Skyrim: Anniversary Edition has brought the classic RPG to PCs and the newest generation of consoles from the developer and publisher Bethesda. Since this is far from the first release of Skyrim from the Xbox 360 to the Amazon Alexa, players largely already know what to expect from Skyrim and its three DLCs. However, the newest version also brings some content with it alongside some small visual and performance improvements.
But, what Skyrim: Anniversary Edition actually is can be a bit confusing as all owners of Skyrim: Special Edition have received a free update that changes it to the Anniversary Edition with the visual enhancements and four free content packs from the game’s Creation Club. The Creation Club was a feature that allows Bethesda to release smaller pieces of content developer either in-house or with the participation of members of the modding community that are then sold individually or in packs.
The Creation Club content makes up all of the new additions to the game, with the free content including a fishing mechanic, a survival mode, traveling Khajiit caravans with unique products, and a pretty lengthy questline-themed around Oblivion’s Shivering Isles expansion. For a free update, it is a pretty solid offering with the survival mode being a particular standout.
Survival modes have been featured in Bethesda’s Fallout series before, but its inclusion in Skyrim adds a nice immersive foil to the game that requires players to not use fast travel and keep on top of eating food, sleeping, and managing their temperature. The questline is also surprisingly lengthy with some great items for alchemy users and plenty of fun nods to Oblivion.
The weakest link of the four is by far the fishing mechanic that many fans were actually pretty excited about when it was announced. To put it simply, fishing is really lazy and boring. Rather than having any minigame at all players just walk up to a fishing area, casting, and then hit a button to reel in whatever just bit. That is all there is to it, with completing the associated quests or trying to fill one’s home aquarium being more of a test of patience than anything else. There is also only one fishing rod and no bobbers or bait that players can use to improve their experience at all, which feels very weird in a game like Skyrim.
For players who want everything in the Creation Club, there is a $20 upgrade for the Skyrim: Special Edition or there is a bundle with all of it together for $50. The upgrade expands the game quite a bit more and feels like the true Skyrim: Anniversary Edition experience. The content included in the upgrade is rather varied and includes a number of quests, alternative armor sets, camping and farming mechanics, necromancy, plenty of magic weapons, and even a handful of houses and pets.
With all of the content bundled together, it can have a pretty big effect on playing through the game, especially when doing so in survival mode. All combined it helps put Skyrim in a new perspective while playing them separately will likely feel like just more of the same, especially the packs that mostly offer utility items such as backpacks to increase carrying capacity.
For fans of older titles in the series, or who were never a big fan of Skyrim, to begin with, it will not be enough to change any opinions, but for fans of the game, the complete package easily justifies its asking price and has some exciting new content to check out even though some of them feel so lackluster that most players will likely try them once and then forget about them. These include packs like farming, wild horse taming, and especially the Nordic Jewelry.
As for the technical improvements, it will be hard to ever go back to older versions of the game after seeing the province in full HDR and at 60fps. The frame rate is also pretty solid throughout the game, even as in combat with multiple enemies and the screen flooding with particle effects.
But, it wouldn’t be Skyrim if there weren’t plenty of bugs and technical hiccups as well. The vast majority of bugs that fans are familiar with have not been touched at all while the Creation Club content adds some original ones into the fold as well. Over a playthrough, this included frequent crashing when entering a new player house, added items stuttering the game when they are equipped, and players clipping into their pets and getting stuck.
The technical issues do detract from the experience somewhat, especially when considering that many of the bugs are more than a decade old at this point, but they are not enough to keep Skyrim: Anniversary Edition from being the definitive way to experience the classic title. While many may not feel ready to revisit Skyrim yet, it is a great option for those who do or want to visit the province for the first time before The Elder Scrolls 6.
Skyrim: Anniversary Edition is available now on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
Skyrim: Anniversary Edition
- Rating - 7/107/10
The technical issues do detract from the experience somewhat, especially when considering that many of the bugs are more than a decade old at this point, but they are not enough to keep Skyrim: Anniversary Edition from being the definitive way to experience the classic title.