The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim Special Edition


Key events

Here's a feel-good story that (thankfully) isn't an April Fool's: remember back in November last year when we reported on the petition to get Skyrim-playing grandmother Shirley Curry into The Elder Scrolls 6? If you signed it - congratulations, your signature (along with nearly 50,000 others) made a difference.

It feels like an age since the last Elder Scrolls game was released (seven years, to be precise), and it's probably going to be several years more before we see the next one. It's an agonising wait, and for some older fans, it really is a race against time. But thanks to an online campaign, fans are hoping at least one Skyrim-playing grandma will be involved in the next game. In at least some sense of the word.

Looking at places to live in games, it would be easy for the most magnificent, pompous and elegant palaces and castles to dominate any appreciation. But there is plenty of room to appreciate those residences that are tucked away, perhaps underrated, that are not major hubs or destinations and that are only subtle intrusions. Some draw a curious sense of attachment from players, eliciting a sense of pseudo-topophilia - a close relationship with a virtual land or place. The resulting effect is sometimes enough to cause the sentiment: if this place were real, I would live there.

FeatureThe allure of medieval weaponry

The sword cuts many ways.

Glaives, pikes, bardiches, halberds, partisans, spears, picks and lances. Javelins, arbalests, crossbows, longbows, claymores, zweihänder, broadswords and falchions. Flails, clubs, morning stars, maces, war hammers, battle axes and, of course, longswords. If you ever played a fantasy RPG or one of many historically-themed action or strategy games, you'll already be familiar with an impressive array of medieval weaponry. The medieval arsenal has had an enormous impact on games since their early days, and their ubiquity makes them seem like a natural, fundamental part of many virtual worlds.

FeatureThe constant quest to be nosy

Why curiosity rewards the cat.

You're sitting in someone else's house. You can't help but look around briefly at your surroundings. Ooh, that looks like an interesting selection of books in the bookcase and what's that pad of paper in the corner for? I wonder what that ornament on the cabinet represents. Is there a story behind it? Then the person you're visiting leaves the room for a minute. There's a strong urge to look far more closely, isn't there? A completely inappropriate part of your brain would love to open a cupboard, just to see what's behind the door. Not for nefarious reasons, of course. I couldn't even say why it's so appealing. Is it just the fact that you can't see behind that door in the first place?

Every season has its own distinct landscape look, feel and characteristics. This has permeated into game design incredibly pleasingly. It is easy to think of a video game setting bathed in the bright light of summer or covered by the golden palette of autumn. However, no season is perhaps as striking, atmospheric and powerful as winter. The winter landscape of games can be so perfectly represented and impactful that they appeal to our real-world attachment to them - the crunching of snow, leaving tracks and patterns, the eerie quiet, and the different dynamic frost and ice bring to a landscape, for example. Through design, the use of aesthetics and symbolism, by appealing to our senses and by containing features that affect and change the land, distinct and brilliant winter landscapes come to life. Deliberate design and the careful inclusion of many often-underrated elements of the landscape results in powerful vista compositions, effective and realistic winter plantings, and deep use of the architecture and scale of the land, that goes beyond the aesthetic. And, while the other seasons are more colourful and verdant, winter displays the bones of the landscape, where spatial composition and layout is exposed, and underlying design and features are revealed. By merging these with robust world narratives and environments rich with magic and majesty, we are gifted magical, wintry vignettes and transported to spectacular and powerful places.

It's been six months since E3 2017, when Bethesda announced its intention to add a Creation Club to Skyrim and Fallout 4, their massively-successful mega-RPGs known for their breadth of content and emphasis on player freedom. This club would task third-party developers with producing new pieces for the publisher's two marquee games, which players could then buy from an online storefront with real money. While some decried the service as yet another attempt to introduce paid mods to the single-player gaming ecosystem, Bethesda insisted the market for free fan-made content would remain unaffected. "We won't allow any existing mods to be retrofitted into Creation Club," reads the FAQ. "It must all be original content."

Skyrim on Xbox One X gets the job done - but we expected more

Digital FoundrySkyrim on Xbox One X gets the job done - but we expected more

Resolution apart, upgrades are thin on the ground.

We've already looked at the Fallout 4 patch for Xbox One X, and the impression there is that although massively improved over the turn-out on base console, perhaps the visual sliders were pushed up a little too high, resulting in some issues with performance. Now the verdict is in on Bethesda's companion Skyrim release - and the end result is essentially the opposite: the consistent frame-rate is admirable, and the developer is willing to be flexible on resolution to get there.

