Skyrim Anniversary Edition

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Skyrim Anniversary Edition review
Thomas Mikkelsen

Review

Happy 10th Anniversary

Return to Skyrim


It's no secret that I was not a fan of Skyrim when it came out. I didn't have anything against the gameplay or mechanics, and it was no more buggy than we've come to expect Bethesda titles to be at launch. My major gripe with it was: it felt too 'normal.'

I loved Morrowind. I explored every nook and cranny in that game, emptied every hollow tree stub, killed every fantastical beast, and talked to every NPC who'd engage with me. The world was so different, so unique among the sea of medieval fantasy games at the time. I had to learn everything I could about it. Then Oblivion came along. Semi-standard fantasy setting, but ogres, goblins, and Daedric creatures made it different enough to trigger that desire to explore.

Skyrim, on the other hand, looks like home. I'm Icelandic, and the snow-topped mountains remind me of my beloved fjord. Skyrim has a lot more trees than Iceland does, and we don't have wolves, but there's too little fantasy here for my liking. I've also always thought Zombies and undead are lazy and overused go-to enemy tropes, so the original game's heavy use of Draugr turned me off the game instantly. It remains the only Bethesda game where I went straight for the main storyline, did little to no side questing or exploration, and put the game down as soon as I'd finished it. It failed to capture me. Now, ten years later, the story is a bit different.

All inclusive


Since I only played Skyrim in its original form, I'll write this review assuming the same applies to you. If you already have the Special Edition, the upgrade to Anniversary is free of charge, and you have no excuse not to give it a whirl. The anniversary edition adds the Dragonborn and Hearthfire add-ons, and the Dawnguard and Saints and Sinners questlines to the game, among over 500 Creation Club mods and unofficial tweaks.

With the Hearthfire add-on, you can build your own house and populate it with furniture. You'll even be able to adopt some little ones to make it truly feel like a home. Survival mode allows you to experience the frozen North at its worst - making eating, sleeping, and warmth requirements for survival. Fishing lets you take a break from killing things with axes and bows and kill things more serenely with a rod and some bait instead. But where the anniversary edition saves Skyrim for me is in the new locations to explore.

The Dragonborn add-on allows you to revisit Solstheim, the island from 2003's Bloodmoon expansion to Morrowind. While it's still a Skyrim location, It brings a little taste of Morrowind to the frozen North. Numerous Creation Club mods bring in quests, creatures, and items that link back to Morrowind and Oblivion, so there's a lot to explore here. Not to mention the seemingly endless number of mods available online that alter and enhance the game in many ways. From realistic AI conversations that make the townsfolk talk to one another instead of throwing lines of exposition at you as you pass to texture overhauls that dramatically improve the game's look (as long as you have the engine to run them).

Which brings me to my biggest complaint about the Skyrim Anniversary Edition - tech.

I'm an early adopter. I updated to Windows 11 as soon as it was available, knowing it might cause early stability issues. It may have caused some with Skyrim. For example, if my computer goes on standby, the game will minimise after five seconds of play once I wake it up and not come back up. I have to force quit every time. Sometimes, when I try to leave the game, it'll hang, and I end up having to restart the computer because I can't even get the task manager to appear. Other times, it'll get stuck on a black screen when trying to load between a dungeon and the outside.

The Windows 11 upgrade may cause all that, so I won't fault Bethesda too much for it. But what I can put directly on Bethesda is not updating the game to keep up with the times. This is a re-release of a 10-year-old game. In those ten years, a lot has happened in PC gaming. One of the main things is that most of us now play on ultra-wide 21:9 monitors. After ten years of begging, Bethesda still hasn't added support for ultra-wide aspect ratios and resolutions. Even though community-made mods to force support have been around for at least five years, so it's not like it's a technical impossibility. And what's with roads that end at invisible walls and a text that just says: "You can't go that way?" Dafuq is that?



Things like this always rub PC gamers the wrong way. It's almost like releasing a game without customisable controls. Who doesn't need that? Console gamers. Who doesn't need ultra-wide support? Console gamers. So why waste time implementing something into the game when unpaid coders will do it for free anyway? Especially when we can spend our effort implementing stuff that console gamers will enjoy. For example, they can't figure out how to download mods, so we'll take a bunch of content created by other people for free and sell it to console gamers for a premium while giving the PC gamers who made all that stuff absolutely nothing in return. Sound like a good deal?

This may be a bit unfair. After all, not all Creation Club contributors are unpaid, and the selection is officially curated. Regardless, it always feels like we PC gamers get the crumbs left over from our console-playing brethren, which applies across the industry - not just Bethesda. It's then up to us to add to the experience, and we always do. Modding is the main reason I dumped my console and went full-PC years ago. Well, that and paying for multiplayer. F%&k that s&%t. We always come together to enhance the games we play to something much greater than the developers intended. We create, we improve, we adjust, and we modify. We take these creations and make them our own. That's something our console-playing friends will never have. Creative freedom over their games. And their experiences are poorer for it.

Enjoying the feeling of deja vu


Despite the little tangent above, I'm thoroughly enjoying my revisit to Skyrim, and am exploring a lot more than I did the first time. The first mod I'll download will be 21:9 support so I can stop playing with the whole game at the far left of my screen, making me feel like I'm walking sideways with my setup, or having everything stretched and fuzzy but centred. The next will be some nice UHD foilage. Maybe I'll run around with an AK-47 or learn to fly? Who knows?



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6.8

fun score

Pros

Heaps of new(ish) content

Cons

Few (if any) technical improvements