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Comparing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PS3 To Special Edition On PS4

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition has been out in the wild for a few days now, giving us a chance to experience its snowy fantasy world all over again – but how improved is the game?

One way to try and answer this question is to literally place two versions of the game side by side. We played through the first 25 minutes of the game on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, trying to sync them up to the best of our ability. The framerate is definitely improved, but as the video shows, the visuals were pretty dang good on the previous generation of consoles. There is definitely some improvement there, but it's maybe not as drastic as we hoped it might be.

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For more on Skyrim, head here to learn how to get married in it, and here for our review of the original release. To watch this video on YouTube, head here.

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YouTuber Pits 100 Dragons Against 1000 Imperial Archers In Epic Skyrim Battle

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition released this past week, and in celebration, YouTuber and modder Cosmic Contrarian has released an impressive video that pits 100 dragons against 1000 imperial archers in a fiery battle.

Dragons fly above while several archers shoot arrows upward and attempt to avoid their foes' scorching fire. You can check out the fight below. This isn't the first of Cosmic Contrarian's series of battle videos. For example, you can check out his previous Fallout 4 video that includes 30,000 automatron robots.

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You can read our in-depth feature about what to expect for the Skyrim Special Edition here. Since its release, players have noted some audio issues which Bethesda is addressing and attempting to fix.

[Source: YouTube]

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Bethesda Working To Resolve PC, Xbox One Skyrim: Special Edition Audio Issue

With the Skyrim: Special Edition out this week, fans of Bethesda's critically-acclaimed RPG have been able to enjoy the game's sweeping vistas at a higher resolution, since much of the game's look has been reworked for modern consoles. Unfortunately, the same can't currently be said for the game's audio.

Reddit user LasurArkinshade has found that the PC and Xbox one versions of the Special Edition feature drastically compressed audio, sounding more muddled than the game's original 2011 release. At first they though the more muddled sound may have been their ears betraying them, but after extracting the files from the remastered version of the game, they were able to confirm their fear. "The vanilla game has sound assets (other than music and voiceover) in uncompressed .wav format," they wrote in their post. "The Special Edition has the sound assets all in (very aggressively compressed) .xwm format, which is a compressed sound format designed for games. This isn't so bad, necessarily – it's possible to compress audio to .xwm without significant quality degradation unless you crank the compression way up to insane levels. What did Bethesda do? They cranked the compression way up to insane levels."

LasurArkinshade has gone as far as posting an audio comparison between the original and remastered versions of the game, which you can find here.

Meanwhile, the PlayStation 4 version features higher quality than that of any other version of the game, which lead LasurArkinshade to conclude that the lower quality on the other two versions of the Special Edition was in fact an oversight.

Shortly after the post was made, Bethesda responded, saying "We’re currently testing a fix and hope to have an update out next week.”

[Source: LasurArkinshade on Reddit via Kotaku]

Our Take
If, as LasurArkinshade assumes, the issue was a simple oversight of someone not inserting the right files in the right place, it's an interesting case of how QA might have its pitfalls. I would say that it should have been found by someone during testing, but unless you put the two samples side by side and gave me a good enough pair of headphones, I wouldn't have been able to tell you which version is better. But hey, at least this issue could be all patched up as early as next week. Which is good, because I probably won't have time to play Skyrim again until sometime next year.

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What was it like programming Skyrim?

Programming’s not always just about trying to keep the frame rate from chugging. As lead Skyrim systems programmer Brett Douville explains, it’s about relationships and self-care too. …


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Return to Skyrim with lead programmer Brett Douville today at 3PM EST

Gamasutra is jumping back into Skyrim this time with former Bethesda Studios lead programmer Brett Douville. Come join our stream today at 3PM EST and ask questions about the game! …


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What To Expect From Skyrim Special Edition And Mods, From An Expert

When Bethesda announced the current-gen special edition Skyrim, it lit a fire underneath me. After jealously looking at screencaps of mods for the PC version of the game for years, I was going to dive into that scene myself. My new gaming machine could handle it, so the only thing holding me back was my complete ignorance of how it all worked. Fortunately, I stumbled onto a fantastic resource: Dirty Weasel Media’s extensive step-by-step video tutorials covering how to do it all in exhaustive detail. Cal’s YouTube channel is loaded with helpful tips and overviews of some of the biggest mods around, as well as alternative choices for people who want to stray from the path a little bit.    

