Let’s Start a Fight: Portal 2 vs. Skyrim

(In which I am super mean in an attempt to make you all explain to me why anyone with half a brain would prefer Skyrim over Portal 2. See? I AM DOING IT ALREADY.)

Listen up, nerds. I may not have a fancy Nerdist video game podcast or a regular column in the New Yorker or a steady income or any income or high self esteem or wear real pants on a regular basis but I do have the courage of my convictions and neither Kumail Nanjiani nor Emily V Gordon (both of whom I love in a creepy stalker way) can sway my opinion on this matter. The Best Video Game of the Year (announced during the Year in Review BBC America show which was so, so good you guys) should ABSOLUTELY have gone to Portal 2 and not effing SkyYAWN.


At this point you guys are either nodding along, muttering, even perhaps yelling “YES! EXACTLY! I AGREE! YOU ARE A GOLDEN GODDESS KIALA KAZEBEE HOWEVER THAT IS PRONOUNCED,” or you are slumped in a bean bag chair, drooling over some cabbages you found in an armoire and muttering about a fireball cat bandit cheese wheel spell thing you would like to cast upon me. Because if you prefer Skyrim over Portal 2 you are a complete moron, is what I mean to say. In a loving manner. But still. Moron.

I assume you want to know my reasoning behind this even though, duh, it seems pretty goddamn obvious, but I’ll tell you anyway in list format, because lists are easy to comprehend for tiny Skyrim loving brains and I have little to no patience for willful ignorance of what is a perfectly simple concept even a child could grasp*:

1. Portal 2 is so funny it could just be a thing you watched for 12 hours without ever touching the controller or solving one puzzle and it still would have had more exciting game play than 5 minutes of Skyrim.

2. In Portal 2, there are no mountains I am forced to run around and around and around until I find a stupid cave or something and finally get to do something other than CHOP MOTHEREFFING WOOD OR WHATEVER. Not one mountain. I hate mountains. And wood. Now.

3. Wheatley.

4. No one really cares about Norse fantasy except maybe hardcore Tolkien fans and they’ve already got ALL THE THINGS.

5. Wheatley.

6. In Skyrim you collect potatoes. In Portal 2 there is a sentient genius mind inside a potato who passive-aggressively tries to get you killed multiple times because its feelings are hurt. That is my kind of potato.

7. Something something lemon metaphor, Cave Johnson, and hobos. You guys know what I’m talking about. It’s awesome.

8. I spent three hours trying to make my elf look reasonably attractive in Skyrim and she still scares the fuck out of me anytime I switch the camera view to third person. Chell, on the other hand, is lovely. (Don’t pretend like you all didn’t do the same thing making your characters into something other than the scary dude from Goonies. If you say you didn’t, you are lying and will not get into Valhalla, so shut up.)

9. Singing Turret Choirs. I mean… what? This game is the best.

10. There is an overwhelming amount of cake in Skyrim, I’ll give it that, but who really wants that much dessert? And isn’t the lesson here that it’s not the illusive cake we’re all desperately seeking… but love? All Skyrim taught me is that I really, really hate uppity mages who won’t share their arcane knowledge with me even though I asked nicely. Twice.

So. There you have it! Now put that science in your bindle and go warm your cold skyrim hands over a hobo fire! (I mean, disagree with me in the comment section)

*I really like Skyrim. I am just playing the Devil’s Avocado. God. I’m really hungry.

UPDATE: My gaming friend Veronica Belmont has posted her own rebuttal to my (incredibly awesomely) right opinion. It’s embarrassing how wrong she is but whatever. Read it at your own risk (of being wrong).

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  • I hate to say it, but this is a dumb article. I’m sorry. It’s very much against the sincere spirit of the Nerdist to compare great things to each other and try to determine which one is better. I feel like we’re beyond that.

  • Don’t forget Wheatley! ;)

    I loved Portal 2. I loved the banter and the story and the science, of course (and Wheatley). I also vastly prefer Portal 2 to the original and I’m glad the sequel is the first one I played because otherwise I would have ragequit the original game and never given the second one any thought. I’ve beaten Portal 2 twice. I still can’t get through Portal.

    I can understand why Skyrim is so popular, but honestly, it’s a game type that never appealed to me. I can’t play things that require actual fighting. At least the turrets don’t move. And they’re adora- um, polite.

    @Reed: I think you need to get your sarcasm processor checked. The article was clearly tongue-in-cheek and meant in good fun, not as an honest statement of worth.

  • Apples should have won Fruit of the Year! Oranges are so overrated!

    Seriously though, it’s a draw for me. This is like asking me to pick a favorite child. Mommy loves you both the same!

  • This is the toughest nerd fight imaginable. I love the hell out of Portal 2, it is beyond hilarous and so well polished and perfectly challenging. Skyrim just amazes me, and is so well acted and so damn layered. I have no idea how to do this.

