When I first slipped the game disc into my PlayStation 4 and immersed myself back into the world of Tamriel, I was initially disappointed. The cart looked much the same as I remembered except for a slightly sharper design, as did the characters around me, and I noticed little differences in the general aesthetics.
But, soon after, I realized how wrong I was. The foliage, in particular, was so much clearer and more life-like, with the shrubs, trees and even far distant mountains appearing with detail and realism that the game had been formally lacking. And that was not all.
By the time we arrived at Helgen, there was a sense of beauty and accuracy that was hard to match, extending from the walls of the fort itself to the people inhabiting it. Each piece seemed to be in its proper place, and whereas on the former edition some of the graphics tended to blur together sometimes and become a bit distorted, this was no longer the case. Snow is clearer and more natural, water in the rivers no longer flow in a single direction but twist and turn with the landscape as it should, and the woodland trees appear as though you are walking through a forest in northern Europe, not a PlayStation game set in a fictional world.
Other simple improvements also help make all the difference. Rain does not fall through the roofs of buildings or caves anymore, plants no longer hover off the ground in certain areas like something from Harry Potter, and the beasts that stalk the harsh landscape have a sense of clarity that makes them appear all the more fiercer and dangerous. And that says nothing for the dragons, which form a big part of the game as a whole. They now appear like the elegant yet terrifying creatures of mythology that they were meant to, with their diverse range of colors, frills, and scales that was once nearly impossible to distinguish between, made all the more clearer.
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This Skyrim Special Edition comes with more than just a general aesthetic improvement though.
Mods, once only available for PC owners, can now be added straight to your console through the game itself, in an easy to apply and remove the tab from the start menu. This in itself has provided players with an immense amount of new content, and although there are fewer options available on PS4 than Xbox One, more mods will continue to be made accessible in the future.
It is also fully complete in the sense that it comes with all three DLC content; Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn. These are built into the game disc itself, minimizing the effort needed to install them as it takes place automatically as an update patch and doesn’t have to go through the PlayStation store.. This in itself adds an extra 30+ hours of gameplay or more, depending on if you fast travel everywhere and how much you decide to rush through it.
But not everything about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’s Special Edition I enjoyed.
Despite looking much better graphics on 144hz monitor and running faster, the game itself was very much the same as when I had stopped playing it back in 2012 after the release of the add-ons. There is no extra content at all. The side quests are all exactly the same, and there isn’t any downloadable extensions or even new character creation options available. It’s like reliving my favorite memories, but not like making new ones.
If you are new to the world of Tamriel and have never played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim before, this is definitely the game to pick up. Packed full of content and with many hours of gameplay, you can easily become fully submerged in this fantasy realm so many years in the making.
But, if you are like me and have already spent so many hours of your life engrossed in this game and all of its DLC content, you may be slightly disappointed. It’s not that I wouldn’t have bought it, believe me quite the opposite, but it would not have been a priority on my list. Although still incredibly enjoyable and memorable, it just lacks the new extensions to the story that all Special Editions should contain.