I used to play Skyrim, until I took an Anniversary Edition to the knee.
To commemorate 10 years of Skyrim, Bethesda have released the Skyrim Anniversary Edition, with a number of new features including upgrades and mods on consoles, new quests, and armour.
While it was released in late November 2021, I used my holidays to really dig into what’s new on the PS5 edition of the game. I’ve sunk a lot of hours into Skyrim through the years on PS3, PS4, and now, PS5. I am one of those tragic people who have purchased almost every edition and upgrade.
Why? Because it’s Skyrim. Only one of the greatest open-world RPGs ever made.
Now, chances are, if you played Skyrim on PC, you’re familiar with a lot of the content that’s been added to the console anniversary edition. But I want to run through it to make sure you know what you’re getting when you buy the anniversary edition.
New quest lines
The main reason I purchased the anniversary edition upgrade was for the new questlines. As much as I love getting the White Phial for Nurelion, I’d done it that so many times I couldn’t stand the crotchety alchemist any more. I’d platinumed the game last year, but still return to it time and again, and felt like I could do with some new quests.
There are several new quest lines, some of which are quite good. I particularly enjoyed solving the necromancer’s escape room which had some genuinely challenging puzzles. These quests often involve getting new homes, new weapons, or sweet sweet loot.
The main additional quest is called Saints and Seducers, and is given by one of the friendly Khajiit selling their wares outside Whiterun. Bandits are wreaking havoc on the travelling merchants, and it’s up to you to stop them. Of course, defeating these bandit camps is just the tip of the iceberg, which leads you to some nifty loot – including a Ring of Disrobing for anyone who’s wanted to run around Skyrim nekkid.
Unfortunately, as I tried to follow the quest until the end, I was unable to complete it. Trap doors with pressure plates wouldn’t open for me, locking me out of areas I needed to access. Similarly, in a number of the new quests, I ran into bugs which shut the game down or forced me to restart in a saved location. Which really defeats the purpose of an Anniversary Edition…
One of the more interesting gameplay changes is the integration of Survival Mode into the main game, which was born out of a mod. I think this is one of the best additions to the Anniversary Edition. With a level 50 archery thief, I’d been struggling to find a challenge in the game. Apart from putting the difficulty level up, survival mode massively increased the difficulty while bringing more logic and use to the elements in the game.
No longer are those nifty inn rooms going to waste or the potato soup going uneaten in your pockets. Everything takes on new meaning as the climate, fatigue level, and hunger affect your gameplay. This is one of the additions that really should be carried over to the new Elder Scrolls games.
I started a new game with a poor mage who had to make her way through the ice and snow to Winterhold. Needless to say, it was difficult, challenging, and bloody cold. Preparation was key to survival, as were getting warm clothes. She had to steal in order to survive, which made the narrative more meaningful.
Sick of your Skyrim family? Sure you are. Thankfully there are plenty more houses available with the anniversary edition – some better than others, mind you. Vampire mansions, necromantic towers, thieves’ dens, farms, and warrior halls. What is great about these new places is that many of them offer a place to house your collections from Skyrim’s lesser known quests – gathering the masks, paragons, dragon claws, and insects in jars. The warrior hall goes one better with slots for remarkable quest items and daedric artefacts. Except now I need to remember where I stashed them…
Exorcise a few ghosts and you’ll have your very own bonafide farm to sow leeks and potatoes. Farming is not something that’s ever appealed to me in Skyrim, although leading a peaceful life amidst the violence of Skyrim might be what some gamers want. You can hire a foreman for the farm to manage the land, although the glamorous selection of gronks you can hire might leave you wondering about their management skills.
Pets are another additional feature which left me a little cold. I mean, pets are way cute. But damn, those chittering spiders are noisy. I often play Skyrim as a loner stealth build for the peace and quiet, and hearing those little spider legs behind me in surround sound was unpleasant, especially in surround sound. There are a few cuter animals like a fox, goat and bunny rabbit, but I opted to send them to my fancy house where they could be quiet together.
Cue the Daryl Braithwaite. You can now ride a unicorn in Skyrim. All my three-wolf-moon t-shirt dreams have come true. Those hardy beasties are still able to climb any surface in a single leap. You can also pursue a quest to get a bunch of different horses, and armor your horse, but I’ve still ended up with the issue of mounting the wrong horse (read: stealing) and increasing my bounty in the hold. You can never win.
I’ve never been much of a game modder – when I was a kid hacking the original Sims to give me money, sure – but my pursuit of trophies often means that I can’t turn mods on. PC gamers would obviously have a different experience of this, because modding Skyrim has become so much a part of the Skyrim culture.
Yet in turning some of the mods on, I was left wondering why I’d want them? Cool, I can dress my character in Assassin’s Creed style robes. Or make the colours more vivid on a HDR screen, which I turned off in about two minutes.
It’s important to note the Creator Club and mods are two separate things – but both include new features for the games.
Importing saved games
One of the good things is that you can import your characters from previously saved games. For me, I’d platinumed the PS4 edition with a favourite character – Ferenor L’Shael. Loading her up meant that I could dig straight into some great quests, and try to finish some that I’d never done before. Unfortunately it didn’t drag my trophies with me, not registering that I’d already done all the key questlines. And yet, trophies turned up when I uncovered a new place or cleared a dungeon, because it triggered that I’d completed the trophy requirements.
Do we need MOAR SKYRIM?
I’ve been wondering whether it’s time for me to retire from Skyrim. I’ve been playing it for ten years, and lately it’s starting to feel like flogging a dead horse. But I still come back – just one more quest… one more quest…
Overall, do I think it’s worth the money? Eh, probably not. I was left with the feeling of that iconic Simpsons episode, where the tween doll Malibu Stacy is re-released – now with helmet! Yet in terms of scope, hardly anything comes close, except for that other Bethesda offering, Fallout 4. If you haven’t played Skyrim before, then throw your money at one of the greatest games of all time. If you’re an old friend of the Jarl, then you’re probably better off keeping your gold.