  • The “complexity” that exists within the story of Portal 2 could be a single quest in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

    A portal gun? I have the Wabbajack — a staff from another plane of reality that can turn enemies to sweet rolls.

    Portal 2’s art design? A cross between Ikea and Apple’s lazy, euro, sterile, minimalist bull feces.

    Anyone who likes Portal 2 is quite obviously into self-flagellation. Why would you want to spend time in a world where you are trapped in white cells and beaten down by mindless mechanical beings?

    It is an objective truth that Portal 2 is not only unworthy of game of the year, but is actually one of the most terrible games on the surface of the planet. Worse still, we have the people who think they like Portal 2. Man. Those people are the worst and should prooooobably be eliminated from the gene pool. Probably.

  • @Kiala: Great and hilarious argument. I make fun of Skyrim as a defense mechanism, since I have zero time to dedicate to it. Deep down, while listening to Kumail, Emily, and Agee talk about battle axes and magic at NerdMelt, I am dying.

    @Reed: Take a chill pill and have fun.

  • @Reed: as the person who invented this site, I’d say Kiala’s article is VERY MUCH in the spirit of the site. She’s humorously making a point she cares about. RIGHT IN THE SWEET SPOT!!! I happen to agree that Portal 2 is a far more compelling, not to mention hilarious game. It’s my fave of the year as well (though I have Arkham City waiting to be played). That said, I cannot stop playing Skyrim. Portal 2 is very linear. You do the same things every time and once you’re done, you’re done (unless you hop into the DLC pool). Skyrim has been a wonderful brain vacation when I’m unwinding from work.

    In any case, well done, Kiala! It’s ballsy to plaint your flag in the ground re: gaming when you know that no matter which side you take, someone’s going to tell you you’re wrong, and usually in the most vitriolic way possible.

    Hugs to all!

  • Got sent here via Joanna Robinson’s Pajiba Love column over at

    I haven’t played Skyrim, but I never finished Morrowind because of the same kinds of repetitive, mind-numbing elements you mentioned here. And besides that, you had me at “I may not ….wear real pants on a regular basis”

    ***raises a glass*** To pantless blogging. :-)

  • The fact that Bethesda released a PS3 version of Skyrim that was so brokenly filled with bugs that get worse as the game goes on is pathetic, especially since it gets glossed over in all of the Game of the Year adoration. Considering it is the same issue as they have unleashed in the past and never fixed , hopes are low.
    That being said it really is an amazing world, and a game experience like none other. Portal 2 is fantastic, fun and shiny but it is kind of hollow when you look closely.

  • Both have amazing physics, though. Last night I killed a dragon that could only fly backwards. Its skin boiled off and its bones jiggled four feet above the ground. IT WAS JUST LIKE FIGHTING A REAL DRAGON!

  • […] How are you passing the evenings now that there’s no TV on the air? More drinks? Conversations? READING? Bah. How about video games? Check out this article in which the insanely pretty Kiala Kazebee proves that Portal 2 is better than Skyrim. Having played neither I have to side with my girl Kiala on this one…lest she insult me. (Nerdist) […]

  • Isn’t these game of the year and film of the year etc. like comparing apples and oranges.

    The only thing Skyrim and Portal 2 have in common is 1st person perspective.

    Portal vs Portal 2 – it’s clear that in Portal they are still figuring out this 1st person puzzle game aspects and som FPS artifacts is still very much present.

    The puzzles themselves are in a way actually much more complex i 2 than in 1, but you need some fps skill to complete a good deal of the puzzles in 1 – like more precise aiming and moving and doing it “on the run” at the same time.

    There are a lot of the building up momentum multiple times types puzzles in 1, that can be a bit hard for non ex. counterstrikers, quakers etc.

  • I loved Portal 2. I just beat it yesterday. I tried to do it without any help from guides or anything, but goddamnit, Wheatley’s puzzles are so simple they’re confusing. The voice acting was phenomenal, by the way. I totally agree with the VGA with Stephen Merchant* winning, as much as I love Mark Hamill as the Joker. (the VA award is the only one I care about)

    And then I go to Skyrim, where there’s so many characters that only a choice few can receive good voice acting. And it’s like “what the fuck, guys?” Oh, and I scaled that big mountain up to the Greybeards with my horse. I seriously could not find the path, so fuck that, climb up sheer cliffs with a FUCKING HORSE. Thank god for fast travel so I don’t have to remember how to do that again.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must return to Skyrim. My orc warrior is almost level 6, and I just learned Roh!

    *Seriously, get Merchant on the show. The dude is a nerd. He freaked out once because he saw his show, The Office, in a panel of a Spiderman comic. And he won a Blue Peter badge for correcting them on James Bond trivia. Please, get him on.

