Revisiting Skyrim? Read Our Finest Words On It

Skyrim Special Edition is out now, meaning that players old and new are again flooding the mountains of Bethesda’s snowiest RPG. To celebrate, we’ve gathered together some of the finest words and pictures RPS produced about the game over the past five years – including reviews, mod recommendations, screenshot guides, songs about Lydia, cartoons about wolves, nudity, and more.

Skyrim reviews

Skyrim review

Every time Bethesda reveal a new game, one of the first queries they have to deal with is how big its world is compared to previous games, with the general onlooker sentiment being that their open worlds are shrinking with every new generation. I can promise you that Skyrim is an enormous game, perhaps Bethesda’s biggest yet in my perception of it, and that isn’t anything to do with landmass (of which there is a vast and wonderfully varied amount). It’s because there’s so damned much to do. Hours fly by, great adventures are embarked on, and it barely dents what’s on offer. The thieves’ guild questline alone, the closest thing my time with the game had to a fixed purpose, offers more than do most other big-budget games’ singleplayer modes.

Skyrim’s a big old game and Alec wrote two further addendums to his review as he played even more of it. You can read those here and here.

Skyrim Dawnguard review

I am somewhat perplexed as to many of the design decisions made in Dawnguard – were they a result of limited resources, of Bethesda’s A-team having already moved on to the next project, or simply of faltering imaginations? Not my place to speculate perhaps, but the result is, if not an actual failure, a drawn-out disappointment, and very much at odds with earlier claims made regarding Skyrim expansions being game-changers rather than just more of the same content.

Skyrim Dragonborn review

The question, I suppose, is whether it’s enough to drag one back into Skyrim. For me, it was. In Dawnguard I felt like I was continuing because I had to, here I feel like I’m having a good time doing my own thing in a new place that hybridises Skyrim and Morrowind.

Skyrim was ultimately RPS’s game of the year for 2011, surprising no one. The team gathered on Christmas Eve to discuss its merits.

The Games Of Christmas 2011: Day 24 – Skyrim

We’ve chosen Skyrim, the game we, as a collective of Old Men, have had the most fun with in 2011. You only have to browse through the archives over the past couple of months to see how much we’ve enjoyed ourselves, and that sort of speaks to me as a gamer and as a writer. One of the founding principles of RPS has always been that we should write as much as we can, or as much as we like, about the games we are enjoying. That principle soon expanded to have more of a “let’s try and be a broad church and post all the news, too” but the fundamentals of the site remain about writing lots of guff about arsing about in games. Skyrim is one of those games that, by virture of what it is and what it does, generates anecdotes, ideas, and pleasurable frothings of writerly inspiration. So we wrote. And wrote.

Skyrim gripes

Although most of us loved the game from launch, it wasn’t without its flaws and detractors. It’s worth remembering some of those issues now, perhaps in light of Bethesda’s new review policy.

Hey Bethesda, Could You Fix Skyrim?

We’re loving Skyrim. Nary a spare second of our spare time isn’t spent hacking and exploding our way through it. But we’d really like it if it worked properly. Bethesda’s patches have so far been peculiar in the extreme, seemingly making the game more broken, or just fixing the last patch. With new additions breaking mods, and introducing backward flying dragons, I’d like to suggest that future patches maybe strike a bold new direction and bring in some improvements. But what improvements? Below is a selection of what we think Bethesda needs to do to make Skyrim be the game it deserves to be.

Skyrim’s Silly User Interface Choices

Oh, Skyrim. I really am so enamoured by your peaks, and your misty valleys. Oh, what a beautiful world, filled with possibility and with cheese. Oh, Skyrim, let us bask in the the spook of your ghosts and squirm in the horror of your catacombs. Let us be gleefully smacked about by giants and devoured by dragons. Let us steal hats and trade them for unexpected potions. Oh, Skyrim. There’s so much to you that there are even ants crawling on this log! Blimey.

And then we bring up the menu. Oh, Skyrim.

Skyrim mods

Skyrim has one of the healthiest and most popular modding communities of any game ever, and we’ll be updating some of our mod coverage in the coming weeks with newly relevant recommendations. Here are some pieces from the archive that remain useful right now, however.

How To Make Skyrim A Survival Game

If you want to plod through the winter wastelands of Tamriel with the same ‘survival mode’ in mind yourself, these are the mods you’ll want to add. Most of them come from a single source, the Nexus modding community. Before you grab them, it is best to have their Nexus Mod Manager installed, as well as something called SKSE. (You will also have to register to join the Nexus community to download these files). Getting all this architecture in place is a minor frustration compared to the improvements you’ll see in the end. It will be worth it when you find yourself freezing to death under a rocky outcrop with no wood to start a fire.

