The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition Review

The Elder Scrolls series is one of the most popular Western RPG. It was developed by Bethesda Softworks and while the series originally maintained its popularity on PC, it wasn’t until The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was released for the Xbox 360 that it started to gain more traction among the console crowd.

In case you aren’t familiar with the series history, it is an action RPG that allows the user to utilize either a third person or first person perspective, while the default camera is usually set in first person. The series is well known for creating dense open worlds that are full of secrets while the main complaint against it is usually regarding its combat, which can feel clunky at times.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition is the remastered verison of the original Skyrim that took the world with storm on the Xbox 360, PC and PS3 back in 2011. The game won numerous game of the year awards and was the highest rated game in the series. It is no surprise that Bethesda Softworks has decided to release a remastered version of this cult classic for the PS4, Xbox One and PC.

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So what’s exactly remastered for this new version. For starters, the whole visuals have been overhauled to fit more with the modern standards. Textures have been upgraded while character models have received an improvement over the original.Particle and environment effects have been retouched to make the art style more subtle. This results in a much cleaner looking image quality for the game, especially on the PS4 and Xbox One.

If you have played Skyrim on the original Xbox 360 or PS3, you will immediately notice the huge jump in visual fidelity going from the 720p resolution to native 1080p on the current generation consoles. There are even additional enhancement for the PS4 Pro verison of the game. As we have covered in this article, the image quality and some aspects of the visuals have been improved for the PS4 Pro.

Aside from the improvement to the visuals, the fabled PC mods have also made their way to the consoles for the first time. This means that depending on their requirements, some of the PC mods can be easily used on the PS4 and Xbox One. There is a caveat here for the PS4 users, as the limit for mod size is just 1 GB on the PS4 compared to the rather larger 5 GB on the Xbox One. This means that if you want to get the better mod support, you can safely go with the Xbox One version.

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Coming back to the actual game, it is clear right from the start that Skyrim has not aged well with time. Despite the attempts to improve and polish the visuals, the game’s basic combat and gameplay feels rusty, perhaps for simply being a relic of time. It might have worked when the game was originally released back in 2011, but it appears rather dated and awkward in 2016. The NPCs don’t have much of a hit reaction when it comes to the combat, leading to some frustrating encounters throughout the game.

Despite the awful combat, the game still shines in its exploration aspect. The improved visuals help bring some of the lost beauty of the world to life on screen. It is a joy to explore the world of Skyrim, and end up discovering secrets that are buried in the world map. The freedom on offer here is unlike many other open world games, and it was an inspiration for countless others.

While the game seems like a nice improvement over the original, it is unfortunate to see that there are still some technical issues that still haven’t been ironed out. There have been reports of the game crashing after installing the update 1.03 (latest), which can hopefully be patched quickly by Bethesda Softworks. While the frame rate appears to mostly run at solid 30 fps on the PS4 and Xbox One, there have been reports suggesting that it manages to drop on the PS4 Pro when the game runs at native 4K resolution.

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It is rather unfortunate that despite having such an exceptionally crafted world, the combat manages to diminish its impact. Depending on what type of gameplay you prefer, you can either be a magic user, archer or simply go for close quarters combat. This is the beauty of Skyrim that still remains in this new Remaster, allowing the user to play the game as they see fit.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition is a decent remaster at its core, but it is not a perfect game by any mean. The combat can take some time to get used to, but the exploration is without a doubt, the best part of the game. As far as remasters go, this is a neat little package that offers tons of replay value with its support for mods on consoles.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrm Special Edition is available now for the PS4, Xbox One and PC. It was developed and published by Bethesda Softworks. This review covers the PS4 version of the game.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition Review

Summary

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition is a well rounded package that offers improved visuals and mod support on consoles. While the game's combat mechanics could have been retouched to better fit the current generation, the exploration and freedom of choice being offered is still unmatched and the mod support adds much to its replay value.

8/10