Taking an arrow to the knees is once again cool, folks.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is undoubtedly one of the greatest role-playing games ever made, some would even go as far as saying it’s the best RPG to ever grace our consoles. Suffice it to say, a lot of gamers, including myself, were thrilled to hear that a remastered version under the guise The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition would be hitting current gen consoles. But as with most remastered titles, it’s all about the value packaged in. So that’s what we’re here to look into.
For those who missed out on Skyrim the first time around (if this is you, stop reading and go buy this game already) you start off as a fellow or lady (or mystical creature) who’s going to be executed. I know, grim. But just as you’re about to meet your demise, a dragon attacks. After making a valiant escape, your quest to figure out where these dragons are coming from begins. Before you know it, you’re a dragon-slaying warrior known as the “Dragonborn” who proceeds to drain these fallen beasts’ powers. Amidst all of the madness, you have a massive open-world to explore, brimming with quests and secrets aplenty.
Basically, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is still the fantastic game it was five years ago. But what about the upgrades to this Special Edition? Well, the most obvious changes come in the form of upgraded visuals, as you’d suspect with most remastered games. And what a delighful change they made; the stunning graphics are crisp, and much brighter than in the past. On top of that, there’s more foliage, and visual details that add to the setting, making for some truly awe-inspiring vistas. As a result the world feels more vibrant and alive—more so than even your nostalgic memories think it originally looked. Even the sun rays impress.
Some things, however, were left untouched. The lack of update to the battle animations when you finish an enemy off is strange. These are supposed to be epic moments, where everything slows down for a second to show the finishing blow, but it becomes anti-climactic when it simply looks like your blade is inside the enemy’s head as opposed to it slashing through it (excuse the violent description). Why Bethesda decided to ignore something so prominent is beyond me.
As has become the norm with these remasters, all of the previous DLC is included. That’s three additional helpings of story content. Outside of that, nothing new is really added. Instead, it appears that Bethesda is banking on PC mods quenching your thirst for new content on consoles, and it might actually work (unless you’re playing on PS4, but more on that in a bit). If you played on the consoles before, then this is your reason to return. The options are seemingly limitless with the addition of mods. Unfortunately, this will obviously have less of an impact on PC gamers, as they already had this benefit.
The only problems with mods comes on the PS4. Sony, for some odd reason, has restricted the amount of space used up for these additions, so the amount of mods seen on the Xbox One is about double at the moment. So if this is indeed the reason you want to get back into this life-consuming world, go with the Xbox One.
Another improvement that I definitely appreciated was the load times. Gone are the days where you had to wait around to fast-travel. Now, loading screens seem to zip right by in comparison.
One final thing I should mention: old, well-known bugs are still present. I didn’t run into anything game-breaking (like I did the first time I played on the awful PS3 port), but it’s a shame that a remaster still has bugs from the original release. Granted, it’s a huge game, and it’s expeceted that some bugs will always exist.
You take in the visual upgrades and inclusion of mods with some other minor improvements, it turns out that this new edition of the game is the best place to play this fantastic game. As a remaster it’s lacking on the extra content, but when a game is already legendary, it’s easier to forgive it for not adding much new. There’s still more than enough here to keep you busy for hundreds of hours.
Should you buy this? The answer is yes, especially if you’ve never played the classic RPG. Mods are a huge selling point even for those who’ve played the game before on consoles, the upgraded visuals are gorgeous, and speedy load-times are a savior. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, is still one of the greatest games ever made, and that hasn’t changed. This is now the best way to experience it.
RATING: 4 OUT OF 5
This review was completed using a retail Xbox One copy of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition purchased by reviewer. The game hit shelves on October 28, 2016 for the PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.