The release of the Skyrim Special Edition marks the end of an era for Skyrim modding, as well as the beginning of another. In addition to appearing on current-gen consoles for the first time, the PC version of the game has been reengineered for 64-bit versions of Windows. Both of those developments open up new possibilities for modders, but they also mean those developers are going to have to either retool or rebuild some of their creations to work in the new versions of the game. I spoke with Cal to get a sense of where modding is at on the new game, how things are shaping up on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and to get some recommended mods for players who don’t know where to start.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that some of the tools that people currently use to mod Skyrim won’t be available at the Special Edition’s launch. That’s not to say that mods won’t be available – you’ll have plenty of things to choose from on day one – but the transition won’t be seamless. Most notably, SKSE, the Skyrim Script Extender tool that many of the game’s more ambitious mods currently use, isn’t going to be ready at launch. 

“The team that does that is having to do a ton of work, and they’re starting from scratch,” Cal says. Contrary to what you may assume, Skyrim Special Edition isn’t running on the Fallout 4 engine. Instead, Cal says people he’s spoken with have said that it’s somewhere in between Skyrim and Fallout 4. Because of that, Cal says the team that works on SKSE is optimistic that we’ll be seeing it running soon in Special Edition. “You could see the really big mods, the ones that require SKSE, the ones that make Skyrim really great, coming out in a couple of months rather than six months down the road. We should have SKSE functionality hopefully by the end of the year, which is pretty amazing.”

That’s for PC, though. Things are a little different as far as consoles go. Neither the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 versions of the games will allow mods that use script extenders. “The SKSE will not ever be available, because it overrides the game itself,” Cal says. “It adds functions to the game, and that’s exactly what happens. When you create a mod, you’re telling the game to operate in a different way, or you’re adding something. What a script extender does is adds more functions to the game through scripts. Anything with a script that uses the Skyrim Script Extender can’t be used.”

On Xbox One (and on PC until SKSE is released), mod authors can create light versions of mods that normally rely on that kind of functionality. “Things like quest mods, armor mods, character companions, followers – a lot of them will work just out of the box, with minor changes,” Cal says. More complicated tweaks, such as mods that add additional dialogue or more complicated facial mods, however, likely do require scripts.

Things are far more restrictive on the PlayStation 4 version of the game, unfortunately. “Because of copyright issues, anything that adds assets – if you create a mesh or a texture, that’s a no,” Cal says. “If you write a new script, even if it doesn’t use a script extender, even if you write a scripted mod, that’s considered an extra asset. Even if you use the script engine, Papyrus, to do something different, that’s considered an external asset and you can’t use it. … If you are unfortunate enough to buy a PS4 thinking it’s your favorite platform before all of this came down with the restrictions, then I feel really sorry for you.” You may be able to download mods that remove encumbrance restrictions or add structures based on existing in-game models, but don’t expect major tweaks on PS4.

Shifting back to PC, the move to 64-bit architecture is a big leap forward, thanks in part to the way the game previously operated. Due to limitations with DirectX 9, the game had a hard limit on the amount of video RAM it could access – at just over three gigabytes, it’s a number that’s laughably small as far as contemporary hardware is concerned. That limitation throttled the modding experience in significant ways. “All those creatures, all those people, all those buildings, textures – all those things you add to the game suck more VRAM usage,” Cal says. “At some point, as you get closer to your VRAM limit, the game slows down. Eventually it will slow down to the point where it will crash the game because you have exceeded your VRAM usage, or you will get major stutters. By having a 64-bit structure with DX11, the shared VRAM doesn’t stop at 3.1 gigabytes anymore. So all the stuff you put in – all the particle effects that a mod like Vivid Weather throws in, all the lighting, suddenly the sky’s the limit because of that shared usage.”

I asked Cal to provide a few recommendations for mods that will be available at launch, for both the Xbox One and PC versions of the game. He came up with a short list of downloads that will fundamentally change the way that you play the game, such as giving you freedom for your game’s start and adding intense survival elements. If you’ve modded Skyrim before, you’ll probably recognize more than a few of these must-downloads.

Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch
Unofficial Patch Project Team
The popular Unofficial Skyrim Patch has been adapted to work on the Special Edition. It addresses a host of major and minor issues for the game, fixing quests, textures, and other annoying problems. The link is to the Legendary Edition’s version, but the patch notes will give you a sense of how comprehensive this download is.

