SKYRIM went beyond everyone’s expectations when it originally released five years ago.
It offered countless rich narrative threads to follow, a detailed world to explore, several distinct cities, the tools to play as you please and a map with more terrain variation than Adrian Chiles’ face.
Detail is king in Skyrim, this has never been more evident than in the Special Edition.
Every twig, mushroom, insect and shadow has been tweaked to look sharp.
It is a pretty game, though next to contemporary rivals such as the Witcher 3 it has very obvious wrinkles.
Occasional textures refuse to focus as you approach, characters all have crippling arthritis as they animate and the physics engine just does not give a solitary fuck; I saw a mammoth walk up a 90 degree cliff.
For all the effort that has gone into making it look better, little has gone into how it all functions.
Don’t be surprised when a glitch requires a reload.
Though overall, it feels smoother than the original, thanks mostly to the reduced visual glitches and smooth shadows.
One thing that is worth commending is the new quicksave option, so well done there Bethesda.
To those children and cretins who do not know what Skyrim is, you play as a character that you design from scratch; choosing their race, gender and the space between their eyebrows.
You are then dropped into a fantasy Nordic world where you can follow the main plot, discovering yourself to be the prophesied Dragonborn, or point yourself in a random direction and just wander.
The latter option can lead to anything; you could find a forgotten temple full of loot, a camp of foreign merchants looking for help, you may stumble across a demonic demi-god who wants to toy with you, or you could just stand in a puddle and play with butterflies.
No other game offers this amount of freedom in a lore rich world.
Aiding your exploration is easily the best leveling system in any role playing game.
There are 18 main skills broken down into three branches: magic, combat and stealth.
These skills level up as you use them, contributing to your overall level.
Each skill also has a perk tree packed with game changing upgrades, so leveling up is never just a numbers game like it is in other titles.
There are also a number of “shouts” you can learn by finding words from the dragon language scattered through ruins across the country.
These essentially work as an additional spell and make you do dragon-y things like breath fire.
As it is with Bethesda RPGSs, you can interact with almost everything in the game, you can dig up some ore to smelt into a sword, collect bugs/plants to make potions and every single door in the game can be opened.
This door thing is part of Skyrim’s ethos.
In most games, a lot of doors are simply ornamental and will never open.
In Skyrim, you can literally go anywhere, nothing is ornamental and no game has ever encapsulated this sense of freedom while keeping the world as a challenging and intriguing place to inhabit.
If you have the PC version of Skyrim, there is nothing new for you here.
But for everyone else, whether you have never experienced this phenomenon or just want to delve back in, this is the best way to experience what is arguably the greatest RPG ever made.
+It may be old but it still feels great and look pretty good too; like a Jaguar E-Type
+You can do anything
+I mean anything
+I married a mammoth tusk saleswoman and got drunk with a god
-Also like a Jaguar E-Type, it doesn’t perform reliably
-PC players have seen it all before
-Most people have already played it, but most people have seen Braveheart and that is still great
Try if you like:
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt,
World of Warcraft,
The Elder Scrolls: 3 Morrowind/4 Oblivion