Skyrim Survival Diary

I found Meeko sitting by the side of the road. He is one of Skyrim’s shaggy, grey wolfhounds that look as old as they do stupid. He saw me, turned around and ran into the thicket. I followed him through the trees, where he led me to a run-down shack. I looked inside and there, lying still and grey on the shed’s single rickety bed, was Meeko’s owner. He was dead. The mongrel looked to me, blinked in the cold and seemed to whine. All right then, I thought, you can follow me. It was a decision I never came to regret. Later on, Meeko killed a lot of people for me.

Skyrim Special Edition adds extra pretties to the 2011 game, but mods have been doing that for years. These that Adam lists here from a couple weeks after release have long been improved upon by other mods, but it’s interesting to compare them to how the Special Edition looks five years later all the same.

In 2014, Duncan ‘Dead End Thrills’ Harris wrote us a guide to how he makes Skyrim so look pretty in his gorgeous screenshots. These tips are definitely still relevant, whether it’s the mods it links or the console commands it suggests.

Skyrim: A Screenshot Guide

What posters of modded Skyrim shots fail to mention is that their game only looks like that 1 per cent of the time, from 0.01 per cent of the vantage points on the map. The numbers are only slightly better for any videogame screenshot worth a damn. Whether you’re an industry screenshot artist or a Steam Community superstar or whatever, what you’re doing is marketing. Selling. Lying by omission.

Perhaps your modding goals are more base, however.

S.EXE: Schlongs of Skyrim (NSFW)

So anyway, in the interest of New Schlong Journalism me and a friend downloaded Schlongs of Skyrim, a mod for Skyrim which frankly just makes large fat growable schlongs available on male NPCs. We also made use of the mod ‘Bathing Beefcake Luxury Suite’, a mod inserting a Skyrim beefcake spa near Whiterun, to make it easier to view tadgers with ease.

Skyrim fun

If you played Skyrim, you met Lydia. How long you spent with her is up to you, but John became quite attached… until her unfortunate demise.

Say, Have you Met Lydia?

Lydia, oh Lydia, as much use as chlamydia
Oh Lydia the queen of to-dos
In a doorway she’ll stand, if given the chance
Blocking access to chests is her foremost romance
Her ultimate goal is to block your advance
You can’t go anywhere with Lydia

The Life And Death of Skyrim’s Lydia

I readily concede that there’s nothing specifically technical about Lydia that makes her any different from any of the other hirelings you can have accompany you as you play. Whether it’s the creepily long-hair-and-balding weirdo, or the guy who informs you that you’ve been a great friend to him after you beat him in a fist-fight, they’re all going to stand in doorways, walk into a rack of frying pans when you’re stealthing, or time things to ensure they step on every trap trigger just as you’re in the danger zone. It’s what they do.

Want the answer to Skyrim’s greatest mystery? John also solved it.

Meanwhile, Alec was solving… a different problem?

Skyrim: Naked Friday In Whiterun

Recently, I maxed out pickpocketing in Sykrim. The top perk for doing this is that you can even rob items that people have equipped. This includes, for some reason, their clothes. Yep: they do not notice you removing their clothes. It’s a handy way of making heavily-protected enemies a little less tough before you go in for the kill, which is about the only reason I can think it was included.

It’s also a way of humiliating an NPC populace that has absolutely no idea it’s being humiliated, and would continue to treat me politely even though I could see their nipples. My cause was clear: every single citizen of Whiterun must be stripped to their underpants. It took me one long, strange evening, but I did it. Welcome to the naked city.

Fortunately or unfortunately Alec didn’t pair this pursuit with Schlongs of Skyrim, linked above.

We wrote much more about the game, all of which can be found in the archive.

From this site

40 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    RaveTurned says:

    Yes, but is it any good?

    • GameCat says:

      No, it isn’t.

      • dangermouse76 says:

        Yes, it is.

        • Love Albatross says:

          How’s that then?

          Cos it seems like this is only any good if you’re a Skyrim player who has never and will never use mods. Anyone else can already make OG Skyrim look better than the revamped version, and still have access to an enormous library of mods to improve just about every aspect of the game.

          The lack of SkyUI alone makes this vastly inferior.

          • dangermouse76 says:

            I like the vanilla game. Must be unusual. I think the skse will be moved over soon. So hopefully sky ui will come as well.

            I have moded skyrim before though. And it’s a great feature.

          • Thurgret says:

            I tried using mods, and it was just too fiddly for me. Rather not have my game crash or be beset by peculiar bugs, or discover two hours in that a mod pack had given draugr really brightly glowing eyes and removing that mod makes the whole save a bit wonky.

            (Played some hours of Enderal and quite enjoying it, but it’s an all in one thing and, well, also crashes once every hour or two.)

            Happy to see an update to the vanilla version, and will probably revisit Skyrim with it.

