbent on using her for her powers. Being a role-playing game, there are many main quests and side quests to take on in this open-world game to level up Geralt and earn various items like armor, weapons, and more. Like Skyrim, Witcher III also received post-launch DLC including sixteen free DLC items and the two paid DLC packs, “Hearts of Stone” and “Blood and Wine.”
The game was released in mid-2015 to universal acclaim on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The next year saw the release of The Witcher III: Wild Hunt - Complete Edition which included all DLC on the disc. In October 2019, the game received a port to the Nintendo Switch which was based off the Complete Edition that received fairly positive reviews due to the fact that such a huge game was able to be put on a such a small cartridge on a considerably weaker system, though compromises had to be made to get the game running as smooth as possible. Much like Skyrim, Witcher III received its fair share of high honors from various award shows including numerous “Game of the Year” wins. Also, while open-world style games tend to have some glitches and bugs affect it, Witcher III’s happen far less frequently than Skyrim’s.
Now that we have the introductions out of the way, time to move on to answer the question asked earlier of which one is the better game to play. Now, when it comes to open-world games, I will admit I tend to be overwhelmed if the game presents everything to me right at the beginning. Even if I am told where to go and have an indicator showing me, having the entire world open to me at all times just presents way too many opportunities to get sidetracked and lose focus that I’d never complete the game. At this point, I must confess that I have a bias against Skyrim. Upon its release, I was bombarded with far too many “Fus Ro Dah”, a dragon shout spell learned in the game, and “Arrow to the Knee” memes as well as fanboys trying to shove the game in my face as the “best game ever made.” I have tried to play through the game numerous times across various systems telling myself that perhaps this will be the time I can finally enjoy the game, but alas the same problem occurs that causes me to cease any enjoyment I may have had: the controls.
I have never been a fan of games that use the first-person perspective and while Skyrim does also have the option to switch between that and third-person, it just felt clunky no matter what. The only time I felt the controls worked with me instead of against me was, funny enough, playing the PlayStation VR version using the Move controllers. Actually having to swing my arm to swing my in-game arm and hold my shield arm to block was surprisingly the most fun I had with any version of the game. The Switch version sort of had a similar effect where using the Joy-Cons in each hand allowed you to aim your magic in different directions as well as pick locks; however, the game simply uses “waggle” to do attacks rather than 1:1 movement like in the VR versions. And yes, while the game is still popular 8 years later, it definitely looks like an 8-year old game. The game’s graphics haven’t aged as well as other games from the era though playing the PC or Special Edition of the game allows the use of mods that can clean up or even swap the textures for higher resolution ones.
Witcher III, on the other hand, is exclusively played in the third-person. As such, I had an easier time controlling Geralt. However, upon release of the game, a common complaint with it was that its text was quite small to read even on large-screen televisions; patches to the game have resolved that issue. Also, I feel the world of Witcher III is much more visually interesting to explore. CD Projekt Red utilizes a great color palette and better animations compared to that of Skyrim. Being a game released for this generation, the graphics still hold up pretty well...when played on Xbox One, PC, or PS4. While the Switch version is technically impressive, its main draw is that it can be played portably; many recommend playing the game on the more powerful systems unless that portability is important to you.
While I do rag on Skyrim, I will say that both games have fantastic musical scores. The Skyrim theme is instantly recognizable with its grand swelling melody and chorus and Witcher III makes great use of the Brandenburg State Orchestra. A little fun fact, most new copies of the Witcher III will come with a copy of the soundtrack for you to enjoy. So which game is better? While it’s a bit of a cop out answer, like with any game, it comes down to your preferences. If you have enjoyed Bethesda’s other offerings as well as previous Elder Scrolls games, Skyrim will obviously be a welcome addition to your library. Some of you may even enjoy experiencing the various bugs that come with a Bethesda title and just note them as “features.” Plus, the modding community has created a huge selection of mods that can be implemented (with caution as adding too many can cause increased instability) that can add new gameplay mechanics the development team never thought of. With Witcher fans or fans who maybe like a bit more polish (both the country and in terms of quality) to their games, you can’t go wrong with Witcher III. I like the dialogue had between Geralt and the various personalities he comes across his adventure and, as stated before, the world is vibrant, beautiful, and a joy to explore. No matter what you choose, just be prepared to set aside quite a bit of time if you want to see all that either games have to offer you. Be prepared to have friends and loved ones begin to ask why you’re looking paler or always tired from being the countless hours playing them...that is unless of course you are playing on the Switch; in which case, be sure you have a fully charged power bank on you to ensure your Switch’s battery doesn’t die in the middle of a long quest or tense battle.