Our friends over at Digital Foundry have been stomping around the show floor at Gamescom in search of tasty news, but they perhaps weren't expecting to find one of the Switch's biggest upcoming releases hiding in plain sight.
Bethesda hasn't made a big song and dance about it, but the forthcoming Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is being demoed at the show, and the good news is that the port appears to be progressing very well indeed.
According to Digital Foundry, the game runs at a solid 30fps in handheld mode, outclassing the performance seen on last-gen systems, like the PS3 and Xbox 360:
On the handheld screen, the title looked like it was rendering at native 720p, and while graphics comparisons aren't really viable on the showfloor - especially on mobile screens - the Switch version of Skyrim delivered an accomplished mobile experience. It's the consistency in performance that's really impressive, especially compared to the last-gen versions of the game. The wobbly frame-rates with hitching and stuttering during traversal and combat simply aren't an issue on Switch: that 30 frames per second is as close to locked as you're going to get.
While the Switch's GPU - especially in its more modestly clocked mobile mode - can't really match the latest generation of consoles, the system does have the benefit of tapping into far more available memory than the last-gen versions of the game. On top of that, instant access to assets via flash memory as opposed to mechanical hard drives (or DVDs) should definitely help the title's streaming systems.
With only a 15 minute play session the guys at Digital Foundry weren't able to tell if the Switch version is based on the updated Special Edition of the game, but they did say that performance-wise, it feels very close to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 iterations - which were, of course, the Special Edition.
The caveat to all this good news is that the demo units were connected to debug kits, which apparently boost performance in handheld mode:
The handheld unit looked very much like retail Switch hardware, but it was connected via a meaty-looking cable harness leading into a closed box, and we're told by Switch developers that debug units can run the full-fat GPU clocks in what otherwise looks like the handheld mode. Also, we should remember that the tablet screen can be forgiving in terms of hiding cutbacks and compromises - and we didn't get to see Skyrim running docked.
Even so, it's encouraging to learn that the port is shaping up well, and being able to play a game like Skyrim in the palm of your hand is a pretty incredible proposition, even if the title is getting a bit long in the tooth these days.