          • Regicider 12.4% says:

            DX11 let modders play with nicer graphical stuff. x64 executable allow you to easily spawn 200 dragons without the engine giving up the ghost. The game will handle mods better so it’e better for mod users.
            If you prefer modding the old 32-bit it’s still in your library.

            I always mod the crap out of Bethesda’s games and I did with the old version but I’m actually surviving playing the new one completely vanilla with a controller in an armchair.

  2. Ghostwise says:

    Personally I’m waiting for the good folks at STEP to have a full guide for the Extended, which means in turn leaving time for modders to work. So, months.

  3. Grim Rainbow says:

    I wish they’d stop farting and milking and just make Elder Scrolls 6.

    • A Wanderer says:

      Make The Elder Scrolls VI : Elsweyr already, goddamnit !

      • Grim Rainbow says:

        Elder Scrolls VI: Pussmarshal. Khajiit taking advantage of an Argonian civil war.

      • Turkey says:

        I wonder if they’ll hold off on doing the weird continents now that the Elder Scrolls series is such an insane mainstream success.

        • ZippyLemon says:

          link to idigitaltimes.com

          iDigitalTimes are really notable in BGS speculation in that they report on every scrap of information in the most journalistic way possible. Only reporting actual insight via comments made by Todd Howard and Pete Hines and other insiders – always verifiable quotes.

          I believe this article. The events of Skyrim all point to Hammerfell. It’s basically the only other province they developed in a meaningful way in the last ten years (“Vvardenfell exploded and Morrowind got mightily fucked up” the only other thing happening these days on Tamriel).

          As for the games after, I don’t know. But Hammerfell sits in a nice sweet spot between alien and understandable ^_^

          • Thurgret says:

            Seems a reasonable guess. Despite that Morrowind was in a province of dark elves, I think that they may prefer to keep the NPC population primarily human. I rather expect that if it was something really outlandish – Argonians or Khajit – that it may just not sell so well (personally, I like the Elder Scrolls, but I have never liked a Khajit character).

    • Regicider 12.4% says:

      The Elder Scrolls V-2: Revenge of Skyrim: Revelation.
      Ever seen people asking for “Skyrim 2”?

  4. brucethemoose says:

    For anyone who misses ENB in the new Skyrim, let me point you towards ReShade (which just recently had a major release):

    https://reshade.me

    You should already be using it in every non-competetive game you play, of course… But I will forgive that minor transgression, just this once.

    • Jay Load says:

      I though some form of ENB was baked into the new Skyrim?

      • brucethemoose says:

        Yeah it has some post processing, but there’s nothing stopping you from adding more effects on top of that.

        You can also turn off the effects and replace them with better alternatives. I hear that the new depth of field, for example, is kind of funky, so you could turn it off and replace it with one of ReShade’s numerous implementations. And FXAA should be replaced with SMAA, with the temporal and depth components of your rig can handle it.

    • Jay Load says:

      Now that I’ve had a look, what a fabulous tool this is! Can’t believe I’ve never heard of it: thanks for bringing it to my attention. Can’t wait to give it a go! :)

      • brucethemoose says:

        It’s tragically under-appreciated. In fact, the dev went though a rather gloomy period because many modders were distributing ReShade presets and stripping the modest credits out of it for their own “‘hancer” mods.

        You’ve probably used it before without even knowing it.

        Seeing how RPS frequently covers graphics mods, why they haven’t written about a mod that enhances ANY DirectX/OpenGL game is just beyond my comprehension.

        • Shazbut says:

          Just echoing the thanks for mentioning this. It sounds amazing. Maybe drop someone at rps an email asking them to write about it. It worked for me once

  5. MrFinnishDude says:

    Ha! I’ve installed like at least 6 different ENBs in my Skyrim modding career, and every single one looked much more stunning than any of these screenshots.
    I guess there’s no sensible reason for a PC player to get special edition other than laziness, It’s for the console players I suppose.
    Still, paying full price for something PC players get for free and better. What’s up with that?

    • Rizlar says:

      Erm, only the top image appears to be of the new edition, if that. The other ones are from old articles. Unless you were talking about screenshots elsewhere?

      Don’t want to be a Contrary Mary but I believe the new edition is also 64-bit, which lifts some limitations on the original game and mods.

      • MrFinnishDude says:

        Huh, oh silly me. I mistook the one about the screenshot guide as one, so therefore i mistook the others too. Mistakes happen but my point still stands.

    • Regicider 12.4% says:

      Eventually those same mods, plus better ones will make the Special Edition even better than the modded original.
      64-bit is a huge improvement for modding!

      Also, I believe they pay full price for the new version that PC players get for free because it wasn’t available for PS4 and XBone before (will also release on Nintendo Switch). No backward compatibility on consoles.

  6. pH101 says:

    For me, I’ll always remember the time Skyrim, RPSs’ 2011 game of the year and one of the biggest, most open and most ambitious RPG’s ever made, came in at no. 33 in RPSs’ list of 50 best RPG’s on PC, ranking below clicker’s such as Titan Quest (a great clicker mind), builder dwarf fortress (a great builder) and a popular console action game with no dialogue.