If there's a surprise with this patch, it's that Skyrim Special Edition patch for Xbox One X looks essentially identical to the existing PlayStation 4 Pro game, which already delivers a native 4K presentation. The same TAA solution is in place too, smoothing off edges, and reducing flicker on sub-pixel elements like foliage. The overall impression is detail-rich and very attractive overall, but it is essentially a 4K version of the existing console game, further bolstered - just a touch - by the inclusion of tweaks to draw distance, which can see vegetation elements pushed further out into the background.

But if you're looking for further visual enhancements, Skyrim on Xbox One X offers very little. Side-by-side with PS4 Pro, it's virtually impossible to tell the difference and while some elements like shadow quality could possibly be improved with higher level presets imported from the PC game, that's not on the table here. All we could spot in terms of further visual tweaks comes down to a shift in ambient occlusion, which seems to get a subtle upgrade in terms of additional shadowing in the nooks and crannies.

Read more

As a big fan of VR (I've still not given up hope, dammit!) I relish the opportunity to get my hands on a game that's not just a short experience or a dull whack-a-mole style shooter. That's why I've been looking forward to the release of Skyrim VR ever since it was announced - it's a game that I could potentially spend a hundred plus hours in!

How well does Skyrim on Switch compare to PS4?

How well does Skyrim on Switch compare to PS4?

Plus: docked vs mobile testing, performance analysis - and more.

Recently, we dissected Bethesda's intriguing conversion of Doom for Switch, dubbing it the 'impossible port' - a full-on triple-A engine somehow cut-back, massaged and finagled onto Nintendo's hybrid console. The Skyrim conversion may not be quite so impressive in terms of its sheer ambition, but it's clearly far more successful from an execution standpoint. Yes, there are compromises when the title is stacked up against its PlayStation 4 counterpart, but it delivers where it matters - and where Switch offers a unique experience - in handheld play - it is simply excellent.

First unveiled in Nintendo's very own reveal video for the Switch hardware, Skyrim was clearly included as a statement of intent from the platform holder - to show that third party support would be strong, and that top-tier titles were in the offing. That initial footage certainly looked compelling, and the final product delivers on the promise. This is a feature-complete version of the game, making extensive use of the Creation Engine's many quality sliders to squeeze the title onto Nvidia's mobile chipset.

Let's kick off by talking about resolution. While docked, Skyrim operates at a native 1600x900, while playing in mobile mode shows us the first sign of compromise. When we looked at the Switch port at Gamescom, everything indicated a native 720p resolution, but the final code reveals more: a fairly basic form of resolution scaling designed to sustain smooth performance. Under load, resolution drops back suddenly to 896x720 - 70 per cent of the native pixel-count.

Read more

FeatureOn the secret smallness of Skyrim

Turning molehills into mountains.

Skyrim's dirty little secret is that it isn't that large. Oh, it remains fairly gigantic by the standards of other virtual landscapes, even next to its youthful imitator and usurper, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But set against what it pretends to be - a kingdom stretching from arctic wastes to the temperate south, racked by dynastic squabbles and laced with the treasures and detritus of millennia - it's actually pretty dang tiddly, a little over 14 square miles in scope.

Skyrim's Switch release date slated for November

Skyrim's Switch release date slated for November

For the adventurer who has not yet taken an arrow to the knee.

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim is coming to Switch on 17th November.

Nintendo just revealed this release date during a Nintendo Direct livestream tonight.

This handheld version of Skyrim should basically be the Skyrim you know and love, only with optional motions controls and a Zelda costume, complete with the Master Sword, tucked away for diligent explorers or folks who own the Link amiibo.

Read more

Archaeology doesn't get a very good treatment in popular media, and games are no different. The public image of archaeologists is dominated by pulp fantasy heroes, swinging and scrambling their way through trap-infested ancient ruins, one hand clutching a priceless treasure, the other punching a Nazi in the face. Of course, pulp heroics make for much more entertaining movies and games than Indiana Jones and the Afternoon of Context Sheets or Newly-Qualified Archaeology Student Lara Croft Spends Four Years Trying to Get a Stable Job. Even archaeologists grasp this, for all our protestations. Like lapsed Catholics who can't quite give up their patron saint, many of the archaeologists I've known would admit to Indiana Jones being a bit of a guilty role model. While writing this piece I tried to find a photo of my hard hat from my days as a field archaeologist, a promotional sticker from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull emblazoned across the back, but sadly, all record of this sartorial triumph seems lost.