Alternate Start – Live Another Life
Arthmoor
Tired of starting your journey on the execution cart? Why not choose your own origin? “It completely changes your perspective on the game,” Cal says. “You can start any way you want. That’s an amazing thing to be able to do.”

Campfire – Complete Camping System and Frostfall – Hypothermia Camping Survival
Both by Chesko
Campfire and Frostfall add survival elements to the game, including the ability to break camp. Players will also have to endure the elements, with damage accruing based on what you’re wearing, whether you’ve taken a dip in the water, and more.

Open Cities Skyrim
Arthmoor
Cal says this mod was notoriously buggy on the original version of Skyrim, but that it’s working on the Xbox One. That’s a testament to the advances to the game’s engine and VRAM usage. It removes loading when entering walled settlements, so when the gates open you can see the town inside.

Carry On Skyrim – Professor Benjamin Doon
Skinnytecboy
“If they’re looking for a follower mod, there’s a very funny one called Professor Benjamin Doon. It’s like Monty Python meets Skyrim – the guy’s just hilarious,” Cal says. As a bonus, he’s a change of pace if you’re tired of Lydia’s constant complaining.

Cal plans to keep making Skyrim-modding tutorial videos, even as the 2016 Guide to Modding Skyrim approaches obsolescence. He says he’ll have some videos getting Xbox One players up to speed, since players won’t have access to some of the load-order tools that PC players rely on to keep things running smoothly. He’s also working on a series of role-playing machinima videos. In the meantime, he’s looking forward to checking out the Special Edition and trying to figure out how everything all works. 

“It’s what I love. And with the Special Edition coming out, I’m also thinking, ‘I can just play it.’ I don’t have to roleplay, I don’t have to record myself talking – I can just play Skyrim, add some mods, enjoy the pretty, pretty pictures, and bash things over the head with a hammer.” 

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This Dubious Doctor’s Note Has You Covered For Skyrim Special Edition’s Release

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition comes out Friday, October 28, and after nearly five years since the original game was released, the temptation to immediately start a new Dragonborn marathon will be strong. That's going to be tough for everybody with weekday commitments, though. Fortunately, Bethesda Marketing VP Pete Hines has given this some consideration.

Please note that Game Informer has not been able to verify Dr. Born's board credentials, and does not endorse the recreational use of Nirnroot.

To see how Skyrim Special Edition overhauls the game's visuals, check out the trailer here.

[Source: Pete Hines on Twitter]

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See How Skyrim: Special Edition Improves Visuals In New Trailer

Bethesda’s latest video showcases the transformation possible from last-gen tech to current-gen visuals for the impending re-release. 

An awful lot of players explored Skyrim when the game originally released back in 2011. As such, Bethesda needs to make a strong case for why it might be worth returning to the world of the Elder Scrolls for the new special edition. That seems to be the goal of the newest video showcasing the game. 

The new video should feel familiar to any player who once wandered the lonely and snowcapped trails of Skyrim, but the added layer of lighting fidelity, texture detail, and other polish can’t help but impress, especially when accompanied by Jeremy Soule’s stirring and memorable theme. 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition is headed toward launch on October 28 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The new version of the game includes all the game’s add-ons,  plus all the new technical improvements on display in this new trailer. 

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Bethesda shelves Fallout 4 and Skyrim mod support on PS4, blames Sony

Bethesda’s ongoing discussions with Sony regarding PS4 mod support for Fallout 4 and Skyrim have stalled, casting the future of the initiative in doubt.  …


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Skyrim Total Converstion Mod ‘Enderal’ Now Available In English

Enderal, a total conversion mod for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, has been available for a few weeks now, but only in German. Yesterday SureAI, creator of the mod, released a trailer announcing it is now available in English.

The mod, which SureAI anticipates will take most players anywhere from 30 to 100 hours to complete, features an entirely new area with a variety of landscapes, an original plotline with "psychological and philosophical undercurrents," and fully-voiced German and English dialogue. It also includes reworked survival and skill systems, along with harder combat and new special abilities.

You can watch a new trailer for the mod's English launch below. You can download the mod here.

[Source: SureAI via neoGAF]

 

Our Take
The size and scope of the Skyrim modding scene continues to confound and impress me. These mods have extended the life of the game far past its natural expiration date, and seeing teams this passionate about creating content for the game is always inspiring. 

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