Surely everyone who has at least a faint interest in role-playing games has played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim at this point. But for those who have somehow managed to avoid being sucked into its world so far, this Anniversary Edition should be considered a must-have.
Originally released on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC in 2011, then enhanced and re-released on PS4, Xbox 360 and PC in 2016, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is famous for not only being a great game, but also for being ported and sold to players whenever the opportunity arises, with Switch, PSVR and Windows VR versions also being made available since. Despite the Special Edition of the game already being playable on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S thanks to backwards compatibility, The Elder Scrolls Skyrim: Anniversary Edition marks not only the tenth birthday of the game, but also its native arrival on those consoles.
We’ve spent considerable time with the PS5 version of The Elder Scrolls V: Anniversary Edition, and while we have mixed feelings, there’s no doubt that it takes what is still an utterly engrossing experience and makes it even better than ever before. Visually, there’s nothing here that makes this version actually look nicer. We switched back and forth between the PS4 and PS5 versions on a PS5 console and couldn’t spot any discernible differences. If you last played the game on anything older than a standard PS4 or Xbox One, however, then you are going to appreciate the 4K visuals and 60 FPS presentation. Skyrim is starting to look a little dated in some areas now, but it does clean up pretty nicely.
There are a couple of areas where The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim does make use effective use of the power of PS5, though. One is loading times. Moving between the open world, dungeons and houses is now done in an instant, meaning you get to spend more time exploring and looting rather than twiddling your thumbs or reaching for your phone. For those conscious about storage space, it’s also pretty amazing that the PS5 version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is less than a third of the size of its PS4 counterpart; it’s just 15GB as opposed to 50GB.
The real draw of The Elder Scrolls V: Anniversary Edition, though, is that it comes with all Creation Club content released to date. For those not in the know, the Creation Club is a collection of additional content created by the community that has been officially sanctioned by Bethesda. All in all, there are over 70 Creation Club packages included, introducing a wide range of new items, quests and features to the game. And aside from a select few, you have control over which ones are active.
While much of the Creation Club content is pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, such as alternative armour skins or weapons to be obtained by completing new quests, some of them have quite an impact on how The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition plays. Fishing is one such creation, allowing you to pick up your rod and engage in a simple recreation of the much-loved sport. Another creation lets you own a farm; well, once you’ve dealt with the ghosts that plague it first.
There’s one creation, however, that has a very drastic effect on how you play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition: Survival Mode. This ultra-hard mode turns Skyrim into a true test of survival. As well as challenging you to maintain being well-fed, well-rested and warm, you’ll also find that survival mode disables fast travel. And that’s not all: your carrying limit is also reduced, and you can only level via sleeping. Not everyone will get on with it, but those wanting to delve into Skyrim again might find that it makes things feel fresh.
Aimed at those who are yet to experience The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the first time, this Anniversary Edition offers exceptional value for money, and is easily the best way to jump into one of the best role-playing games ever made. It may not quite look current-gen, but the fast loading times and reduced storage footprint are both meaningful gains for PS5 players, while the included Creation Club content adds yet more meat to the game’s bones which are already heaped with flesh. For those that have already played Skyrim to exhaustion, however, there’s not much here to draw them back. Though being able to upgrade from the Special Edition for just £15.99/$19.99 makes it very enticing.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition Review – GameSpew’s Score