It was November 11, 2011 when Bethesda Softworks released the acclaimed Skyrim, the fifth chapter of a legendary saga that over time has become synonymous with Western Fantasy RPG: The Elder Scrolls. Today we are here, almost six years later and with a sixth chapter still in hiding, to welcome the market The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition, HD remastering of the epic title developed by Bethesda Game Studios and that now takes advantage of several of the graphic improvements made to the Creation Engine since Fallout 4 ... will it be enough?
"And the Scrolls have foretold, black wings in the cold sky, when brother will fight brother, Alduin misfortune of kings, ancient shadow never tamed with boundless hunger!"
Skyrim is set two hundred years after the events of Oblivion (fourth chapter of the saga), during the year 201 of the 4th era, in the homonymous and cold northern region of the continent of Tamriel. The country, which for years remained at peace thanks to its status as a province of the Empire, is now in turmoil due to the assassination of Torygg, King of Kings, at the hands of Ulfric Mantle of the Storm, ultra-nationalist North and leader of the rebellion against the Empire; this event marks the beginning of a hard and ferocious civil war. The cause of the revolt is the "White Gold Concordat", a treaty that the Empire was forced to accept to end the bloody war against the Second Aldmeri Domain, the kingdom of the High Elves. According to this treaty, the cult of Talos is now to be considered prohibited: Talos, formerly known as Tiber Septim, was the First Dragonborn Emperor. Considered by the Empire the hero who had ascended from man to divinity, he went to join the other eight divine entities that go, together with the Daedric Princes who inhabit the otherworldly plane of Oblivion, to compose the complex mythological pantheon of the saga. The Aldmeri, however, had always considered such ascension a heresy, and were interested in extinguishing the cult, also because Talos was the one who put an end to the First Dominion of the Aldmeri and unified the Empire 600 years earlier, towards the end of the 2nd era; with the concordat, therefore, the High Elves had succeeded in their intent, however, unleashing the ire of the inhabitants of Skyrim, the Nords, who so loved and followed that cult.
The ruler of Eastmarch, one of the regions of Skyrim, Ulfric Cloak of the Storm, refused to come to terms with the Aldmeri and thus began the civil war to re-establish the name of Talos and make Skyrim independent of the Empire, considered too weak. and coward. The civil war between separatists and imperial loyalists, however, becomes something of little consequence compared to the real threat that stands out on Mundus (the planet on which Tamriel is located): the return of the dragons; Alduin, the black dragon known as the Eater of the World, has in fact returned from the past, determined to regain control of the Mundus, which once belonged to him. This is where the player comes in playing the role of the Dovahkiin (Dragon's Blood in the language of dragons), descendant of Talos and the Septim (the Emperors of Tamriel until the death of the last heir, Martin, in TES IV: Oblivion) whose dynasty should now be extinct. Only the Dovahkiin, Tamriel's only hope, has the power to oppose Alduin and the dragons thanks to the ability to absorb their souls to use the "Voice", an innate ability that allows mortals to replicate the powerful "Shouts" with the which dragons conjure their flames or perform magic.
"I too was once an adventurer like you ... until I got an arrow (HD) in my knee"
The approach to Skyrim Special Edition, for a player who already devoured the original title at the time (as opposed to a neophyte of the title), is unfortunately not the most exciting: the game looks like an improvement exclusively graphic, therefore without adding any new quests or features, and which leaves other features untouched such as, for better or for worse, the gameplay, while inexplicably worsening a couple that we will see later. Starting right from the graphic side, the title now enjoys a completely revised lighting system and several enhancements: thanks to the improvements made by Fallout 4, the Creation Engine (the "made in Bethesda" graphics engine that replaced the antiquated Gamebryo used in previous productions) has been enriched with volumetric rays of light, improved effects, high definition textures (which, at the time of the original game, were only available on PC as free DLC), a dynamic field of view, reflective surfaces and new snow and water shaders, all with full support for the much more stable 64-bit of modern systems. Overall, there is now a much more convincing and much more pleasing visual rendering thanks to brighter colors (instead of the faded and greyish tint that once characterized the landscape of Skyrim); however, one fundamental thing must be said: this comparison is based exclusively on the Vanilla, ie non-modded, versions of the title as, with the application of even a handful of the hundreds of thousands of mods released over the years, the original Skyrim can still surpass this remaster in several places.
However, improved effects do not guarantee miracles: the legacy of one weighs on Skyrim not-so-great polygon complexity along with clunky and woody animations that already broke the atmosphere at the time, this highlights the inexorable passing of the years and creates a not always pleasant qualitative discontinuity. Worse still if that joins the presence of several unsolved bugs that still haunt the game code, especially on the front of interpenetrations and physics. On the sound side, the title presents a strange paradox: the sound effects and, above all, musical sector still has an overwhelming force thanks to the majestic soundtrack of the master Jeremy Soule but, for an inexplicable choice, the whole is worse than the original due to an insane degree of audio compression to work Bethesda same (major discrepancy if headphones are used); this is just one of the two most obvious technical problems introduced by this remaster along with an unstable framerate that, although sWithout ever dropping below 30 FPS, it struggles to hit 60 outdoors on both PC and PS4 consoles (where indeed it has a lock of 30 in every situation, even indoors). In the hope that Bethesda will intervene with a corrective patch, the shortcomings on these fronts unfortunately remain undeniable.
"Do you often come to the mod district?"
If earlier we mentioned the superiority on the mod front of the original title, it should be considered that the Special Edition is already receiving numerous conversions of particularly famous mods which, thanks to 64 bits, over time they will allow the remaster to reach and surpass its predecessor thanks to a superior overall stability and, therefore, to support many more mods (even more complex ones) at the same time. This will guarantee the title an even more mammoth longevity than it already is now: Skyrim Special Edition includes, along with the base game, all three DLCs released at the time (Dawnguard, Dragonborn and Heartfire) leading to the need for hundreds and hundreds of hours of dedication and patience before it can be said, quite proudly, to have explored the title in every corner.
Returning to the mod issue, Bethesda, exactly like with Fallout 4, has officially opened its doors also to the console market thanks to the Bethesda.net portal, albeit with limits: mods will disable the unlocking of trophies / achievements (limitation that can be circumvented with further mods only on PC) due to the cheat nature that some may present, moreover, but only on PS4, Bethesda was forced by Sony to limit the size of each mod to a maximum of 1 GB, together with the obligation to rely only on assets within the title for the creation of the aforementioned. These limitations weigh heavily on the variety and quantity of mods that can be downloaded, but they represent a compromise necessary to guarantee a minimum landing on PlayStation; there is nothing left but to hope that Sony decides to re-evaluate these criteria in the future.
"FUS… RO… .DAH !!"
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition is therefore a wasted opportunity? "Nì": the possibility for younger players, or those who have not been able to try the title at the time, to immerse themselves in the fantastic Tolkien-like universe of Bethesda is now even more tempting and recommended; moreover, replaying the title from the beginning can be a good way for veterans to alleviate the spasmodic wait for the sequel (which seems to be still very long) although the choice to remaster an older chapter, like Oblivion, would have been much more pleasant ... but also costly in terms of time and resources given the need to recreate the game from scratch! Bethesda's choice of offer the remaster for free for all PC owners of the original (+ DLC), while the choice of selling the console version at full price may be questionable.