Skyrim: Special Edition versus PC mods – the great face off

By Brenna Hillier, Tuesday, 5 July 2016 04:42 GMT

Skyrim: Special Edition? More like Skyrim-and-a-bunch-of-mods amirite?

Skyrim: Special Edition is fantastic news for those who love the blockbuster RPG but are ready to chuck their older consoles in the back of the utility closet – but what about PC gamers? Do they really need a new version of Skyrim when player-made mods already provide many of the upgrades Bethesda has promsied?

Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry decided to take a look, stacking up a number of popular visual upgrade mods and then comparing the result side by side with footage of Skyrim: Special Edition. You can check it out above.

It’s not a perfect comparison because mod makers and Bethesda have different aesthetic ideas about how Skyrim should be upgraded; you’ll notice differences in plant life in particular, and Skyrim: Special Edition has a much warmer colour scheme than is usually found in mods. But as you’ll see, some visual features like depth of field work almost identically in Bethesda and fan builds.

The video asks whether mods can match Bethesda’s own work with Skyrim Special Edition, and the answer seems to be “probably, if you choose the right mods” – were it not for the fact that Skyrim: Special Edition upgrades from a 32 bit to a 64 bit executable. That means Bethesda has more memory to play around with, which in turn means fancier effects. Of course, when Skyrim: Special Edition releases in October, modders will then have access to that, too – and the great arms race can begin again.

For many PC players this whole debate is pretty meaningless; Skyrim: Special Edition is a free upgrade on PC providing you own all the add-ons. It will probably support existing saves and mods, too.

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