Standard, Collector, Special, Legendary and now Anniversary. In ten years, the fifth chapter of The Elder Scrolls series hasn’t missed anything, especially in terms of platforms.
Bethesda’s mammoth RPG has been released on three and a half generations of consoles, PCs, and even smart devices like the Amazon Echo.
The amount of reviews, specials, insights, essays, theses, legends and myths circulating around Skyrim is practically incalculable and there are many who consider it the best RPG ever made.
After selling over 30 million copies and grossing a whopping one and a half billion dollars, how does this exclusively single-player game still be so popular? Millions of players return to challenge him for the third, fourth … tenth time, they know him by heart, yet they are stimulated without interruption.
Also thanks to the very large group of modders who have eviscerated, cleaned up, modified and enhanced the game in a thousand different ways. A huge selection of those changes is now included in the Skyrim Anniversary Edition, which arrives on new-gen consoles obviously bringing with it the base adventure and the three official expansions: Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn.
I myself reviewed the original game exactly ten years ago, giving it a very important vote but not even being able to imagine that at the threshold of 50 years I would go back to talking about it and celebrating its glories … and instead, here I am.
Obviously I will avoid telling you the story of Skyrim and describing its gameplay characteristics, which by now even my dog knows by heart. What we are going to analyze today is the Anniversary “package”: does it have what it takes to convince us to start the adventure once again?
We played it on PlayStation 5, which just recently blew the first candle, with the aim of answering a few simple questions: how does it behave two generations later? Does it still hold up? Does it take advantage of the hardware peculiarities of the Sony machine?
Let’s start with the contents. Over 500 Creation Club game elements are included in this Anniversary Edition, many can be downloaded immediately at no additional cost, others with an in-game pecuniary expense that can also be purchased with real money. Many of these are items, weapons, relics, mount vestments and accessories that will modify your base character in various ways.
There are currently around fifty mods available, with a couple of dozen more on the way in the weeks to follow. Among the free ones there are three that stand out above the others and that alone are able to lengthen the “leg” of the already full-bodied base game.
The Survival mode (already known to those who have attended Skyrim from the Special Edition onwards) for example will force you to deal with cold, hunger and fatigue that will make you feel biting when you travel in the most inhospitable lands.
By activating it at the beginning of the game you will have to be careful to take shelter so as not to perish in the blizzards, to look for food with which to restore energy and not to succumb to fatigue by resting when possible … this obviously in addition to all the dangers already existing in Skyrim. Interesting, as it gives an extra touch of realism, even if in the long run it tends to “slow down” the pace a little too much.
The second content is entitled “Saints and Seducers”. This is a small expansion dating back to a couple of years ago that is based on a substantial new storyline that takes you around two main quests and numerous side missions. The plot is pervaded by a veil of mystery that makes it particularly interesting.
There is talk of supernatural materials, arcane legends, a mad wizard who draws his powers from the Shivering Islands and a dungeon in whose depths, illuminated by iridescent roots, hides a sword of unknown powers. To accompany the adventure you will also find some brand new sets of weapons and armor, about thirty in all, new objects, spells, ingredients, potions and much more.
Last but not least, fishing: you missed it, right? Finally, also in Skyrim, as in hundreds of other RPGs, you will be able to prove your skills in catching fish products of various kinds and sizes. However, you will not be able to do it everywhere but only in certain predefined “spots”, which greatly limits the attractiveness of this option.
There are over 20 varieties of fish that populate the bodies of water of the kingdom, and when you have caught one you can decide whether to eat it, display it as a trophy or give it a second life in your personal aquarium. A diversion that is not very original but useful to get a little distracted between one mission and another.
What has been described so far is only the tip of the iceberg of a truly generous amount of content with which you can customize your first or nth experience in the world of Skyrim. It must be said that not all of them deserve the same attention, but since they are there why not try them?
If you are particularly nostalgic you can also equip your Dragonborn with armor and weapons from previous The Elder Scrolls chapters, such as those included in the “Ghosts of the Tribunal” DLC, which takes you back to the glory of Morrowind. There are also references to Oblivion but these, like many other contents in the appropriate section, we leave you the pleasure of discovering them for yourself.
On PlayStation 5 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Anniversary Edition runs in 4K at 60 fps with a fairly solid frame rate, “soiled” only on occasion by short and irrelevant hesitations. It must be said that resolution boosts aside, the game does not change that much in terms of aesthetics; therefore, do not expect who knows what aesthetic leap compared to the versions already seen on the previous generation of consoles.
The uploads, on the other hand, are improved, benefiting from the landing on the performing SSD of the Sony console with a more than perceptible reduction in waiting times. For Trophy hunters it’s worth pointing out, not without a streak of disappointment, that the Skyrim Special Edition next-gen PS5 update doesn’t allow you to import your earned Trophies to PlayStation 4 … ergo, you’ll have to win them all back from boss.
At the end of the speech we therefore propose the question posed at the beginning: does this Anniversary Edition have what it takes to convince us to start the Skyrim adventure once again? The quality of the game itself is unquestionable and the amount of extra material included is truly remarkable, but perhaps something more could be done to make the experience a little smoother for the less enthusiastic and / or younger audience.
A minimal update to the interface, for example, would not have hurt and the inclusion of some “tuning mod” left out would certainly have benefited the general usability. That said, whether you are part of the most loyal community or one of the few who in the past has not had the opportunity to play the Bethesda title in one of its many previous forms … the answer can only be yes.
This is definitely the definitive version of the fifth chapter of The Elder Scrolls V, even if the asking price for the complete package is a little too high for a game that still carries ten years of experience. A price tag of 39.99 would have been perfect, but keep in mind that if you already own the Special Edition the dive into the Anniversary will cost you “only” 19.99.
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