The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Mod Enderal Reviews and Impressions

Skyrim total conversion mod Enderal was impressive enough to attract some attention from the specialized press, sometimes in the form of simple write-ups and sometimes even in the form of reviews. We have put together a round-up of some of that recent coverage.


Story-wise, Enderal's tone is darker than that of Skyrim's and while its surrogate narrative offers upwards of 50 hours of mainline questing, it is perhaps a little less sophisticated in comparison to Bethesda's skilful weave. It can also be frustratingly linear at times - although it's always worth remembering the disparity in studio size (and the fact that for SureAI development on Enderal was a hobby rather than a living).

Certain quests are fantastic, offering divergent paths and multiple conclusions, yet others breakdown by simply wandering from the game's predetermined 'most straightforward' route. This is a real shame as there's an overarching sense that everything in Enderal's landscape is there for a reason, that it's been meticulously placed with equanimity, and therefore being punished for your desire to explore is an unfortunate byproduct of the game's limitations.


Healing is also less effective - in part due to the absence of level-scaling, but also because the majority of looted potions are "rancid" and are therefore barely helpful whatsoever - and your magic-induced fever only worsens by overindulging in the use of the arcane arts. Healing via spellcasting, then, is advised in sparing measure which is a really interesting and thoughtful twist on standard fantasy RPG genre mechanics.


A Skyrim remaster is on its way later this year, but SureAI's five year-long pet project has suitably satisfied my appetite for an Elder Scrolls-like sandbox adventure for the time being. Enderal isn't without its flaws, but it's easily one of the very best total conversion mods ever made.

PCGamesN lists three pros and cons over the original game:

Bethesda’s cack-handedness when faced with a word processor is often overstated, but at worst their writing can lack the nuance offered elsewhere in Skyrim’s systems.

SureAI reckon the story and characters of Enderal “both surpass those in recent Elder Scrolls games”. And if that strikes you as hubris, know they’ve weaved an intriguing backstory about just that: hubristic wizards who declared themselves gods, and who left a vacuum of power in which chaos blossomed.

With the exception of the occasional wonky adjective, the translation work is flawless - such that the slightly flowery prose can be enjoyed in itself. Earlier today I was sat on a bench at the base of a mountain with an old man whose best friend grew up to set a lot of people on fire. And I was riveted, even as a dog’s AI told it to run back and forth up the same path in my peripheral vision, over and over.


Over the years, the iterations and missteps, Bethesda have developed a singular expertise and toolset for modular level design. And they use it best, squeezing an extraordinary amount of variety out of a limited box of portcullises, rickety walkways and burning torches. Often their object placement tells little stories about doomed adventurers and ancient dwarven civilizations.

There’s not much of that going around in Enderal. There’s a history to its lore, told in books and by the people around you, but the brand of violent archaeology that makes each den of enemies unique remains particular to Bethesda.

PC Gamer awarded the mod a 74/100.

Even though it's crashed on me a bunch of times and some of its decisions are frustrating—I'm not enthusiastic about finding new merchants to buy skill books from and would happily have Skyrim's leveling back—the 50 hours or so I spent finishing the main quest and various bits of side stuff were plenty enjoyable, and there's still more left to do. The standard of writing is high, with dialogue that’s chatty and has none of the fusty formality that sometimes plagues translations. The voice-acting’s also far beyond what you expect from a fan project, aided by a couple of professionals like Dave Fennoy (Lee from The Walking Dead) making cameos.

What it's not is a stick to beat Bethesda with. If you're the kind of dissatisfied Elder Scrolls fan looking for an excuse to say “Here's what Skyrim should have been!” this isn't it. In fact, Enderal makes me appreciate Skyrim even more for reminding me of that initial burst of discoveries and letting me experience something like it again. Whether it's a couple of skeletons in strange poses, a collectible in a hard-to-reach spot, a gambler in the tavern, or a buried treasure marked with an X, I keep finding things that remind me I'm in a world that hasn't been catalogued in a wiki yet. Everything feels fresh and each time I crest the top of a hill there's something different on the far side.

And finally, Rock, Paper, Shotgun dedicated the RPG Scrollbars weekly installment to the mod:

Has it really been five years since Skyrim came out? Firing up Enderal, it’s surprisingly tough to tell. It’s the total conversion that players have been waiting for – a complete new RPG in the Skyrim engine, and the follow-up to the popular Oblivion mod Nehrim: At Fate’s Edge. Shamefully, I never got around to playing that one for myself, but this one? This one I’ve been looking forward to for a while. Some fifteen hours in, I’m nowhere near done, but I don’t mind saying it’s the perfect reason to both pull your adventuring boots on, and give Skyrim back its hard drive space.

One of the most interesting things about mods is that they can be seen through two lenses – how close they are to their core game, and how they differ. Enderal feels like Skyrim. It uses Skyrim’s menus, Skyrim’s combat, and while it uses a different metaphor (stones rather than constellations) it uses a lot of Skyrim’s raw systems. At the same time though, play it like Skyrim and you’re going to find yourself eating dirt within quite short order. Much of its DNA comes from games like Gothic and The Witcher, and most of the systems are changed up in some way.


Enderal doesn’t reinvent the Skyrim style genre of questing by any stretch, and if you’re not a fan of Bethesda’s original, this probably won’t change your mind. It does however take regular advantage of being able to do whatever it wants for the story it wants to tell, filling in where Skyrim stumbled, while still stamping its own world and identity on top. If you don’t mind its tendency to take the controls or insist on a specific approach particular quests, it’s one of the best additions to Skyrim so far. Certainly, it kicks the living snot out of the official DLC that Bethesda yawned out for Skyrim before moving on. Seriously, all that potential, and what did we get? Hearthfire. Bloody Hearthfire.