Bethesda unveils Creation Club, a kind of paid-for mods initiative for Skyrim and Fallout 4

Bethesda has announced a kind of paid-for mod initiative called Creation Club for Fallout 4 and Skyrim Special Edition.

It's coming this summer for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, and allows you to spend credits on mods made by Bethesda Game Studios and collaborating partners. The mods include new weapons, armour, outfits, accessories, crafting options, housing features and gameplay enhancements.

All mods will be fully compatible with saved games and your existing add-ons.

Read more

Pretty much as soon as I started recreating video game foodstuffs in my kitchen last year, commenters have been asking me to make sweetrolls from Skyrim. Initially, I was reluctant - countless others have already given them a go at home and on YouTube, and it meant I'd have to buy a mini bundt tin. Over time, however, the volume and vehemence of the comments grew to an extent that I knew a sweetroll episode was inevitable.

Don't expect a Skyblivion beta or release until 2018

Don't expect a Skyblivion beta or release until 2018

It's like a Daggerfall through my heart.

A new 2017 video shows the ambitious Skyblivion project - The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion recreated as a Skyrim mod - going from strength to strength. Apparently the increased attention has attracted more voluntary help so progress has sped as a result.

But, whew, Skyblivion is taking on a lot. Hardly a small game, Oblivion, is it? When on earth are we going to be able to play this? I asked the Skyblivion team for an update.

"At this point the base game is done," Kyle Rebel, project PR, told me. "this means Oblivion's game has been completely recreated and can be explored freely.

Read more

Skyrim mod Enderal gets DLC expansion of its own

Skyrim mod Enderal gets DLC expansion of its own

Forgotten Stories includes content cut from the main mod.

Enderal, perhaps the best Skyrim total conversion mod around, is getting a DLC expansion pack of its own.

Forgotten Stories is the work of Nicolas Lietzau, lead writer of Enderal, with support from some of SureAI, the group of modders responsible for the mod. It adds parts of the story content cut from the initial release of Enderal, which amounts to 10-20 hours of new quest gameplay, as well as a raft of improvements.

The teaser, below, gives you an idea of the tone.

Read more

FeatureThe archaeologists of Skyrim

Meet the players trying to bring Tamriel's lost history to life.

In the dank underbelly of Riften, through the sewers that service the town and into the dripping cistern that the Thieves Guild calls home, is a man called Rune. He rises at 8am, stands about for most of the day until 10pm, and then goes to practise with his dagger on a dummy for a few hours until bedtime.

Skyrim on PS4 Pro runs at native 4K - but there's a catch

Digital FoundrySkyrim on PS4 Pro runs at native 4K - but there's a catch

The standard PS4 version has smoother performance overall.

Skyrim Special Edition is one of the first games to support PlayStation 4 Pro, with the code already included on the game disc., and unlike the majority of Pro enhanced titles, Bethesda's popular RPG runs natively at 4K resolution - that's a 3840x2160 framebuffer without utilising checkerboard rendering or upscaling from a lower resolution. We can also confirm that resolution appears to be locked at that number with no dynamic scaling or any other similar technique. It's fair to say that the boost in pixel count provides an immediate leap over the native 1080p base PS4 game, resolving more detail and definition across the game's rugged environments.

Running on a standard PS4 at 1080p, Skyrim features a distinctly soft appearance that lacks the sharpness you'd expect to see when running 1:1 pixel-mapped on a full HD screen, caused by the game's temporal AA solution blurring the image to a noticeable degree. The upside is that jaggies and other edge artefacts are practically eliminated, which creates a very clean presentation. This is an area where the quadrupling in resolution on PS4 Pro using the 4K mode yields a welcome upgrade. The presentation may still appear on the softer side, but there's a nice uptick in visible fine details across distant scenery and textures, which are smoothed over to a greater degree at lower resolutions.

Bethesda also employs the same temporal AA solution with the game running in PS4 Pro's 4K mode, and when combined with the increase in pixel count, we get a highly refined image where edge artefacts are a non-issue. Arguably, there's less of a need to use strong levels of anti-aliasing at ultra-high resolutions owing to the tight pixel density helping to conceal jaggies to a better degree than on a 1080p screen - the stair steps are much smaller and thus stand out less obviously.

Read more

Skyrim Special Edition patch causing game crashes on PC, PS4, Xbox one

Skyrim Special Edition patch causing game crashes on PC, PS4, Xbox one

UPDATE: Patch 1.2 live on PC. "Stay tuned" for console.

