Review: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition (PS4).
One of the greatest RPGs ever made is back! All in all, it’s only a five-year production that whoever was supposed to play did long ago. And yet it is worth it – especially for short loadings and for the Polish language version. Well… there are also mods. Let’s say.
Morrowind, Oblivion – The Elder Scrolls series gave birth to more than one masterpiece, and yet Skyrim was the ideal game for me. Even if I used every mistake she made to survive on a higher difficulty level. Anyway, I have long said that if I were to ever buy a remaster at full price, it would be The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3). I have great memories of my 150+ hours on PS3, but after a while there is reflection – the loading times when entering or exiting a small store were so long that I always had a magazine on hand, and then I switched to light books. But I was playing. But I never got back into the game with those damn loading screens in mind. If the Skyrim – Special Edition reviewed today would fix that by itself, I’d be pleased (although the review would be rather negative). Fortunately, we have many more attractions.
If by some miracle you have not dealt with Skyrim, we play the role of Dragonborn (“Dragonborn” sounds … average), who lands in the middle of a civil war between the forces of the Empire and the Thunderer. Both sides, however, must change their priorities, as dragons return to their world after hundreds of years. Our hero can use their language without learning and absorb dragon souls, which makes him a power that both sides must reckon with. It is strange, however, to write about Skyrim’s plot in such a sparing way, when there are so many different plots, significant guilds, ancient secrets and vengeful gods here. The most important thing is that this whole envelope more than compensates for the rather mediocre main plot, justifying (sometimes by force) the presence of dragons.
As for the gameplay, you certainly don’t feel any shortcomings in today’s games. It is even surprising that other big games have not implemented a sensational skill training system just by using them. A well thought out thing. And whether the world scaling to the player’s level is a good solution is an individual matter, but realizing this mechanics, no one should be suddenly rejected “because I trained alchemy or lockpicking instead of sword fighting and now the opponents are too strong”. If you remember Skyrim from its launch, you’ll also be pleased with the new kill-cams that have been added to archery and battle spells.
Over the past few months, we’ve been inundated with graphical comparisons, which are theoretically the most important aspect of the refreshed version. How it is? Well… average. It didn’t take me for a moment to think that it would turn into a 2016 AAA game, and I couldn’t spot the big changes the publisher was honking about. Only when I turned on the PS3 version I noticed the poorness of the original and I appreciated the Special Edition a bit. First of all, what is noticeable is the lack of crazy textures and the significantly increased distance for drawing objects. Your eyes will thank you for the former, and your friends will hate the latter. Because how is there to break away from the game when even more things distract us while traveling?
The flora is also a big change. Grasses, bushes and all kinds of other plants make the huge game world look great (although forget about the windswept tree crowns). The empty fields with rare flowers to pick, which we saw in the console original, look pretty pathetic. After all, shadows also fall out naturally, but this also only becomes noticeable when compared to the PS3. In terms of lighting effects, god rays, or better-looking water, this is nothing that will make you stop and start using the SHARE button insanely. The whole thing just looks pretty good, nothing else. Of course, to the highest settings from a PC, it does not all start (apart from the modifications of models and textures there), but no one counted on such miracles.
In addition to the graphics, we have a standard of refreshing not-so-old games, i.e. better gameplay smoothness and faster loading. However, the latter point is crucial. On PS3, loading times were often reaching minutes, and we’re talking about the usual transition between small locations. Sometimes I skipped selling items after returning to town because I didn’t want to wait so long to enter the store and get the few hundred gold pieces. Now things are completely different. Each loading screen is a maximum of a few seconds. There is a mod that adds world history descriptions to the usual loading screen hints, but what good do I need if I don’t have time to read any of these descriptions? There is also a convenient quick save option, and the game itself divides all saves into those with and without mods … Okay, it’s time to move on to those loudly announced player modifications.
When it comes to mods, don’t count on much. Sony’s limitations destroyed this idea. “Console mods,” screamed Bethesda. “… but without anything outside the game,” added the Japanese giant. Thus, for example, we can have new skills, but only if we replace the existing ones. Forget about new textures or enemy models known from PC. We usually have easier / faster gaining experience or other to make fun easier. But there are also gems among the creations available here! Replacing skill trees, additional types of arrows (e.g. fire, pushing, summoning skeletons) or new spells (e.g. acceleration or disarming) are great, but it’s just a taste of what we will never experience on PS4. It’s so good that everything is easy to understand here and everyone will be able to easily add selected mods.
Among the other advantages of the Special Edition I must mention the presence of DLC extensions. In addition to “Hearthfire”, where we build a house and adopt children (… why?), “Dragonborn” presents an additional plot with a fake Dragon Child (with a large island as an additional location and hopeless dragon riding), and “Dawnguard” shows the struggles of a special group fighting vampires, while adding new skill trees for the werewolf and the vampire lord (completely different than the regular bloodsucker from the stand!). Several hours of decent gameplay with new masks, equipment and screams. But we already had that in the usual “complete edition” of the original.
However, we didn’t even have native subtitles on PS3, and here we get the full Polish language version. PC players can laugh at my admiration, but it is extremely pleasant – even if a few voices do not suit a given NPC at all, and using one actor for dozens of characters is the norm. Krzysztof Kowalewski, Wiktor Zborowski and even Piotr Fronczewski appeared in one of the most important roles in the game. The translation itself is also great, although I would prefer the original names in some cases, because, for example, the city of Riften as a Polish Pęknina, is average for me. Or maybe it’s just a matter of getting used to the English version of the PS3 …
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition (PS4) is a fairly average remaster of a great game. There are no graphic fireworks and you can feel that we are playing with a five-year production. In addition, Sony has buried a great idea for adding mods, and there is also the problem of blocking trophies when using modifications. Apparently fair, but I don’t want the fun with mods to be a temporary escape from the real game (unless you’re not interested in cups). However, taking into account that we get full crack, short loading and (after all) the best setting on consoles, it is worth returning to this masterpiece. Even if the final grade is “only” …