Review: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition (PS4)
It has been a long time since I initially sat down with Skyrim. Did I lose hours to this game. With over 300 locations and a quest system that can generate new sidequests all the time, it is an amazing thing to get lost in. I was very lucky, experiencing almost no bugs in 40 hours of play. I was engrossed.
Now five years later, I am back in Skyrim and while the lighting is pretty, this time my luck has run out. The bugfest I was warned of half a decade ago is here, in my console, mocking me from its pretty heights with volumetric light playing through the trees.
Have you been here before?
This Skyrim: Special Edition is not going to please everyone. If you already have the game on PC, complete with all the mods you have downloaded over the years, it is possible that you have already tailored the game specifically to what you want to get out of it. Improved graphics, special weapons, custom armours and weird anime-looking ladies with breasts bigger than a shield are all already yours.
In fact, if you have played the game before, with all of its DLC, you should take a serious look at whether you need this edition at all. The crop of mods available right now on console is pretty scarce in comparison to PC and there is no way to check if a mod is up to standard or not. The mod system isn’t easy to navigate either, meaning you either need to search and hope you find something that appeals, know the name of what you are looking for, or hope it appears on the front page of mods.
While the special edition brings a much more stable game and some environmental beauty tweaks, a lot has been left just as it was in the 2011 version, including the slew of bugs. Quests breaking down midway, NPCs disappearing, getting attacked by creatures in the walls, corpses falling into the ground, stealing their loot away with them Killing blow character combat animations de-syncronising, getting stuck in a pile of rocks, floating objects and characters, or dying because you touched a boulder after it stopped at the bottom of its murderhill.
That being said, I am once again a prisoner of Skyrim. The level design and world building is vast and enjoyable and I finally am getting to DLC content that I never touched before. Standing on the Throat of the World with improved draw distance is quite the spectacle, and the nights when Aurora Nordealis is on full display are gorgeous enough to garner pausing my journey for a while and just watching the sky. The level design is still top notch, with caves flowing down into secrets and spoils before giving you a way to exit or a loop back to near the beginning of the cave system, meaning you don’t have to waste time doubling back when you are done.
Welcome to mods
While I am ecstatic that console gamers finally have the world of mods available to them, the use of any mod at all disables trophies. While I understand they don’t want people to use cheats to get trophies, it seems odd that there is no way to exclude the cosmetic only mods. Somehow having nicer road textures or better looking road signs, or removing the overuse of yellow in the game’s daytime filter, all of these will cause your game to be flagged and saved as having mods and disable trophies.
If you haven’t played Skyrim before (or its DLC) this is a great way to get on board and meddle with mods. If you are used to mods and the like, it is possible your 2011 version of the game is going to have a better experience thanks to all your mod choices tailoring to your own tastes. Of course you will miss out on the 64-bit version, but some of the biggest mods, the ones that really change the whole game, don’t work on the special edition just yet.
I am torn. A part of me is enjoying reliving through Skyrim and making different choices this time around. However every time I bump into an old bug or the game crashes on me, I sigh and the whole thing seems a lot cheaper. Why are all the listed changes to the game cosmetic improvements to lighting? It leaves a slight taste of making a quick buck while everyone waits for Elder Scrolls VI.