Is Skyrim Remastered Worth It? - VRGyani News and Media

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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Is Skyrim Remastered Worth It?

Few things are certain in life besides death, taxes, and Skyrim being remastered yet again. With the recent announcement of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition, Bethesda has once again seen fit to re-release the much-beloved RPG for the 7th time (including the original 2011 release). The remasters and re-releases of this singular title have been so prolific that they’ve become a running joke for much of the gaming community. But just like any good joke, there does come a point where it becomes less and less funny with each repetition. This begs the question, why does Bethesda see fit to keep releasing Skyrim over and over again?

There are few games that one could truly describe as ‘beloved’ to the gaming community as a whole, but Skyrim is indisputably one of them. Taking the world by storm after its 2011 release, it was difficult to turn anywhere online without bumping into a Skyrim reference, discussion, or even passing mention of how great it was. A massive open-world combined with an ingeniously approachable level of playability, in retrospect its success seems almost inevitable. Whether you were young or old, hardcore veteran or casual hobbyist, you could find something to love about Skyrim. Gaming is a much more disposable medium when compared to other entertainment media. Graphics and game mechanics that were revolutionary only 5-10 years ago often seem shoddy and underdeveloped when compared to modern titles. Combined with how quickly hardware progresses and is often left in the dust after only a few years, this ends up leaving many gamers with a warped sense of nostalgia. Adding to this nostalgia, console manufacturers have made increasingly large steps away from backward compatibility, meaning there’s no easy way to replay your favorite games without holding onto a growing pile of aging hardware and accessories. As soon as a console generation ends, gamers are left with a wishlist of potential remasters, hoping to relive their favorite experiences in a way that isn’t marred by their increased graphical standards.

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With all this in mind, is it any wonder that Skyrim is released so frequently? The market size alone of gamers who look back fondly on their time with Skyrim is enough to justify the decision. However, it has become increasingly difficult for Bethesda to justify each passing re-release and remaster. Each time a new edition of Skyrim is released, online message boards are continuously flooded with reports of crashes and sometimes game-breaking bugs, many of which have been around since the original 2011 release. Beyond a suite of new HD textures and a graphical coat of paint, the game hasn’t really evolved visually either. Getting to explore Skyrim in VR and having the ability to take it on the go with the Switch release are genuinely novel ways to experience the adventures the game has to offer. However, the experience is still fundamentally the same one we’ve been replaying over and over, with Bethesda making no serious attempts to evolve the game past its 2011 release. Even the Anniversary Edition won’t be a true next-gen port, with the Playstation 5 only receiving a backward-compatible Playstation 4 version of the game. And some may say ‘don’t fix what isn’t broken’ is a fine philosophy to have with a game as fondly remembered as Skyrim. But when Bethesda seems unwilling or unable to fix what is still broken from a technical standpoint after 10 years of remasters, this excuse falls a little flat. In many aspects, it can be argued that modders have done more to improve and evolve Skyrim than Bethesda. And the Anniversary Edition itself seems to be almost a tacit admission of this, with the major selling point being paid mods from their Creation Club being included as part of the total package.

But there’s another angle to this issue that must be addressed as well. As much as fans have been enjoying their time with Skyrim, there has been a question echoing across the internet that has only grown more pervasive as the years wear on: where is The Elder Scrolls VI? Previously, the time between Elder Scrolls titles was approximately 4 years between Morrowind and Oblivion, and 5 years between Oblivion and Skyrim. It has been 10 years since the release of the last Elder Scrolls game, with almost no tangible information regarding its announcement, much less a release date. Is Bethesda simply dragging its feet? Are the corporate heads unaware of how much demand there is for a new installment in the franchise? No, the answer to this question is much simpler than we may care to admit. At the end of the day, Bethesda is a business whose goal is to make as much money as possible. Why would they pour the extensive time and resources required to create an entirely new game, when they can just slap a facelift on a beloved title like Skyrim and reliably make millions of dollars for considerably less effort? It’s a question many game companies are asking themselves, as remasters and reboots are becoming more and more prolific with each passing month. Game companies will undoubtedly continue to create new games. The Elder Scrolls VI may seem a thousand years away, but it is still coming as far as we know because Bethesda knows there is a huge market waiting for it. However, until the market becomes truly oversaturated, remastering an old game is often a much safer financial decision for companies than creating fresh new experiences.

In no way do I wish to disparage remasters/re-releases as a whole. In a medium that moves as quickly as gaming does, remasters are a great way for older players to relive their cherished gaming memories as well as a great entry point for newer fans into old franchises. However, there comes a point where it seems less that a company is doing justice by their older titles, and more milking them for all that they’re worth. If buying The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition is what one chooses to do with their hard-earned money, who are we to judge? Skyrim is a damn good game after all, and it always has been. But if you’re one of those who are eagerly awaiting the next release in The Elder Scrolls franchise, it’s worth questioning whether or not the purchase is necessary. Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Switch, PC, VR. In the history of gaming, it has never been easier to have access to Skyrim’s vast open world. And with an extensive library of mods now available for both console and PC, there is no shortage of tools to craft the exact experience you’d like to have with it. As consumers, we have a much greater level of collective influence than many may realize. Companies base their decisions on what to develop largely on what has been proven to sell in the past. If Skyrim continues to make unfathomable amounts of money, it’s in Bethesda’s best interest as a company to keep releasing it. Voting with our wallets is one of the most impactful ways we can let companies know what types of games we want to see. And if consumers want to see more or less Skyrim, there’s only one surefire way to let Bethesda know.

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