Skyrim Special Edition is a nostalgia trip.
When I realized it’s been five years since I first stepped into the world of Skyrim I couldn’t believe it. With the new release of Skyrim Special Edition I’ve been taking some time to look back at what made that game for me, and to be honest, it was the ultimate procrastination tool. Skyrim was one of my homework’s most feared nemesis because of how easily it would draw me into its deep, well-constructed realm, and also how it effortlessly kept me there for such long periods of time. I would be late for parties and get togethers because I just wanted to finish up one last quest and I underestimated how long and thorough even the smallest of quests were.
The original Skyrim wasn’t the prettiest game on my Xbox 360, but I kept playing it. And I don’t mean it from a really technical, frame rate, or processor kind of way – I mean it just looked kinda ugly. It had a murky vibe and it was full of muted colors; a sort of tone that I usually find off-putting. It was full of some infamous glitches, which frustrated me to no end. One time I downloaded Hearthfire, the DLC that allows you to buy land and create a house, and I was having a really sweet time creating and building. It felt like I was in a fantasy Home Improvement. I was hiring bards to come sing for me and mercenaries to defend my house. Right when it was time to seal the deal and pay off the final debt – the game wouldn’t let me. It was a disheartening time to say the least.
Despite all of my issues with it, overall I actually enjoyed the moments I spent with Skyrim. It’s one of my most played games to date, and it resonated with me. I wrote this semi-lengthy introduction because before Skyrim Special Edition came out I hesitated to give my recommendation for Skyrim, because I didn’t want my opinion to be clouded with nostalgia and bias. Now, after re-entering Skyrim‘s classic world of Tamriel and spending hours and hours basking in its remastered glory, I can confidently say that it is an amazing game worth your time.
Skyrim ignites this bizarre feeling that other role-playing games try to avoid a lot of the time – it really feels like I’m playing a video game. It isn’t a bad thing, it’s something developer Bethesda does that I find fascinating. Unlike other fantasy games, suspension of disbelief isn’t needed when you play Skyrim. It almost steers completely clear away from immersion while somehow still holding a complex world full of enhancing lore. You can take it seriously, reading the in-game books and talking to every non-playable character to get a better understanding of the context of everything, or you can have a goofy, yet equally engrossing experience where you make your character a lazy orange Khajit and name him Garfield. It gives you a lot of options from the character customizer, the way you upgrade skills and abilities, and every interaction you have with other characters. Your choices really do matter and the world builds the experience around the way you like to play.
The breadth of choice is fantastic, but it also makes it hard to talk about because nobody’s experience is going to be the same. Skyrim definitely has the potential to give players an adventure worth raving about, but ultimately the game is what you make of it.
Personally, I had a pretty fun time playing as a grumpy old cat-man.
I ended up tinkering around with a lot of characters thanks to the new addition of character specific saves. And while Garfield was fun for a bit, I settled on playing as a Redguard named Jazz who really likes bows and really hates crime. As a vigilante of the land I took any quest that I could do to help people out – but only if i got paid. After many hours of adventuring, I finally scrapped up enough money for a horse and I named him Horse Boy before we set out on our long and twisted journey together. I fought off bandits, pick pocketed anyone I didn’t like, and had a huge bounty in every single town except for the one I was living in – I was pretty much the Robin Hood of Skyrim.
When I packed up my bow, and retired from the crime-fighting scene I had some time to explore the land, I noticed how much Skyrim Special Edition differs from the original game.
Since it’s a remastered edition, it does come with a some changes. They aren’t the most noteworthy though, they just tighten up things that the original Skyrim was slacking on: graphics, load times, and mod support. It also adds all of the DLC if you missed it the first time. While it doesn’t sound like much of a change if you’re a PC user who had most of that stuff, but trust me, it is. As a person who played it on console with standard definition, no mods, unappealing graphics, and endured waiting amounts of time that no human in their right mind should’ve waited for on a video game’s loading screen, it really makes a difference. Those load times were the bane of my 13 year-old’s existence, and seeing them cut in half put a smile on my face, and gave me more time to slay some of those dirty dragons.
I can’t tell you that you’re going to have the best time with Skyrim Special Edition, because it’s one of the most subjective games I’ve ever played. What I can tell you is that if you haven’t played Skyrim yet or if you’re looking for an excuse to jump back in, this is the best way to do it. And there’s a good chance you’ll find an experience that’s special to you. It doesn’t offer anything different from the original game, but it fixes everything that was wrong with it. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a world class warrior or a stay at home dad, there’s an adventure for you in Skyrim Special Edition, you just have to find it.