Skyrim: Special Edition is the gift that keeps on giving. Giving mods, that is.
Skyrim is great but it doesn’t open in spectacular fashion. Oh, I don’t mind the whole rounded-up-for-random-execution thing, and Alduin turning up right before the axe drops is rad, but there are some things about it that really, really bug me.
One of these is the way the Imperials are several seconds behind events – it feels like their dialogue during the dragon’s appearance ought to happen well in advance of its actual play time, making them sound ridiculous. Another is that you come face to face with Ulfric, one of the most important characters in Skyrim, and the game never acknowledges that ever again.
Skyrim Special Edition mod Opening Scene Overhaul SE by PublickGamer changes that. It makes a number of changes to the opening sequence, and even to the broader game, to make the opening less clumsy:
- The Thalmor have more of a presence, with Elenwen confronting Tullius.
- The Captain doesn’t say ‘sentries, what do you see’ when the dragon is literally in front of her. This and the other ‘dragon spotting’ dialogue plays earlier, so it’s more realistic.
- Extends and restores the scene with Haming and Torolf – it’s now a more emotional affair instead of a rushed side plot, with more dialogue from Hadvar, Haming, Torolf and Gunnar.
- The ability to escape with Ulfric, fully voiced! Ulfric and Ralof will talk to each other and to you.
- More dialogue for the dragon attack, citizens now scream and panic realistically
- Elenwen & Tullius argument fixed – more dialogue
- Ralof now comments on Elenwen & Tullius’ argument
- Ulfric and Ralof have a conversation in the tower by the Helgen Homestead. Ulfric is happy to see Ralof alive and Ralof explains you’re a prisoner the Empire tried to kill.
- Ralof comments on the Stormcloak soldier that Alduin kills in the tower and calls him by his previously unknown name, ‘Vilfrid’.
- If you escape with Ulfric, he will remember you, unlike in the base game.
Impressively, the mod also adds all new voice acting for all of the notoriously unsympathetic Hadvar’s dialogue throughout the whole game.
I personally like how the last few Elder Scrolls games have cast you a prisoner. I know some of you feel that detracts from the role-playing experience, but I think especially in Skyrim it sets up some important story concepts, including the hardline and potentially unjust nature of Imperial authority. So I like the idea of this mod more than the usual alternate start set ups.