The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past five or so years, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was an attempt by the mischievous folks at Bethesda Software, to steal copious amounts of time from many a gamer out there. Simply put, Skyrim is perhaps the most impressive, and indeed important, single player fantasy RPGs of the last generation.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim transported players to a vast sandbox, open-world, set in the frozen realms north of Morrowind (see 2002’s classic The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind). More than ever before in an Elder Scrolls game, players got the opportunity to customize nearly every facet of their characters, including facial features, body type, and the like.
Another feature that was so appealing about Skyrim was that its setting really felt like a living, breathing world. Townsfolk went on about their daily chores and engaged in conversations with one another, guards eyeballed strangers with suspicion, and intrigue dwelt around every corner. The game also gave you the option of either following the main quest (which by itself was rather lengthy), or diverting your attention with Skyrim’s many, many side-quests (we’re talking tons of them here).
In this regard, it was very easy to get lost in Skyrim’s fully-articulated world and lose many hours of sleep to it. I know I did. A gamer friend of mine (who will remain unnamed) who is a fellow member of the uber-geek tribe, stayed up for many hours at a time playing Skyrim, and the game actually began to adversely affect his marriage. Eventually however, his wife put the kibosh down on his nerdy Skyrim binges.
With all of the reworks and remasters that seem to be all the rage these days, it’s little surprise that Bethesda saw fit to dust off its five year old RPG behemoth and update it with a new paint job. But did they do enough to imbue a new sense of wonder and recapture that magical feeling that it original had back when it debuted in 2011?
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Special Edition does indeed give the original game a good amount of spit and polish in order to bring it up to today’s current generation, at least visually. Bethesda has augmented the vanilla version with a much beefier and robust engine, the very same one that powered the excellent Fallout 4 extravaganza, complete with all of the engine’s fancy bells and whistles.
For those uninitiated out there, Skyrim begins with a highly cinematic opening scene where your character is being transported (as a prisoner) by some government goons back to their castle, whereby you are scheduled to be executed. This sequence gave me the opportunity to check out some of the new enhancements right out of the gate. What I first noticed is what Bethesda calls “god-rays,” which are enhanced lighting algorithms. The sunlight streamed through each tree branch, much to my optical delight, and fell upon the ground realistically, creating shifting shadows aplenty.
Eventually, in the next frame, your character escapes from his or her captors in a dramatic scene befitting any good Hollywood blockbuster, with a dragon even flying in to toast everyone until they are blackened husks. Here, I noticed the new volumetric smoke effects as well as the augmented flame graphics. They were so impressive, that I nearly got burnt to a crisp several times because of my stopping and looking at the bumped up visuals and visual effects.
The next thing I noticed was that the dungeon areas had also been significantly improved, with more detailed, higher resolution textures. The underground areas truly seemed damp and foreboding, with ancient lichen and moss growing throughout dilapidated corridors and chambers. Streams and rivers likewise twisted and flowed much more realistically than before, an ode to some of the post-release player-created mods that Bethesda obviously drew inspiration from.
As I emerged from my underground trials and triumphs, I got to check out all of the aboveground graphical improvements. Structures such as houses and shops look much more detailed and lived-in, and NPCs that I encounters likewise looked like their models had been bumped up considerably. Draw distances have also been expanded farther out, which allows you to behold the more densely packed grass and other foliage. The new weather occlusion system also prevents rain and snow from falling through ceilings and under bridges now, greatly helping to up the game’s already impressive sense of immersion.
In all, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition is a must have for anyone who is even remotely interested in high fantasy RPGs. Veterans of the original game should still find many hours of glee and enjoy the enhanced graphics and visual effects to their hearts’ delight. Indeed, Skyrim is one of the few single-player games that I didn’t mind playing through again, and the Special Edition is as good excuse as any to lose more hours of my life, to a fantastic, modern RPG classic.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition PC offers some much improved visuals. However, you have to have an equally fast gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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