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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).


  1. Mr.khaji says:

    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

  2. Mr.khaji says:

    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

  3. Mr.khaji says:

    This is just…stupid I’m sorry but your comparing a Meadevil sandbox Rpg against a futuristic puzzle game

  4. Kratos says:

    Skyrim is the BEST GAME EVA.

  5. Viktor Walters says:

    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


  6. Kevin says:

    Portal 2 took 5-6 hours to complete. I’ve played Skyrim for 30 hours and have not completed it. Therefor Skyrim is better.

  7. Andy says:

    @ kiala this was a good post, kudos

  8. faulty logic says:

    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.

  9. @andy I do love Arkham City. Not as much as Portal BUT I just punched a shark. As Batman. A MOTHERFUCKING SHARK. SO yeah…I love that game.

  10. Andy says:

    I agree with hsoup, I loved portal 2 and I’m still playing skyrim but Arkham city was the best game. IT’S FUCKIN BATMAN, HOW DO YOU BEAT THAT!!!!!??

  11. Emily says:

    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!!

  12. Reed says:

    (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)

  13. Reed says:

    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! :(

  14. John Moon says:

    Skyrim is better than the bible

  15. jayce says:

    portal 2 was alright. it was one of the only games that didnt get all its praise from shitty fanboys like batman, or skyrim or that hunk of shit gears of war

  16. Melanie says:

    Portal2 – since it’s my Dad’s favorite. He’s 66. :)

  17. Apple says:

    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.

  18. God you guys. Now I want apples and oranges instead of potatoes and cabbages. Your metaphors are knocking the irish right out of me.

  19. Bo Dixen Pedersen says:

    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.

  20. James Davis says:

    PORTAL 2 !!!!!!!!!!!!Elventy11111!!!!!!

  21. John Bullock says:

    Oh dear, I hope people realise this post is ironic. Even I was ready with the negative comments when Kiala called me a moron!

    I love both of these games equally.

  22. Jonny B says:

    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!

  23. Kristopher McNulty says:

    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.

  24. Stephen Bates says:

    Meh. Apples & Oranges

  25. Sean says:

    This article was a complete joke, everybody knows the best game was Duke Nukem Forever 😉

  26. Krioni says:

    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. :-)

  27. Chris Hardwick says:

    @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!

  28. @matthew No way! (vicodin and xanax. WHAT.)

  29. Matthew Burnside says:

    @Kiala: Did you break your foot again? Are you on painkillers? You’re too much!

  30. @matthew You are the best person ever.

  31. Matthew Burnside says:

    @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.

  32. Kevin* says:

    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.

  33. Crystal says:

    Aw, I haven’t double posted in so long! I feel like a babe in these Internet woods.

  34. Zenjack says:

    Apples and oranges, they’re both tasty and both healthy and very, very different.

  35. iggzy says:

    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.

  36. Crystal says:

    This is like asking me to pick a favorite child. Mommy loves you both the same!

  37. Crystal says:

    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!

  38. shadowmaat says:

    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.

  39. @reed I’m sorry you feel that way. It was all in good fun. Here, have my potato. You need it more than I do.

  40. Reed says:

    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.

  41. Robin Burks says:

    This is like comparing apples and oranges. These are two completely different types of games. For the record, I hated Portal, so never played Portal 2. That sort of game just does not appeal to me. However, Skyrim has claimed my soul.

  42. Robert says:

    For me it comes down to replayability, in Portal 2, I would be playing the same maps over in the same way, with both single and mulitplayer. While I may be playing the same world in Skyrim, I’m not necessarily approaching it the same way twice.

    Also Skyrim doesn’t need multiplayer, Co-op would be nice, though.

  43. Ryan says:

    There is no definite game of the year, it’s all preference of genre.
    Portal 2, Skyrim, and Batman were all just very well made and thought out.

    Personally, Portal 2 was the complete package. People are just still Sky-crazy because it just came out a month ago.


  44. Michael says:

    I have to file both under Games I Haven’t Completed Yet Because I Can’t Get The Xbox Away From My Kids. I’m about 3/4 of the way through Portal 2 and I like the game. But, I like the story more than the puzzles which I get aggravated with because they’re just an impediment to me getting more story. I’ve had Skyrim for two days and have been able to play for about 45 minutes. I’m not even through character creation yet. Not enough experience to say how much I like the game.

  45. Maxwell says:

    Unbelievable. You, [subject name here], must be the pride of [subject hometown here]!

    Somebody has to play Devil’s Avocado and I’m glad you stepped up. While I have enjoyed my time spent w/ Skyrim, my Portal 2 memories are significantly warmer and/or fuzzier. Skyrim I can forget about for days in a row, it has not demanded obsession, whereas my copy of Portal 2 has been forced on many a doubtful friend, always with joyous, thankful cheers upon its return.

    Portal 2 is totes my Game of the Year.

  46. JW says:

    Skyrim and Portal 2 are both very good and very different.

  47. HSoup says:

    Skyrim was pretty and vast. Portal 2 was innovative. But Arkham City was by far the best game of the year. It was more like an interactive movie than a game, but still had everything I love in a good game.

    That being said, I have to admit to not playing the Potato Collector archetype on Skyrim, just sticking to sneaky archer, battle mage and farmer assassin, so my opinion is colored by my inexperience.

    Time to start a new Vampire Potato Collector character. I will name him Spud Boiseidaho, and he will bring great honor to his family name.

  48. Katie Kaboom says:

    As much as I love Skyrim, even to the point that a nice gentleman and I ended a relatively new relationship so we’d both have more time to play — I still have to agree.

    No, wait. Hear me out.

    Portal 2 – Roughly 12 hours of game play. Witty banter, puzzles to solve.. good times.

    Skyrim – Completely immersive world in which you can do whatever the fuck you want. Even if whatever the fuck you want is plucking fish out of a river for 12 hours. Hundreds of hours of game play, right? Surely, you say, this must be the better game.

    I would have said yes, until about two days ago. I love Portal 2 JUST AS MUCH as I love Skyrim. Less content, limited playability, shorter game time… and I still love it every bit as much as the 90-some odd hours I’ve spent playing Skyrim thus far.

    So yes. Portal 2 should have won, in my opinion. Not because it’s a better game… but because it’s just as good a game with way less involvement. And it never kept me from getting laid.

  49. Josh says:

    doesN’T. I have a new phone and huge fingers that don’t type well on tiny keyboards.

  50. Josh says:

    Skyrim does need multiplayer to claim to be worth the money you spent on it.