Although we must keep on waiting to receive the next entry in the Elder Scrolls universe, Bethesda has provided us with a nice consolation prize, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Special Edition. While it doesn’t bring any new official content to the table, this remastered version is packing some nice additions.
The focus of this remaster is on two things: improved graphics and mods. While both have existed for some time now on PC, for console gamers they are welcome additions. Luckily if you are a PC gamer with the original game and DLC, you automatically receive this edition for free. Unfortunately, the mods made for the original game aren’t automatically compatible and your save doesn’t automatically carry over.
If you are a console player who has played the game to death, the biggest draw card here is the mods. For this the Xbox One version truly reigns supreme with an excellent selection of mods available adding new content and providing various tweaks. Some disappointing restrictions from Sony has led to only some mods, those that don’t add any new assets, made available on PS4. There are still plenty of mods available for PS4 though.
If you haven’t played Skyrim with mods before, you are in for a great treat. For the Xbox One at least, there is some wonderful community made areas, quests, spells, NPCS and gameplay tweaks for you to enjoy. The library isn’t as extensive as the original Skyrim on PC however you are bound to find something to suit you. Don’t want to replay the introductory sequence, why not get a mod to skip it. Not a fan of races available, why not download a new race.
My only complaint with the mods is that they prevent you earning achievements, regardless of whether the mods make the achievement easier to get. As a Gamerscore addict, I found the notion of playing through the game and not earning achievements off-putting. As such I ended up with two saves, one with mods to just have fun and one without to play through the game properly. I found it disappointing that I had to result to such measures, to me it seems rather extreme to take away achievements from everyone just in-case some people decide to abuse it.
The game at its core remains the same, there is still the rather clunky combat system that despite feeling unpolished somehow just works.Despite 5 years having passed, the game doesn’t feel anymore outdated than it did at the time.
One part of the gameplay that I think I underappreciated at the time is the choice that is given to you. Thanks to an excellent selection of races, the diverse factions available to join, the extremely deep and rewarding skill tree system and the variety of combat options, you really are afforded the opportunity to develop and play your character how you want. This is where Elder Scrolls distinguishes itself from its other major RPGs.
Even though it has been about 5 years since I played Skyrim, I remembered more of the quests and storylines than I thought I would. This unfortunately took away from the wonder and feeling of venturing into the unknown that I had when I first played it. This made redoing some quests feel a bit tedious.
Graphically the game looks at home on the current generation of console. I find the problem with remastering old games is that I never remember games looking as bad as they do. You really need to do a before and after shot to truly appreciate how bad it was and how far it has come. As such the graphical upgrade while impressive, isn’t something that impacts the experience. Just as the original Skyrim looked fine for the time, so does this remaster.
While the graphic upgrades and mods are the most talked about features of this remaster, it isn’t the only reason to jump back into Skyrim. The remaster comes package with the all the DLC made for the original. As someone who never got around to playing the DLC, this was the biggest drawcard for me.
Each DLC pack offers a worthy and sizeable expansion to the Skryim universe that fits seamlessly in. The Hearthfire DLC pack brings the ability to build and customise your own house, finally enabling you to own a place that actually feels like your place. The Dawnguard DLC adds a decent new quest line as well as vampires and werewolves. Lastly, Dragon Born DLC adds a sizeable storyline as you encounter another Dovakhiin as well as some new Dragon Shouts to add to your arsenal.
For me, getting to play through these DLCs made this remastered version worthwhile. If you have already played them before, it may be hard to justify jumping back into Skyrim and replaying everything all over again unless mods are particularly appealing to you.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Special Editionis a certainly an excellent package for newcomers to the series. It is a shame some new official content wasn’t added to the mix for Skyrim veterans. Despite being 5 years old, the gameplay holds up wonderfully. For Xbox One owners, in particular, the mods can do a great job of adding new things and changing parts of the game. The big question though for my previous Dragonborn kin is whether you can sit through that lengthy introduction sequence and use the damn golden claw all over again. For me it was worth it to play through what was one of the best games of last generation all over again, even if the experience wasn’t quite as great as doing and seeing everything for the first time.
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Released: November 2016
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG, Adventure, Action