Skyrim Special Edition is now available on all platforms and features a number of improvements over the 2011 version. But is it worth buying? First off, we’ll preface by mentioning that we won’t be talking too much about the PC version because the game is free for anyone who purchased Skyrim Legendary Edition prior to the release of SE, so most PC gamers wouldn’t actually have to buy it at all. Coincidentally, that’s a good thing in more ways than one as the PC version of Skyrim Special Edition is not really that much of an improvement. In fact, it’s actually worse than the original in some departments.
On the other hand, it’s definitely worth talking about the PS4 and Xbox One versions because console gamers can expect substantial improvements in some areas, though mostly in terms of visuals. As I’m sure many of you are already aware, the original version of Skyrim was a buggy mess when it initially launched on the last generation of consoles, with the PS3 version, in particular, being the most unstable of the bunch. While the Special Edition isn’t exactly perfect, you can expect bugs to be few and far between this time around as the game does provide an overall smooth experience. If you, like many other games, weren’t able to finish the original because of the game-breaking bugs, you’ll be happy to know that this won’t be case with the new version.
The most obvious upgrade, however, comes in the form of its enhanced visuals. Aside from the fact that it runs at a higher resolution, Skyrim Special Edition also features improved textures, sky boxes, lighting, depth of field, ambient occlusion, foliage, particle effects, and more. The thing that stands out the most right off the bat, though, will most likely be the colors. Whereas the original was filled with grays and other cold colors, the Special Edition has a much warmer feel as it focuses a lot on various shades of orange and yellow. Consequently, this makes the world of Skyrim feel a bit more optimistic and welcoming, though it also takes away from the ruggedness that made the environments of the original feel more genuine and closer to their real-life source of inspiration. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and the game still does a great job at immersing you into a world inspired by Norse mythology, however, now it feels like the season has changed from Winter to Fall; make of that as you will.
Graphics aside, it’s worth pointing out that Skyrim Special Edition still runs at 30 fps on PS4 and Xbox One, much like the original. This frame rate is quite common among console games but it’s still a bit disappointing to see that Bethesda hasn’t managed to pull off 60 fps, as that would have made the Special Edition much easier to recommend, especially given the high amount of great games that came out lately and will continue to do so. Luckily for Skyrim Special Edition, though, there haven’t been that many other competing open-world fantasy RPGs out lately which still makes it a great pick for anyone who enjoys the genre and wants to try something new. Quite honestly, Skyrim is still among the all-time best games in the genre and the Special Edition provides the perfect opportunity to experience it on the PS4 and Xbox One.
At $60, Skyrim Special Edition is a bit pricey for a remastered game that doesn’t offer any new content, no doubt about that. At the same time, this version does include all the available DLCs, two of which are traditional expansion packs that add dozens of hours of quality content to the base game. In addition, console gamers can finally experience Skyrim mods thanks to this version, though there is a bit of a discrepancy between the two platforms here as the game can reserve up to 5GB for mods on Xbox One but only 1GB on PS4. Needless to say, Xbox One gamers get a better deal when it comes to mods right now, however, it’s worth noting out that Sony refused the deal altogether at first so 1 GB of mods on the PS4 is still better than no mods at all.
Overall, I would wholeheartedly recommend Skyrim Special Edition to anyone who hasn’t played the original before because this is one of those titles that had a deep impact on gaming and raised the bar for all open-world RPGs to come. Sure, it’s no Witcher 3 in terms of story and visuals but it offers just as much great content and even more freedom to create your own adventures across its vast world. As of right now, I would say Skyrim Special Edition is definitely a must buy for both Xbox One and PS4, though keep in mind that modding capabilities are highly restricted on Sony’s console, which may or may not end up getting under your skin depending on your expectations. As for the PC version, well, there’s really nothing new here but might as well jump back in for old times sake if you are eligible for a free upgrade on Steam.
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