The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was one of the first open world games with which I spent an embarrassing amount of time. There have been others since, and there will be more in the future, but Skyrim remains near and dear to my heart because it was the first I played way too much (but not really too much at all).
Now, several years later, it is time to return to the land of Skyrim, as a new, ‘suped up, Special Edition has hit the current generation of consoles. This version doesn’t just offer all the various bits of DLC but it has been rejiggered (it’s a technical term) to utilize the graphical capabilities of the PS4 and Xbox One. Consequently—and expectedly—it looks fantastic. It looked great five years ago in its original incarnation on PS3 and Xbox 360s, and it looks even better now.
Yes, it has been five years since Skyrim first hit store shelves and nearly as long since my review was published. Consequently, it’s probably been four years since I put a significant amount of time in and nearly 18 months since I picked it up at all. But, even that is saying something. I picked it up 18 months ago on my PS3 and I sunk right back in as though I had never left. I was still intrigued by it after that many years, and that really doesn’t happen with a lot of games.
In fact, because of this quantity of time spent playing the original version, even if the last time was 18 months ago, I was nervous about playing the new one. I was scared that it would all have a “been there, done that” feel even if I hadn’t been there or done that in a while. Interestingly, what I found was that while Skyrim Special Edition did sometimes cause me to think back on my first time through any of the various quests I have redone, and to remember my discussions with various Jarls, and learning smithing, and joining the Companions, and becoming a part of the Dark Brotherhood, remembering those experiences never diminished my desire to have them again, to see if I would choose to play it all out in the exact same fashion.
Quite consciously, I chose a different character for this new trip through the world, and while my goal was to initially take a different path from my previous one, all too soon I lost my way. That is, I realized that I wanted to do what I wanted to do and I wanted to go through it making the choices that seemed right to me and not necessarily ones that were different from the ones that I made last time. I am sure that some of those decisions were the same—my worldview not having altered hugely over the past five years—but some were different as well (my worldview isn’t exactly the same).
Unlike many other open world RPGs that all too quickly devolve into a series of fetch or kill quests, Skyrim never quite feels like it’s doing that. And here’s the thing about that – it is even if it doesn’t feel like it. There are a lot of fetch quests and a lot of assassination quests. Where Skyrim excels is in the fact that it is able to give each and every one of those quests an involved story and/or a series of choices for the player to make. The quests may eventually repeat goals, but they never repeat story and they are not shallow.
It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I traverse the world either – there is always someone new out there who needs help. I have dozens of open quests/sidequests currently and every time I go to finish one of them, I seem to run into six other people who would have me do things for them. I love it.
So, if you enjoyed Skyrim the first time out but have hesitated on going back to the world in its new, prettier, form, hesitate no longer. Jump back in. Join the Empire, join the Dawnguard, join the Thieves Guild. Even if you’ve done it once, it is absolutely worth doing again.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol. This game can also be found on: Xbox One and Windows PC.