Skip to main content

Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Skyrim guide: Everything you need to know about the remastered PS4, Xbox, PC Special Edition upgrade

Special Edition Visual upgrades, console mods and DLC explained, and game guides for all versions.

Fans have been asking about it for years, and at E3 2016 Bethesda finally confirmed that Skyrim remastered is on the way to PS4, Xbox One and PC later this year.

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim Special Edition packages the original game and its add-on content with new visuals and mod support. It'll also be free on PC for existing Skyrim players, allowing them to continue their adventures with revamped visuals and Bethesda's own mod suite.

As well as a Skyrim guide for certain aspects of the game regardless of what version you're playing on - old or new - we'll explain how the new Special Edition features work and how they size up to the 2011 release.

Watch on YouTube

Skyrim remastered PS4, Xbox One, PC - what's new?

Console players benefit most from the Special Edition package, giving players a taste of the benefits that's been in the PC version for years:

Skyrim PS4, Xbox One vs Skyrim Xbox 360, PS3

  • Improved visuals, including remastered, higher resolution art and effects, volumetric god rays, dynamic depth of field, native 4K resolution on PS4 Pro and more
  • In-game mod support
  • All post-release DLC - Dragonborn, Hearthfire and Dawnguard - included

Skyrim remastered PC - how does the Special Edition compare to the original?

  • 64-bit support, allowing the game to access more RAM than the original 32-bit edition
  • Support for existing mods as well as those uploaded through's own Creation Kit
  • Support for saves from the original Skyrim in the Special Edition
  • Available free for existing Steam users who own the original game and all expansions (Dragonborn, Hearthfire and Dawnguard) or the Legendary Edition

What DLC is in Skyrim Special Edition?

  • Dawnguard: The debut expansion focused on vampires, giving players the choice to join them or hunt them down alongside the titular Dawnguard organisation. It added new questlines, weapons - such as the crossbow - armours and perks, including skill trees for vampires and warewolves. Dan Whitehead was mostly positive impression in his 7/10 Dawnguard review, saying: "If all you want is a solid side quest and some good loot, this will scratch that itch."
  • Hearthfire: The odd-one-out of the trio, this allowed players to build their own home in one of several pre-set locations, as well as the ability to adopt a child. Closer in line with Fallout 4's base building than a true expansion, it got mixed impressions in our Hearthfire review at the time.
  • Dragonborn: The third and final Skyrim expansion adds the island of Solstheim, and the chance to tame and ride Dragons. New weapons, quests, enemies, armour pieces and Dragon Shouts were also added. It was a sizable add-on and the best of the bunch, earning a 9/10 in Dan Whitehead's Dragonborn review: "This isn't DLC. This is an expansion, like in the good old days."

If you're interested how to start playing all three in the Special Edition, read our how to start Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn expansions page.

Skyrim remastered new visuals: What's resolution, framerate and visual upgrades

Skyrim Special Edition runs at a solid 30 frames per second at 1080p on both PS4 and Xbox One, in-line with what we've seen from Fallout 4 on console, according to Digital Foundry:

Watch on YouTube

The console editions also hold up favourably against the original PC version at maxed settings. Meanwhile, the PS4 version will also be updated to have a PS4 Pro version of Skyrim remastered will support native 4K visuals.

Watch on YouTube

Meanwhile, the visual upgrades on all systems in the Special Edition include:

  • Remastered art and effects
  • Volumetric god rays
  • Dynamic depth of field
  • Screen-space reflections
  • New snow shaders
  • New water shaders

As always on PC you expect more customisation when it comes to visuals and resolution settings, with the Special Edition also offering "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", according to Digital Foundry, and additions to lighting making a significant difference.

Skyrim guides

Skyrim's huge scope makes it a very rewarding adventure to get lost in, but also one that's intimidating to explore. Here's our game guides to many of the game's systems, whether you're playing the Special Edition or originals on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.

Levelling guides

Gold, Weapons and Armor

Popular quests and activities

Cheats, mods and amiibo

Skyrim remastered - what you need to know to get it up and running on PS4, Xbox One and PC

Skyrim remastered PC system specs, console storage requirements

On PC, Skyrim remastered has the following system specs:

Minimum system specsRecommended system specs
Windows 7/8.1/10 (64-bit Version)Windows 7/8.1/10 (64-bit Version)
Intel i5-750/AMD Phenom II X4-945Intel i5-2400/AMD FX-8320
12GB HDD space12GB HDD space
NVIDIA GTX 470 1GB / AMD HD 7870 2GBNVIDIA GTX 780 3GB / AMD R9 290 4GB

Meanwhile on console, storage requirements are 20GB on PS4 in North America and 33GB in Europe, and on Xbox One, 17GB in North America and 25GB in Europe. Mods will also reserve an additional 5 GB (Xbox One) and 1 GB (PS4) of space, due to the differences in what's allowed in mods on PS4 and Xbox One (PS4 cannot use assets created outside of the game).

How to get Skyrim Special Edition for free on PC

Bethesda has confirmed that existing Steam users who own the original game and all DLC (Dragonborn, Hearthfire and Dawnguard) or the Legendary Edition will get a free “upgrade” upon the game's release.

You might be wondering why the Special Edition isn't free for existing console owners. Pete Hines, Bethesda's VP of marketing, explains above it's because PS4 and Xbox One are entirely new platforms, and that Skyrim is already available on PC.

Read this next