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Is Skyrim Special Edition worth a 2nd look?

Skyrim’s remastered special edition has finally been released.  Depending on which platform you purchase it on, you will have access to many mods (more are available on the Xbox One than PS4) which will change how you play the game.  The big question however is: will it be worth it to drop another $60 for a five year old game?

When The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim released on November 11, 2011, I got it for PC.  At the time, my PC was more than capable of running the game at the highest level settings for this game. Within the first weekend, I sunk at least 30 hours into the game and I was very impressed with the graphics. The story line was pretty decent but it was the tons of side quests that kept one busy. The subsequent mod support for the PC game is what kept many of us playing well beyond 2 years after the game’s release.  Skyrim set the bar for open world fantasy RPG games for last gen gaming while it looks like The Witcher III has done so for this generation.  From a technical standpoint, Skyrim could not do a lot of the things that The Witcher III is doing now, but the game has aged well in some areas.

I think this is the primary area of what gamers would like to know if it’s worth getting the update.  Since playing it on PC and actually running it again, I can say that there are certain nuances in which gamers will notice changes.  There are areas in which the lighting has improved and some of the textures are sharper but, you can still tell it’s a last generation game.  However, even then it was one of the best looking games in the past 5 years.  Using a few of the mods however has slightly improved some of the faces of the NPCs as some tended to look ‘mushy’.  One of the minuses is that in some of the conversations you have, there is a synchronization loss between the mouth movement and voice actors.  One other minus is that occasionally you may get a loss of framerate if there are too many moving elements onscreen. The game may stutter a bit but, this is still a holdover from the previous generation. I still think that overall, the game still looks great but if you played it on PC with the highest of settings, you are only getting a slight improvement.  There are still many places such as high vistas, crumbling castles and dank dungeons that still lend an otherworldly immersive feel that few games could reproduce.

Loading times
This was an area in which I had hoped was vastly improved and where games like The Witcher III excels in.  The biggest knock on this and many other Bethesda games is there are times when you enter a building, room or city, there are long loading times that break the immersive nature of the game.  However, when it comes to the loading times for this remastered edition, it must be noted that it’s a really mixed bag.  Some areas may load right up under 15 seconds while others may take as long as a minute. My hope for future Bethesda games is that they take cues from CD Project RED (the team that developed The Witcher III) and load an entire region all at once allowing players to enter buildings, settlements, etc. without breaking up the flow of the game.   Again, this is a 5 year old game so it’s to be expected.

Mod Support
Mods for Skyrim are still being produced even 5 years after this game’s release.  One of the best parts of owning this game on PC was after modding so much of this game many of us were playing this the way we really wanted to with improved graphics, gaming objectives, companions and so much more.  While initially Sony stated that the PS4 would not support mods at all for Skyrim, they walked backed part of that decision and have allowed a few mods to come out for the game.  At last check there were at least 75 mods for PS4 and well over 200 mods (as of 10/31/16) for the Xbox One and both could see substantial growth as time goes on.
If I could recommend at least 4 mods that you should immediately try out ( I am playing on the Xbox One and some mods may not be available for the PS4) I would say try the following:

ALTERNATE START – LIVE ANOTHER LIFE – This mod allows you to jump immediately into the game without having to go through the entire prison process. If you still want to get the main quest you still have to make your way back to Helgen to get the clues to begin.

THE FORGOTTEN CITY – This is a fan created expansion in which it gives players a few extra hours  of play time, new story segments and multiple endings

RICH MERCHANTS OF SKYRIM – Finally a  mod in which you can sell all of your junk and merchants won’t run out of money!

OPEN CITIES OF SKYRIM – This is a must have mod.  Earlier when I discussed the load time issues, one of them happens to be when trying to walk into a new city and upon entering the gates you have to wait for the screen to load.  This mod eliminates all of this.

Knowing that some mods may come along in the future, these are a few that I hope to see that are available only for PC at the present.

QUALITY WORLD MAP – This map mod improves the World Map and contains accurate hand drawn roads. It also works with the DLC on the PC version.

WARZONES CIVIL UNREST – Want to really make this game feel like a Civil War is happening?  This mod will fix you up. There are skirmishes, ambushes and random encounters that gives Skyrim a feeling like it’s a truly unsafe place to be.

CLIMATES OF TAMRIEL – This mod actually gives life and breadth to the different areas of Skyrim. With this mod, different areas will have different weather and lighting aspects.

So as you can see, there still a lot of life left in this game after 5 years.  I would say that if you are truly a fan of the game and can still overlook a few shortcomings, this is still worth getting.  Although some will balk at the 60 dollar price tag, you have to consider that this game comes remastered with all of the DLC.  So far, I am happy to go back to this world again and re-experience it again although I wonder what can be done with the next Elder Scrolls title.

Are you picking up this game?  Have you already got it? How do you like it? Tell us in the comments.

About Armand (1273 Articles)
Armand is a husband, father, and life long comics fan. A devoted fan of Batman and the Valiant Universe he loves writing for PCU, when he's not running his mouth on the PCU podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @armandmhill
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