The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, RPG
Platform: Xbox Series X|S (Also available on Xbox One, PlayStation VR, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, Nintendo Switch)
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 11/11/21
A code was provided for review purposes
Hey, You. You’re Finally Awake
Much like the plethora of faded 80’s/90’s popstars, Skyrim also doesn’t know when to quit. Over the years Bethesda’s open-world RPG has made its presence known on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, PC, and the Nintendo Switch. Not content with letting sleeping Dragons lie – and to celebrate the title’s 10-year anniversary – Skyrim (re-branded as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition) is now available on Xbox Series X|S, and PlayStation 5!
Those of you who’ve treaded the frozen wastes of Northern Tamriel will already know what to expect. But to entice you to become the Dragonborn once more, Bethesda have added some additional goodies to this anniversary edition. But how much of a good thing can you get before the experience sours?
What Is It?
Aside from being responsible for spawning countless memes, Skyrim is the 5th title in the Elder Scrolls series. Set 200 years after the superb The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Skyrim sees you take up the mantle of the Dragonborn as you attempt to thwart a threat from Tamriel’s dark past. What follows is basically the plot of Game of Thrones. You’ll be free to explore the continent of Skyrim, play a part in its political decisions, slay dragons, build a home, adopt kids, and ultimately save the world – or destroy it. The choice is yours as Skyrim frees you from traditional video game shackles, and allows you to play how you want to.
At its heart The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a first person action-RPG that’s set within a sprawling, living world. Aside from its main narrative, there’s an abundance of other things to keep any budding adventurer busy for a few hundred hours. From completing the tutorial, Skyrim allows you to pick any direction, to then discover what’s along that route. Even after experiencing the game for hundreds of hours, there’s a strong guarantee that you still wouldn’t have seen everything. Thankfully for those of you who want a more structured experience there’s also an indepth main story, as well as two fully fleshed out DLC packages too.
The main quest line of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition revolves around the appearance of the dragon Aludin. Having been sent through time by the mysterious Elder Scrolls, Aludin finds itself within the future – long after its supposed defeat in the past…talk about confusing. Anyway, to coincide with this event, your character had recently been arrested by the local Imperial Soldiers due to illegally crossing Skyrim’s border. Now sentenced to death, your character is being escorted to the settlement of Helgan, which is where your story begins.
While the main plot takes you to some interesting places, it’s not where the beauty of this game lies. Instead the true game is the journey your character takes. There’s no class restrictions and you’re able to build your character in any way you choose. Whether you want to be a heavily armoured Battle Mage, or an Assassin, who utilises the power of illusion, Skyrim lets you achieve this goal. There’s plenty of skills to unlock and unlocking them all will certainly take a good few hours.
Happy 10th Anniversary!
For new players – and to entice older players – is the addition of various Creation Club addons. In a nutshell these are a selection of official mods that switch up how the game plays, as well as adding a multitude of new quest lines too. Another great addition is that you don’t necessarily have to buy this new edition to experience this additional content. Those of you who have already purchased the previous ‘Special Edition’ can upgrade this to the ‘Anniversary Edition’ for £12.59 (price correct at time of writing). Considering the content that the curated Creation Club content adds, then it’s really worth the slight investment. If however you choose not to upgrade, there is the addition of a survival mode, fishing mechanics, the ‘Saints & Sinners’ questline, and – for those eligible – Xbox X|S enhancements.
When it comes to the next-gen enhancements, the slightly improved graphics and loading times help to breathe life into this “old dog”. The load times have been dramatically improved to the point where the character models that adorn these screens no longer begin their slow rotate before the game has loaded. Visuals have had a slight improvement, although the “janky” lo-res style still remains. Even back in 2011, Skyrim was never noted for having top of the range graphics. While 10 years later this still remains true, the added prowess of the Xbox Series X|S adds for a much smoother experience.
Mods, Mods, And More Mods!
Where Skyrim really shines is within its abundance of mods. These vary from the Creation Club offerings as they are user created. While some of these can be a little game breaking, the majority either offer unofficial improvements and fixes, to new starting points, weapons, Dungeons, cheats, and even player homes. Just browsing the mod menu offers quite the rabbit hole for any would be Alice to fall down. Chosen mods can also be subscribed to which means that installed mods stay current. While this does open up for you to play around with Skyrim‘s gameplay, to balance the status quo, utilising these mods disable achievements for that particular save. However, all isn’t lost as un-modded saves do remain and these can be loaded up at any time.
Away from the main game, Creation Club, and various mods, the Anniversary Edition also includes the official expansions – Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn. While Dawnguard and Dragonborn offer new quests and content to the game – such as vampires and the ability to ride dragons – Hearthfire tones the action down and allows you to develop your own plot of land.
The Anniversary Edition builds upon the Hearthfire expansion by adding a farm for you to develop too. Set just outside of Riverrun, you’ll be able to purchase a plot of land to develop your farm. It’s pretty indepth as you’ll be able to build out buildings, farm crops, and even own your own animals. If this sounds too much like hard work, you can even employ your own helper, or just ignore it all without any consequences!
Is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition worth playing? As someone who’s experienced the game on multiple consoles – it’s a resounding yes. Even after so many hours of game time you’re bound to find something new, or a different way of doing something. To an extent the game is just one massive fantasy sandbox where you’re the star. While the base title gave you quite a journey the Anniversary Edition brings everyting together into one encore ensemble. The additional Creation Club content is a welcomed addition that fits into the game incredibly well.
Whether you’re a Stormcloak or Imperial veteran, or a fledgling Dragonborn, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition is a game that will take you on a journey. Just how vast is entirely up to you…
Rapid Reviews Rating
5 out of 5
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition is available now and can be purchased via the Microsoft Store by clicking here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.