Gaming has evolved somewhat over the last half a decade. So naturally it’s only right to remaster one of the greatest RPG titles to date, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
I first got to grips with The Elder Scrolls titles back in 2002 with Morrowind and my appreciation for the franchise only grew stronger with Oblivion (2006) and then Skyrim (2011), with each release we’ve seen regular improvments to the core idea of being that hero and venturing across the land and as the series has grown so has the complexity and quality of the quests you’ll meet along the way.
2011’s Skyrim was the pinnacle, and even now you would be hard pushed to find a game that offers much more content and the recent release of Fallout 4 goes to show the fantastic foundations of Bethesda’s RPG’s.
It’s very rare that a remastered title will appeal so widely, but thousands who spent dozens of hours on the original release have been eagerly awaiting the release of the special edition.
The promise of improved visuals, the inclusion of previous paid DLC and the mods which helped to make the PC version such a hit, means Skyrim instantly became one title people would happily play again, but the question remains, is it really worth paying for.
I’ll start off by saying, if for some reason you didn’t play the original Skyrim, there’s no question at all, you should go out and get the special edition, it’s the most impressive and complete package of one of the greatest games ever made.
But… If like the vast majority of gamers, you have already played Skyrim on previous generation consoles, it’s a much tougher decision.
Firstly you have to take into account the original three DLC packages, Dawngaurd, Heartfire and Dragonborn, these 3 packs alone cost almost as much as the special edition, so those wanting to experience the DLC wont do better than the special edition.
However there’s no bed of roses without a few thorns and sadly Skyrim special edition certainly has a few prickly areas and I unfortunately found out about these the hard way, playing the special edition for the first time on my parents spare TV, the settings weren’t set up for gaming and I immedately noticed terrible ghosting around characters and the audio at it’s worse.
Thankfully when back home and running via the One S onto a 4K display, there was a pleasurable sharpness, characters where still left feeling quite dissassociated from the world as graphical overhall leaves many feeling super imposed, and while there’s some deffinite improvements to water, light and reflections, shadows remain a few steps behind leaving some areas bright and vibrant with others a little too dark and dismall, especially when in the darkest dungeon you’ll get a NPC character lit up like Blackpool illuminations.
Secondly the final downfall has to be the audio, and I’ve been told Bethesda are already working on a fix, but at release the Xbox One version suffers with some compression issues, meaning while there’s a graphical upgrade across the board, part of the audio sound potentially worse than the previous release of the game, I have every faith that this will be fixed quickly, so take my comments with a pinch of salt, but it’s worth mentioning because even if they’re brought up to scratch, you shouldn’t head back to Skyrim expecting audible miracles.
All is not lost though, because we have mods. a feature PC gamers have had for many years, but it’s only recently becoming more common on consoles in the last 12 months.
The modding world has added an awful lot to RPG titles over the years, and I’ve lost count how many times I’ve heard I should get a game on PC purely because of the mods.
At Launch there was an impressive number of mods available on Xbox One (about 60), with less than a quarter of that on PS4, on my play through, I activated a handful of mods, and didn’t have to pay too much attention as to what order they where launched, there was no noticeable issue with the framerates and each mod performed exactly as expected.
It’s great to see such a feature implemented so floorlessly and it will certainly add to the value of the package for those who haven’t used such mods before.
So with the Skyrim: Special Edition we’ve got the same, amazing critically acclaimed game, with the downloadable content, updated graphics, and the addition of mods which will certainly help to make this a worthy second purchase. The graphics certainly aren’t upto the standard of many next-gen remasters we’ve seen over the last few years, and the audio compression isn’t much of a selling point, but it’s safe to say those who didn’t play the DLC or mods originally will find the Special Edition is still a worthy purchase.