Up until now, I’ve been doing all of my Skyrim playing on my Nintendo Switch, as you all know. Last night and tonight, though, I decided to try a challenge: seeing if I could get Skyrim running on an old PC laptop I have.
This machine is an HP Elitebook Folio 9470m. According to Wikipedia, it dates back to 2012, right around the time that my current MacBook Pro came out. And it was released not long after the original release of Skyrim, in fact.
I’ve got 16 gigs of RAM in this thing, and an SSD, not the original hard drive it came with. I’m dual-booting it between Windows and Linux.
So I set up a Steam account, bought Skyrim’s Special Edition, and attempted to download the Steam client on both operating systems to see if I could get it working. I expected to not be successful, in no small part because this box is really old, and its graphics card barely manages to clock in on the lowest possible settings to run the game.
I had trouble getting it to work at all on Linux. On that partition, I’m running Ubuntu 20.04. I was able to get Skyrim launched, but that’s about all. In full screen mode, I got into an infinite loop with the loading screen and never made it to the opening scene with you on the cart coming into Helgen. I also tried it in windowed mode, which took up about a quarter of the screen. Doing that, I was able to at least start the opening scene, but couldn’t make it past that. And mouse processing was a problem.
Note also that I tried all available Proton settings in my client on that side. Didn’t seem to make a noticeable difference.
Given that, I was really not expecting better results on the Windows 10 side of the box. But I tried it away, just to see what would happen…
And was thunderstruck that it actually worked. Kind of. I was able to get the game running, and it’s playable, but the resolution is poorer than the Switch. I’m also getting this weird black mottling all over a lot of the screen, noticeable whenever I’m moving, but even also if I happen to be standing still so I can get character screenshots.
I also quickly learned that I was not going to quickly adapt to trying to maneuver through the game using a keyboard. Fortunately, Dara and Paul had an immediate solution for this: plugging one of our PS4 controllers into my laptop’s USB port. This worked magnificently, and suddenly I was able to actually maneuver through the game, more or less how I’m used to doing so on the Switch.
Kind of, anyway. The button layout on the right hand is different, and that’s going to mess with me if I proceed to do anything interesting with this playthrough!
And one more problem I ran into: the controller doesn’t seem to be piping the sound very well through into my headphones. Not sure how to fix that yet.
Any and all recommendations for how to fix these things are welcome!
Because I didn’t actually expect to get very far, I created a straight up Nord character, a redhead, and called her Shenner in keeping with my tradition of naming my characters after personas in my books or who might be in future ones! I followed Ralof out of Helgen with her (very slowly, as I had to learn the new layout of the controls), and made it as far as reporting to Whiterun to tell the Jarl what was going on.
And I figured out how to take screenshots. So here are some!