The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition review
You have a simple objective: follow the path until you reach a settlement and speak with a specific person to progress the plot. It’s so very simple. But there’s this yearning every time you take a step, every time you hear a woodland creature in the distance, every time you spot a ruin, a cave, a diverging path. There’s a call to adventure you simply can’t refuse. And so you answer that call. You step off the path well-trodden and venture into the unknown, the wilderness, the mysterious natural and unnatural structures amidst the snow, mountains and trees. You mean only to take a quick look, to scope out the area, perhaps mark it on your map for later exploration, but in what seems like a few minutes, hours pass.
You’ve travelled through labyrinthine cave networks, slain foul beasts, discovered treasures and filled your pockets, and you’ve now emerged, nearby or perhaps even precisely where you first entered. The critical path still lies within the clearing, ready for you to trot on back to it and continue your journey to civilisation. And so you do, continuing along it, determined not to be distracted again. But you are distracted, for there is another cave, ruin, diverging path that begs to be explored. Again a quick look turns into hours, and again you’ve returned to the path. You push on, surely no more will you be tempted away from your simple, oh so simple objective. But you are, again and again and again. More hours pass, your pockets weighed down with treasures, your character level soaring. You’re never going to reach that damn settlement, you were a fool to ever think you would. The call to adventure is too strong, this land too enchanting, inviting, vast, beautiful, and rich. Welcome, adventurer, to Skyrim.
Indeed, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’s greatest strength is its world of adventure. Seldom few games offer this kind of variety and wealth of content. You can, and you will, get lost for countless hours in the wintery lands of Skyrim, hunting monsters, searching for riches, searching for power and fame. You’ll encounter odd characters with strange quests, you’ll happen across situations that send you down a path of adventure, perhaps you’ll even find notes that point you towards more quests. In fact, wherever you go and whatever you do, you’ll find unexpected and delightful content to explore. It’s a masterclass of emergent gameplay, something Bethesda have continued to do across multiple Elder Scrolls titles, with Skyrim offering one of the most accessible and open action RPG experiences to date. And The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition allows you to experience this with all its extra DLC, with precisely the kind of refinements you’d expect on the latest console hardware.
Enhanced textures bring the world to life like never before on consoles. Character models are now richly detailed, as is the vegetation and terrain. Meanwhile, the draw distance had been increased significantly to make the already stunning vistas all the more awe inspiring, with the volumetric light rays shining elegantly through the tree canopy, whether from the shine of the sun or the moon. Furthermore, reflections from water and terrain see an improvement that helps elevate the presentation to compete with modern day titles. Indeed, the visual enhancements have worked wonders on a five year old title from the last generation. However, it’s the improved loading times that really impress, making exploring faster and more fluid, allowing the experience to immerse you to a far greater degree.
However, underneath it all is the same game from 2011, and despite the splendid improvements, there’s still a few tells. The most prominent are the animations, which lack fluidity when characters and monsters walk, run and go about their day. It is especially obvious in combat, where its rigidity shows age. However, for a title that allows for such a range of combat techniques, be it sword, shield, club, axe, bow or magic, it’s hardly a deal breaker. Additionally, the increased draw distance can stretch a little too far and reveal the edge of the game world, or a section of terrain or objects whose textures have yet to load in.
It’s also the same old game in terms of content. All DLC in included but if you’ve experienced it all before, this doesn’t necessarily offer anything new. However, with a title this large and full of content, it’s entirely possible that you’ll encounter very different things from one playthrough to the next, and now thanks to the inclusion of mods, you can guarantee it.
Yes, like Fallout 4 before it, Skyrim Special Edition supports mods, allowing you to download new quests, weapons, items, characters and more from a huge library of user created assets. It opens up a variety of new things to do and experiment with, and it’s exciting and satisfying to do so.
Thanks to the huge variety of rich content on offer, Skyrim has always been a title that’s particularly well-suited to repeat playthroughs. Skyrim Special Edition’s enhancements make it all the more enjoyable. Indeed, it’s hard not to recommend. Whether you’ve explored this wintery wilderness before, slaying dragons and other beasts, discovering more of the lore behind the Elder Scrolls and crafting your own legend within it, or whether you’ve yet to experience this award winning RPG, this is the best version available.
Thanks to Xbox and Bethesda for supporting TiX