If you ask me what my favourite series of games are in conversation, I would blurt out the “Elder Scrolls Series” before you had even finished the sentence. Everything about the games appeals to my inner wood elf. The books upon books of in-depth and meticulously created lore, the gorgeously crafted weapons, detailed and captivating creatures and the thrilling and enthralling story lines will always have me coming back. I do enjoy my shooters but this girl will always be an RPG-er at heart.
When I heard Skyrim was being remastered (insert inner monologue) my first thought was “Damn it, remaster Oblivion if anything, Bethesda what are you doing!” my second thought was “cool, I really liked Skyrim”.
In a nut shell for those newbies to the franchise, this game is the most current in the Elder Scrolls series and is set it the Nordic region of Tamriel called ‘Skyrim’. Like most RPG’s this is a huge land for you to explore, and like most huge areas with many characters of course the place is rife with problems to be solved by you. Skyrim is plagued with issues, civil unrest, epidemic of dragons, guilds at war from the inside, conflicting vampires and werewolves, sure why not? Skyrim has it all. The beauty and appeal to me is you can take any of these multiple storylines in your own direction, order and pace. You are the newly discovered Dragonborn, with the ability to use the voice of the dragons you have killed, to do literally whatever you want! Well except... you can’t as little as Fus Ro Dah someone’s chicken in cold blood, before those guards will be on you quicker than an arrow to the knee. If you didn’t get that, you need to play the game.
So with the background now covered let’s get back to Skyrim: Special Edition. I booted up the game... and to be honest.... I was mildly disappointed. Nothing seemed that different. Don’t get me wrong the graphics blew me away back in 2011, but heck this was 2016. I felt underwhelmed as I customised my character to start the game. I was hoping for more because in my mind this was what Skyrim had always been, but I felt like I had gotten nothing. Oh how wrong I was, there was many subtle differences that made me appreciate the game that much more. Shards of moonlight would creep through the trees, water has a more realistic consistency and textures and colour saturation of the environments have been noticeably enhanced and sharpened.
It’s a pity not as much effort went into the mechanics of the game itself. On a positive, the load screens are a lot faster (Legit, on 360 I could make a cuppa in-between loading areas of huge save files) and a quicksave option means you can save faster mid battle or on the run, and the more convenient (about time) separate character saves you can have now instead sifting through old ones. Despite all this though, it still does not overshadow the fact the game is still glitchy as hell. Twice in the space of 1 hour I got stuck in a wall of a cave, while my colleagues laughed at my screams of frustration since I hadn’t saved for ages. Often NPC’s would talk over each other, at times overlaying three conversations, so I didn’t know what was going on. The frame rate would also dip every now and then, often or not during a battle with more than 3 or 4 enemies. But heck we all have our flaws.
The Edition also comes with all the DLC – Dragonborn, Heathfire and Dawnguard. The three muchly welcomed expansions load the game up with hours upon hours of fire breathing, house building, and vampire slaying fun.
Now for a seasoned Skyrim player who has already paid and played, the major draw card for me is the ability to get mods on the console. Xbox One boasts an impressive 254 mods nothing compared to PC but it is a win for console users. There are so many great ones to pick from, ones that flesh out the environment and add more greenery, that change dragons to flying my little ponies, all the waydown to simpler ones that make Lydia look less of a stuck up tart by fine tuning facial textures. All you need to do is create an account with our almighty RPG lord and saviour Bethesda and browse away. As a tip though, make sure you do all the main storylines first, as achievements and trophies become automatically locked once activated.
Bethesda’s Skyrim might be an old game, wrapped in pretty Christmas paper, but it is an excellent old game. If you have played it before and all the DLC unfortunately there isn’t much to get out of it other than nostalgia. However if you are new, this is one adventure you do not want to miss out on. Just this review alone, I had sunk 40 hrs into the game, which makes me realise I don’t come back for the graphics anyway, I come back because in this game I’m not just controlling a character, it’s because I am in fact ... Dragonborn.