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The remastered Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim looks amazing — and it will be free for certain players

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is a five-year-old game that’s still receiving new mods, original content, and feature tweaks courtesy of its huge player base. It’s not unusual to see articles detailing the best mods and graphics updates for the game still being published today, even though the game is practically doddering. Bethesda itself is apparently getting in on the action, with a full-scale overhaul of Skyrim’s graphics and what looks like a full DX11 update.

The company released the news as part of its E3 2016 unveil; details are in the video below. We’ve also extracted some of the before and after screenshots from both the Xbox and PlayStation versions of the game, in case you can’t watch the video or don’t care to do so. The first section of the video deals with new Fallout 4 mods; skip to 3:14 to see the Skyrim section.

Let’s start things off by comparing two different screenshots from the video. The first shot is from the PlayStation 3 version of the game as compared with the PS4 flavor. In both of the screenshots, the new version of the game is on the left, while the old variant is on the right.


Ambient detail and ground clutter have both improved a great deal — trees are more detailed, the lighting model is significantly different, and the grass looks more like what you might find growing in a field and less like a Chia Pet.

The next screen shot is from the Xbox 360 as compared with the Xbox One.


Again, foliage and lighting are much improved, but this screen shot gives us a good comparison of ground textures, not just generated ground cover. As you can see, there’s virtually no difference at all. The “remastered” version of Skyrim is using the same textures as the original game.

Eurogamer has confirmed this with an in-depth look at some of the assets Bethesda released to the press before its E3 show. Based on their analysis, the Skyrim Special Edition brings DirectX 11 capabilities to the game, with god ray support (aka crepuscular rays), dynamic depth of field, and new snow and water shaders. Textures, on the other hand, are still the same as ever.

On the one hand, this should make it comparatively easy for texture upgrades to serve as drop-in replacements for the previous variants, and the end result will be a game that’s even more gorgeous than the modded versions are now. Other mods will require some adjustment — the new lighting model for Skyrim is vastly different and apparently warmer than what we saw in the game’s initial release. I’m not sure how much thematic sense this makes, Skyrim’s relatively cold palette seemed well suited to the Nord realm.

One reason for keeping texture detail the same is that it probably helps the console versions of the game maintain a high frame rate. It looks like the game is running at 1080p on both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but Bethesda hasn’t commented on frame rate yet. With the console versions both supporting mods, Xbox and PlayStation gamers will get the chance to play with some of the options PC players have had for years; presumably through a similar system to what we’ve seen already with Fallout 4.

Finally, if you own Skyrim and all its DLC, you’ll get the revamped version for free come October 28. There’s no word yet on how this remastered version will affect the current efforts to port Morrowind or Oblivion to the Skyrim engine — in theory they should be able to adapt, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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