Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Skyrim Remastered

(Reviewed on XOne)
  Skyrim was, of all time, one of my favorite games. The simplicity that comes when you use a skill and it levels up is simply magic. Never in an Elder Scrolls game could I be a mage who can give myself armor just as easily as I could be an archer who can make the deadliest of poisons. 

  In playing the remaster of Skyrim, I was able to push myself further, faster, knowing the basics of leveling skills without having to do the trial and error of the original release. This--with the exception of Blacksmithing and the fixing of the infamous dagger glitch- has lead to me moving through the game easier. It should be noted, as well, that I have started Skyrim numerous times with varying different types of characters, so using my Redguard and pushing him through the same paces that I have done a number of times is easy and just as fun as it has always been. In the places it is the same, Skyrim is still simply delightful.

  With a good remaster, change is the measure by which we should judge the product, and in Skyrim, every change feels as though it breathes life into a land that had plenty of life left in it. If you played any number of the large, AAA titles that have arrived since 2011, chances are you had to take time away from Skyrim to do so. In returning, things seem slightly different, but the differences are simple and near perfection. The god rays that have been added make Skyrim's different environments feel cold and dry when exploring by Whiterun, yet also alone and scary as you venture north, into the watery unknown. The easy shift in the feeling of the game is something that Bethesda has done well, historically, but with changes from clearer skies to cold, musty air, Skyrim feels more alive now than ever. 
Past visuals, the game steps away from the loading screens which, in later parts of the game, become painfully long. Thankfully, on the remaster, the game feels fresh and keeps moving, also solidifying the Quicksave on the pause screen, making the well-timed autosave system even better, as the player can simply save on the fly. Kinect, has been removed. Although this is neither a positive or negative, it is becoming disheartening to see companies support for Microsoft and their (frankly awkward) extra peripherals start to slide.
The biggest change, of course, is mod support. Before writing this, I was writing to a different member of the game industry about the impact that this change has. Bethesda allowing mods and pushing to get them to consoles (even though Sony has shown reluctance) is a shift in the industry that will hopefully be followed. The mods, in short, work exceptionally well. I have to keep the mod section short, as there are so many (over 1,900 for Xbox one at the time of writing this) and I simply have not tested them all or even a majority. However, of the mods I have tested, I am pleased to say that they improve and change the game in different, exciting ways. Personally, i have used mods that allow items to be melted back down to ores, Ars Metallica, frequently, while swapping out other magic and weapon mods seamlessly, thanks to Bethesda's smart interface building. Unfortunately, tuning on any mods stops achievements and trophies from being earned. It is fair, as the mods can make the game far too easy, but it does make it as though two separate playthroughs are needed, or, one playthrough and then mods simply for the endgame. 

In the end, Skyrim is Skyrim as it had been, but in the most subtle ways, Skyrim is able to be so much more. It has new life, new reason to visit if you loved the game or if you are an achievement hunter who wants to get all of that gamerscore and all of those trophies. Luckily for me, I am both, and my time in Skyrim, with and without mods, has only had the surface scratched.


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