The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition Performance Analysis

Digital Foundry has published a full performance analysis and face-off of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition, with plenty of footage and text for the more technically-minded to dive through. The final results are not at all surprising though:

All told, Skyrim Special Edition is a nice upgrade over the original game, with console owners finally getting a visually improved experience to match and occasionally exceed the base PC edition running at ultra setting. Indeed, both versions serve up a very good experience where the core gameplay and graphics are concerned. And while the 30fps limit may disappoint some fans, it's nice to finally play the game on consoles without large variances in performance impacted our enjoyment of the title.

However, it is worth pointing out that bugs and glitches remain - one of our run-throughs of the initial scripted intro required a restart when the dragon didn't smash through the castle, blocking progress. During a synchronised capture running the old PC and new PS4 titles simultaneously, we noticed the same clipping bug kick off on both systems suggesting that many of the issues afflicting the original release haven't been addressed, and have been ported to PS4 and Xbox One.

In terms of comparisons though, there's nothing meaningful to separate the two consoles - though PS4's audio is cleaner than both PC and Xbox One, which in turn are downgraded from the original title. However, in terms of playability the Xbox One version does have a clear edge in one area - mod support is considerably better. It's possible to have mods are large as 2GB installed on Xbox One, and these user-made creations can also use assets not found in the original game. On PS4, the maximum size is limited to 800MB, and mods can only use assets pulled directly from the game, significantly limited the scope and creativity on offer. As a result, those looking to explore the potential of using modded content are best served with the Xbox One game.

Of course, these issues aren't present on the PC, which features a vast modding community designing all kinds of interesting ways to expand upon the base game. Combined with the ability to play at 60fps and run at ultra-high resolutions, this version delivers the best overall package. That said, all three versions offer up a solid experience and provides a tangible visual upgrade over the original game worth checking for fans of the series.