UPDATE 12TH NOVEMBER: Skyrim Special Edition update 1.2 is now live on PC. "Stay tuned for news on the Xbox and PS4 release of 1.2," wrote Bethesda on its official support forum.

UPDATE 10TH NOVEMBER: Bethesda has released a beta version of patch 1.2 on PC to fix the crashing issues. "Following our beta update, we will work to release the update on Xbox One and PlayStation 4," wrote Bethesda on its official forum.

Beta content isn't automatically enabled on Steam - you will have to enable it. To do that, log into Steam, right-click on Skyrim Special Edition in your Library and select Properties and then Betas. From the drop-down menu select Beta and then OK, then wait for a few minutes while the game updates. "Skyrim Special Edition [Beta]" should appear in your Library after that.

Read more

Face-Off: Skyrim Special Edition

Digital FoundryFace-Off: Skyrim Special Edition

PS4 and Xbox One take on the maxed out PC experience.

Skyrim arrives on current-gen consoles and gets a PC upgrade in the form of the Special Edition, a remaster of sorts featuring several visual upgrades over the original game. New lighting and effects work is woven into the existing rendering pipeline, while some of the core assets are reworked. Draw distances and streaming are also improved too, adding another layer of refinement to the presentation. It all adds up to a tangible boost in visual quality over the original game, especially when looking at the last-gen console versions. But with that said, what's the best way to play the game? And which console provide us with the better overall experience?

Kicking things off with PS4 and Xbox One, and it's immediately clear that both versions deliver an identical presentation with asset quality and effects work nicely matching up. A native 1080p resolution is also in place, bringing a welcome increase in clarity over the 720p presentation on last-gen machines. Resolution also appears to be locked to 1080p too, although, just as in Fallout 4 it's possible that a dynamic framebuffer could still be in play, though we didn't find any drops below 1080p during our gameplay session.

As such, image quality is solid, with the game's temporal anti-aliasing solution practically eliminating shimmer and other edge-related artefacts across the entirety of the scenes. However, the downside is that this post-process AA implementation creates a soft look that lacks the per-pixel sharpness we expect from a native image. Stacked up against the original PC Skyrim with its MSAA implementation, there's no doubt that the presentation is considerably less focused.

Read more

The Eurogamer Podcast #19: Totally topical!

Take me down to the paradise city.

Hello! It's Podcast time, and we have played some gaaaaaaaames. Busy period, right? Lotta ins, lotta outs. Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1, Civ 6? Well don't worry. We have you covered for games. Not any of those games, granted, but still, testify: Beglitched! Book of Demons! Burnout Paradise!

Titanfall 2 fails to beat Titanfall sales in UK

Titanfall 2 fails to beat Titanfall sales in UK

Launch sandwiched between Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty probably didn't help.

Titanfall 2 launch sales failed to match up to those of its predecessor in the UK.

Chart-Track, which tracks physical sales only, said Titanfall 2 didn't match the launch sales of the original game.

Titanfall came out on Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC, although its physical sales on PC were negligible. Titanfall 2 launched on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, and again, physical sales were negligible.

Read more

Digital FoundryDigital Foundry vs Skyrim Special Edition

Console frame-rates analysed, plus a look at the game's key visual upgrades.

It's early days with our analysis of the new Skyrim Remastered, with work only beginning proper on the day of release. Our initial objectives here were pretty straightforward - we wanted to get a grip on PS4 and Xbox One performance metrics after the various issues that have befallen Fallout 4, not to mention the profound problems encountered in the last-gen PS3 release. Secondly, after the release of only the most limited of comparison shots pre-launch, we really wanted to get to grips with the quality of the remaster itself. To what extent does Skyrim Remastered offer an actual improvement over the original release maxed out on PC?

The Skyrim Special Edition launch day mod difference between PS4 and Xbox One

There's a big difference between Skyrim Special Edition on Xbox One and on PlayStation 4: the space reserved for mods. On PS4, 1GB space is reserved, whereas on Xbox One it's 5GB. So what difference does that make to mod selection now the game has been released? Rather a lot.

On launch day, on PS4, you can currently choose from 38 mods - but on Xbox One you can choose from 119.

It means that if you're playing on PS4, you miss out Xbox One mods such as a dialogue overhaul for relationships; an extensive bug-fixing patch; expanded crafting options to make arrows and lockpicks; an alternate starting location and story set-up; and a whole campfire gameplay system. In other words, the kind of mods that can really alter your Skyrim experience.

