Late to the Game: Skyrim Special Edition - Reviewed

I’m truly sorry to my Movie Sleuth readers that this review comes so late, but Skyrim has a way of taking a person right out of the world of productivity. For the past few weeks I have been deep within the world of Tamriel once more and it’s been an absolute blast. Without further delay, I’m here to give you my spoiler-free review and experience of Skyrim Special Edition on Xbox One.

For anyone who played Skyrim on the consoles of the last generation, this game is absolutely for you. The first thing anyone will notice is the uptick in resolution and raw performance, taking the game from a 720p 20fps experience to a full 1080p stable 30fps. The frame rate isn’t the 60fps ideal, but in cases where performance is rock solid, it’s hard to be mad. This rendition brings out a hell of a lot more foliage, as well as better draw distances, and arrows that won’t despawn before they hit that enemy about a mile out. The shadows also get a huge improvement, gaining a lot of real time reactions as opposed to the harder, baked in shadows in the older version. The inclusion of volumetric lighting also does a lot for the presentation, giving the atmosphere a much richer look over all.

There are a few caveats with the visuals though, and they’re very much worth mentioning. The foliage, while much denser, suffers from pop-in, it doesn’t blend out smoothly in the distance. While some textures have been greatly improved, larger surfaces like rocks look about as bad as they did before. The long-distance textures are very flat as well, which is a real shame, because it’s so incredibly obvious looking out at the landscape. It hurts the overall image, but it’s not a huge deal breaker.

I think the biggest thing to celebrate here is the move from a 32-bit to a full 64-bit engine. The massive ram upgrade in the newer consoles now being taken full advantage of. The game is so much more stable, and less prone to freezing or crashing even when put under high stress specifically from the player. I say “specifically from the player” because just about everything in the game won’t tax the system. It’s on you if you want to dragonshout 2000 some-odd physics objects in the game, or install a mod that removes the loading screens from cities (A mod I’m absolutely in love with and highly recommend). The new engine fixes a lot of things, but I am disappointed to see so many quests that still seem broken.

"I can't breathe in this thing!"

As far as the gameplay goes, Skyrim was already a masterwork, but now with the addition of mods on console, I have transformed the game into something else almost entirely. I completely unbound my character from the main questline starting out, opting to be an Argonian dock worker in Windhelm. I had little to nothing starting out, so building up my character has felt so much more rewarding by virtue, and the quest progression just feels a bit more personal. It’s been an absolute joy getting to jump into this game my own way on a console.

I applaud Bethesda for getting me to fall back in love with a game I’ve already spent countless hours in. I look forward to the many more that are on the way. Even at $60, I find it hard not to feel that it’s all been worth it. If you’ve never played Skyrim before, this is an excellent way to start.


Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC
Release Date: October 28th, 2016
Reviewer’s Platform: Xbox One