  • Heheh… I didn’t mean to start something. And dumb is a normally-strong word which I bandy about without any manner of regulation in my daily life, and may seem more severe than my actual opinion of it… And, the article actually made me angry to the point that I didn’t catch the disclaimer at the bottom. So, I’m also dumb.

    My apologies! :(

  • (and I mean that… I felt genuine remorse, getting rebutted directly by founder of Nerdist and the nicest guy in the world… I mean, the feeling in my heart right now is: “I’m not normally the negative guy on the internet, I promise! We’ve had nice conversations on two occasions after your standup shows! Please love me again!” …Glad I didn’t say all THAT, though. That would be lame. :D)

    Just kidding! I loved this, even though you’re SO wrong! Plus, I love when anyone has the balls to state an opinion and wait for the thunderstorm.
    Skyrim and Portal 2 are (new analogy) two children that I adopted, and I love them both equally, if not totally differently. One will be a scientist, and the other one will fight dragons- how could I choose?

    Come say hi to us at NerdMelt sometime, Kiala!!

  • Portal 2 deserves the title because it helped take the edge off of that month(?) The Playstation Network was down. Without it’s excellent puzzles and being the funniest game ever, I probably would have curled up into a ball, rocking myself, muttering about space.

  • So, I was one of the choice few who worked their asses off to get the Golden Potatos, well into the early morning at Portal 2’s release. And beat it immediately thereafter. I argued with people that just because you could beat the game in like 4 hours doesn’t mean it’s only worth that much and anyway, Steam’s hour tracking was borked at that time. The cool kids on the ARG IRCs know what I’m talking about. Yeah. Alphabetical, dawg.

    I also saved up for months to get the Collector’s Edition of Skyrim. And the FLAC soundtrack. Signed. And went to the midnight release party with a bottle of mead, the septim from the Oblivion Collector’s Edition, a horned helmet, and a Nerf Axe. I returned home to feast upon a mixed meal of rotisserie chicken, meats/cheeses, mead, and pure wonder.

    I say this to perfectly drive home the following point:

    Meh, I liked Elder Scrolls/Portal before it was cool. ARENA AND NARBACULAR DROP 4 LYFE


  • Tell you what I’ve played both games and beat them and in honestly sad how portal 2 turned out to be I have to side with skyrim anyways like I said before they’re completely different games

  • Tell you what I’ve played both games and beat them and in honestly sad how portal 2 turned out to be I have to side with skyrim anyways like I said before they’re completely different games So remember that

  • You know, this is what pisses me off. When attention-seeking faggots like you rant on a game just because 1. your too ignorant to understand the concepts of the game to actually know shit about what’s going on, or 2. your just a self-centered hater who rages after playing a game for five minutes and never plays it again but puts stupid shit like this on the internet for your own satisfaction. You think that this a good way to express your opinions? You think that comparing two completely different games over something like game of the year is reasonable? Then you’ve got even bigger problems than I can deal with. Also, “SkyYawn™” isn’t the game of the year anyways idiot-fuck, the game of the year for 2011 is Batman Arkam City so know your shit before you talk shit asshole. Now don’t get me wrong Portal 2 is a great game and so is Skyrim, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but to compare them and say Portal 2 is the best and Skyrim sucks is stupid. Only a MORON would c

  • At first i thought this was going to be some unbiased review or match up pitting the both of them up. NOPE, just an extremely biased rant on how Skyrim got GOTY. This isn’t a Skyrim vs Portal 2 it more like, Why Portal two should of won than Skyrim, Next time use a proper title.

  • Damn, I don’t know why everyone’s getting so mad. Portal 2 was the best game ever, Skyrim I’ve never replayed since it first came out. It was booorrringgg. I mean really, I never thought killing dragons would get repetitive, but my God it did. It got to the point that every time I’d hear that foley generated screech, I’d reload and go somewhere else. And I’d never thought killing vampires would get boring either! But after going to the 38029202nd vampire den I shut the thing off, slapped myself, and banged my head against a wall for a couple hours.

    In closing, Portal 2 is awesome.

  • Skyrim is like an insutrial-sized pallet of Corn Flakes. Sure, there’s a lot of it, and satisfying enough for a person on their way out the door in the morning, but it gets bland fast. Portal (and 2,) is like a really good dish at a really nice restaurant. Small but impeccably prepared and incomparably delicious.

    Skyrim’s a time-killer where everything is pretty much average/mediocre, Portal is an experience of pure, concentrated quality, full of a wonder that won’t be experienced the second time around.

  • “Because if you prefer Skyrim over Portal 2 you are a complete moron, is what I mean to say. In a loving manner. But still. Moron.”

    “I AM NOT A MORON!!!” Because I favor Portal and Portal 2.