While Skyrim is half a decade old, the Special Edition only launched a couple of weeks ago so technically Hitbox Gaming is completely up to date and relevant with its reviews.
With some updated HD textures, fancy lighting effects and mod support, we wanted to see if the open-world RPG really is any more special than the version we played in 2011 (and 2012, 13, 14… etc)
Same old story
If you’ve not played through the main questline of Skyrim before, we won’t ruin it for you. With that said, if you’ve had any experience whatsoever of the Elder Scrolls series (or Bethesda titles in general) you won’t be surprised to find that your character is a pretty big deal.
Something the Elder Scrolls series does so well is to allow players to develop a unique backstory and choose their own path through the game. Just like Morrowind and Oblivion, you start Skryim as a prisoner and from that point on you can choose what to do and when you want to do it.
This approach to story and character development is one of the most appealing features of the Elder Scrolls series. By allowing players to craft their own tale, Bethesda lets you decide whether your Skyrim play through is going to be more Lord of the Rings (slaying beasts, saving the day) or Game of Thrones (bye Nazeem, Lydia, Heimskr, Cicero, Maven…)
The Special Edition is bundled with all of Skyrim’s DLCs, allowing players to carry on their adventure by hunting (or becoming) vampires in Dawnguard, exploring the mysteries of your dragon soul eating rival in Dragonborn or building houses in Hearthfire. It’s packed full of content and will keep you entertained for many hours.
Aside from a few hours on the Xbox 360 version, Hitbox Gaming played Skyrim almost exclusively on the PC, aka modders paradise. As a result, we’ve had super glorious HD texture packs and frabjous lighting effects for a while now. Due to the nature of modding, however, it wasn’t always the most stable of set-ups and was prone to crashing (even more so than usual.)
The HD textures and lighting effects in Skyrim: SE has given console owners the glorious looking experience that PC gamers have had for years, but with more stability. However, it’s still a five year old game so you really shouldn’t expect it to look better than more recent RPGs like The Witcher 3 or Bloodborne.
Comparisons to newer games and PC mods aside, the first time you see the plains of Whiterun hold or the night auroras in HD is a sight to behold and worth the ticket price alone.
Mods, mods, mods all I want is mods
With the sheer number of frustrating bugs and quality of life overhauls, modders have become an integral part of the Skyrim community. With the Special Edition, console owners now have the opportunity to download and install game changing mods to customise and improve their experience.
Unfortunately for PS4 players, the feature is hugely limited. The (dis)agreement between Bethesda and Sony has meant that no external textures can be uploaded by modders, meaning that pretty much every decent mod out there won’t be coming to PS4. It put a real damper on Hitbox Gaming’s plans to install the Macho Man Randy Savage dragon mod.
Is the Special Edition worth it?
With Elder Scrolls Online kind of missing the point (it’s my story, who the hell are all these other people?) and no new single player title in sight, Skyrim Special Edition is the only realistic way of getting your Tamriel fix for the the foreseeable future. As a standalone title, Skyrim SE is without a doubt the best way to begin or reintroduce yourself to the series. The mod support on PS4 is a bit of a let down but for the sheer number of hours you can put into the game without even starting the main quest, you can do an awful lot worse.