  7. CartonofMilk says:

    wonder if i’ll find it in me to play the special edition. I skipped Skyrim up until now. And yet oblivion is supposedly my fav game of all time. But i don’t know..it was partly a matter of timing, it came out in a time when i didn’t feel i had enough time to commit to games that i could do skyrim justice (i’d spent 450 or so hour in oblivion) and i told myself well there’ll be dlcs eventually anyway, and the more you wait, the more mods there will be, so no rush.

    And then about one year later i got hooked on an online rpg in which i sank all my time, at that point i HAD a lot of time to devote to games but i was addicted to putting them all in one game. Two years passed this way until eventually i managed to quit the mmorpg cold turkey and resume playing other games.

    It wasn’t long before i went to look at skyrim. There’s a day i remember thinking ok i’ll do it, i’ll get the game, i’m ready now. Then i went looking at a mods site, i felt so overwhelmed with all the time that would be necessary to find and install and sort out all the mods i would need for this game (oblivion wouldn’t have been half the experience it was without the mods, i think bethesda games REQUIRE mods to be great) that i just decided not to bother. And besides so many years had passed i felt i probably just missed my chance, the graphics would look dated to me now anyway, better wait for the next ES i told myself.

    And so here i am now, still haven’t touched the sequel to my fav game of all time. For some weird reason. It feels especially a shame to me because in all ES games i’ve ALWAYS played a Nord and when they announced the game was to be set in skyrim i thought finally i can play in my home country! Maybe the special edition is the second chance i needed.

    • Harvey says:

      If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the plethora of mods, there is nothing wrong with going vanilla at first. I played that way for my first character and it gave me an idea of what mods I wanted to search for, what holes in the experience needed filling, yanno?

      Objectively speaking, you WILL want SkyUI. Yes.

  8. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    Skyrim is one of my favorite games ever, and probably always will be thanks to the circumstances of my life when it came out. Booted up the special edition last night and discovered to my delight that there’s actually a whole bunch of dialogue in Riverwood I’d never seen before–my previous policy on making a new character was always to fuck off into the wilderness as quickly as possible, or to use an alternate start mod, and so I’d totally missed some of the scripted stuff early on. This game really is the gift that keeps on giving.

    I got the SE for free, and as an owner of the original it’s not something I’d pay a lot for in any case–if you didn’t have the DLC needed to get the free copy, modding the original will probably serve you just as well. But I do think they’ve done a nice job with it–the new lighting lends more of a sense of heightened reality to the original’s grim-n-gritty palette, and the new DoF effect looks great during conversations. If you’ve never played Skyrim before, this is the way to go I think.

  9. DancesWithSheep says:

    I stopped at a measly 100 hours after Skyrim was released and having the SE turn up in my collection just prompts me to wander down its road again. I always love the early hours in a sandbox game where leveling makes me feel stronger. I am guessing I will stop well short of the 50 hour mark but may actually do the story this time.

    • fish99 says:

      The main story is one of the worst parts of Skyrim, only the rebellion/imperials questline is worse IMO. I’d say the Thieves and Assassins guild quest lines are the best, plus the main questline from Dawnguard and Dragonborn. Mages/Fighters/Daedric quests are solid too.

      Always makes me sad when I hear someone say they ‘just did the main quest’ in Skyrim. It’s <10% of the game.

  10. Faldrath says:

    I take it that if all I’m playing is Enderal, I don’t need to worry about this?

  11. ZippyLemon says:

    I think I spent more time building my perfect Skyrim experience than playing Skyrim.

    Once I’d got all the mods installed and the physics issues ironed out, I found the dialogue to be suffocatingly bad for role playing anything other than “the guy from Memento”. Bleugh.

  12. fish99 says:

    I see a lot of people bitching about how the SE looks on the Steam forums, but honestly you could see in the trailers that the important stuff like models and textures hadn’t been touched, so it was never going to be more than a modest upgrade over un-modded vanilla, and it was still going to look like a 5 year old game.

  13. geldonyetich says:

    One of these days I plan to finish Skyrim. Skyrim: Special Edition is out. One of these days has arrived.

    I don’t care if it has lousy mod support. ALDUIN MUST DIE. I never did get around to finishing the main campaign so I’m doing that.

    I have no idea if this is significantly upgraded versus the original Skyrim. I hope so.

    I was kinda hoping this article would tell me something about that. Nay, tis but a glance in THE PAST at the unbearable darkness of NON-SPECIAL EDITION Skyrim. For shame! Besmirch my browser not with these excellent reads! I demand cutting edge glances into THE FUTURE of things even the writers have yet to play!

    Right. Time to cut down on the caffeine.

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