Read more

VideoWatch: Ian plays the first three hours of Skyrim Special Edition

Let's all experience the game at the same time. Which in this case is 2pm BST.

Those of you who watched my epic Fallout 4 Let's Play series will remember that my character, Mrs. Henry J. Buttminster, was a community creation. Fellow Eurogamer video man Johnny Chiodini came up with the character name and the base stats but the rest of the perks - and even the avatar's sex - were chosen by you, the viewers.

Skyrim's one of those games that never really went away, but since it's back with a remaster this week, we thought it was time to take a look at the things that made it special - particularly in the light of Bethesda's next release, Fallout 4. Inevitably, there are some spoilers for both games in what follows. Enjoy!

FeatureThe Skyrim mod to Enderal

If you're impatient for a new Elder Scrolls, this long-awaited mod should do the trick.

This all seems mighty familiar. The sun splits the trees to my right while long sprawling shadows are cast over the lake; fireflies flutter overhead, close enough to be plucked out of the air; a nearby waterfall cascades from a river hundreds of feet above.

FeaturePutting the magic back into magic in fantasy games

On the fantasy authors and ideas about sorcery game designers could learn from.

There are few things less surprising about most fantasy games than how they portray magic, which is a pretty depressing state of affairs given that magic is, by definition, the art of doing the impossible. The impossible, it turns out, has a fairly limited set of applications. By and large, it means hitting foes with elementally-flavoured balls of fire, turbo-charging your stats or zapping wounded allies back to fighting fitness, in accordance with a collection of tactical rule sets derived from the works of Tolkien via Dungeons and Dragons.

Digital FoundryCan PC mods match Skyrim Special Edition?

Digital Foundry has a shot at replicating the upcoming remaster.

The upcoming Skyrim Special Edition adds a host of visual tweaks - as we've covered - ranging from extra foliage, upgraded shaders, dynamic depth of field, and volumetric lighting. But of course, we can already get many of these graphical upgrades right now, simply by enabling user-made mods on the PC version. After our last comparison, the question we asked ourselves is: could we match this new Skyrim release using a range of the most popular mods?

Skyrim total conversion mod Enderal gets a release date, looks great

Skyrim total conversion mod Enderal gets a release date, looks great

Completely new setting, new mechanics, new story!

It is made from The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim parts but its story, its setting and its mechanics are all built anew - the free total conversion mod Enderal is finally ready to be released.

"The German version will be activated on July 1-3rd," tweeted maker SureAI (via Reddit). "The English version will be released one or two weeks later."

Enderal is a total conversion mod that has been five years in the making, with planning beginning a month before Skyrim was even released. A team of 14 people have put it together, coordinated from Munich, Germany. It's the same team that made The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion mod Nehrim - indeed, Enderal is a sequel to Nehrim, not that you need to have played it.

Read more

How does the Skyrim remaster compare to the maxed out PC original?

Digital FoundryHow does the Skyrim remaster compare to the maxed out PC original?

Digital Foundry goes in-depth on the visual features added to the upcoming Special Edition.

An enhanced remaster of The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC this October. This new Special Edition is the first we've seen of this series on either console to date - it's a native 1920x1080 production, and based on trailer footage so far, it's also seemingly set to run at 30fps. We're promised quite a bit more though, and indeed the game borrows features from the more modern iteration of its Creation Engine, adding the rendering techniques for volumetric god rays and water shaders seen more recently in Fallout 4.

It's great news for PC crowd as well, and those who own all DLC of the original (or bought the Legendary Edition) receive this as a free update. Based on our tests, there's a visible difference between this remaster and the vanilla 2011 release, with the landscape improved by new assets; plants, mushrooms, stones and extra trees are more liberally dotted around the initial Riverwood village. A new depth of field effect is brought in too. As plucked from Fallout 4's settings menu, this allows backgrounds to dynamically fall in and out of focus depending on a player's line of sight.

Another element we noticed in matching our PC footage with this reveal trailer is that textures are identical. Bethesda's press materials offer up seven high quality BMP shots of the game - tellingly archived in a folder labeled 'Xbox One.' We've matched each of these with the PC game at maximum settings, and there's little to no difference in the quality of the texture work (barring one mountain-side near Riverwood). Assuming these are Xbox One screengrabs, it's pleasing to at least see texture filtering matches PC's top 16x anisotropic filtering setting, but the ground detail underfoot is precisely as it was before.

Read more