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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition Review


I’m not sure who still needs to hear this but there is a game that’s been out for several years called Skyrim and it’s one of the best ever. In fact, it has just turned 10 years old, and what better way to celebrate than by releasing yet another new version of this timeless classic. Yes, the game that is available on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, PC, Nintendo Switch and even the Amazon Alexa is now also available on Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5. But it does come with lots of new goodies for those of us who have played it before on at least four of these devices.

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For those that have been living under a very large rock for the past, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the fifth entry in the mighty Elder Scrolls series. This time around, Skyrim puts a huge emphasis on removing the shackles a player is normally held back with; that means there are no character classes, invisible walls or enemy levels to contend with. Once you complete the opening mission you are completely free to leave your mark on Skyrim in the most open of open worlds.

One persona everyone in Skyrim will play as is that of the Dragonborn. After dragons have reappeared in Tamriel, you as the Dragonborn make yourself known by killing one of these dragons and absorbing its soul. Using your Dragon ‘shouts’ – that is, speaking the language of dragons to perform powerful attacks – the fate of Skyrim and Tamriel rests with you to rid the world of the most fearsome dragon, Alduin.

That’s the main plot of Skyrim but as any of the millions of players from the decade just past will tell you, it is one of the least memorable parts of the game. Instead, the beauty in Skyrim lies within the unique and personal moments you experience. You are free to build your character how you would like; be it proficient with bows, two-handed weapons, magic or a jack-of-all-trades. You can level up however you would like with enough skill trees to form a small forest.

And as many of those players will tell you, a first playthrough barely scratches the surface. Even after hundreds of hours wandering the snowy plains, you will still miss as much as you have played.

That’s where this new Anniversary Edition comes in handy. For new and returning players, there are a whole suite of new additions courtesy of the Creation Club to enjoy. Ranging from new weapons and gear, to multi-branching quest lines and completely new ways to play, these new add-ons completely reinvigorate Skyrim.

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Best of all, you don’t need the Anniversary Edition to get into the new stuff. Existing Special Edition ownershave access to several new features: Fishing, Survival Mode, Saints & Seducers questline, Rare Curios and a free next-gen upgrade to those eligible. And those that already have the Special Edition can upgrade to the Anniversary Edition for £15.99.

This next-gen update does all the stuff you would expect; improved graphics, loading times and more. Skyrim is starting to show its age graphically – it was never the prettiest game when it released – but the next-gen patch does breathe new life into the ageing game.

The Anniversary Edition contains everything that has been released under the Creation Club banner. These work slightly different to mods – which are still available – as these can be considered ‘official’ add-ons that won’t break your game should you install too many.

These don’t fundamentally change Skyrim either, but they do provide tons of new content. And if you are wondering, then yes, they include the infamous Horse Armour from Oblivion. It was a different time back then, okay?

You can pick and choose which Creation Club items you want to install into your save game, and you can do so at any point. You aren’t required to start a new game to enjoy the benefits here if you have a save game in progress. In fact, many quests will not unlock until you reach certain levels. Once you install them, expect to see the Courier once you load in an existing save.

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Not for everything though. Some quests or items require you to seek them out. The beauty of the Creation Club items is that they each have a brief description of where you can find them. This can only be accessed from the main menu however. If you want several new things you are better off making a note before loading in, if only to save having to return to the main menu each time. 

As someone that primarily plays stealth – at least before I am spotted – the Bow of Shadows for example was one new weapon I needed in my arsenal. Every time it is equipped it makes you invisible for 30 seconds. To obtain this I had to speak to Proventus Avenicci in Dragonsreach who gave me a short quest to complete. Many of the newly added weapons and armour follow much the same pattern; short quests to kill a person and loot the rewards. These quests are varied enough and short enough that I didn’t mind undertaking a few of them until I had a completely new outfit and some snazzy new weapons to take with me into the bigger portions of the Anniversary Edition.

Away from questing, killing the newly added zombies and goblins and improving my arsenal, there are new features added in that offer a much more relaxing Skyrim experience. As well as the aforementioned fishing given away for free, players in the Anniversary Edition can now also do a spot of farming. Just outside the city of Whiterun you can purchase your own plot of land and farm animals, grow crops and earn some coin. It’s surprisingly in-depth, and you can employ a steward if you’d rather make money without all the hard work.

The Anniversary Edition add-ons also include plenty of new items at the shops. It is always worth checking the descriptions of items to see if it needs to be sought out by you or can be quickly purchased from one of the vendors.

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One final piece of content I wanted to single out is Forgotten Seasons which is, quite frankly, almost worthy of the asking price of the Anniversary Edition Upgrade alone. This massive dungeon will take several hours to complete and comes with plenty of new loot. My advice would be to head into it with the bare minimum in your inventory; you will be heading out of there nearly over-encumbered with loot, mounts and more.

Forgotten Seasons also features some unique mechanics that even after hundreds of hours in various forms of Skyrim I haven’t experienced. The multi-quest dungeon will have you exploring areas based on the four seasons, whilst draped in Dwarven architecture. The Dwarven dungeons were some of my favourite places to explore, and Forgotten Seasons is now one of my favourite quests.

It’s hard to believe that Skyrim has been out for ten years now. A game I have nothing but fond memories of no matter which version I have played over those years has been given yet another lease of life with the Anniversary Edition. And these new additions only extend the enjoyment even further. Whether you are after new loot, spells, enemies, companions, quests or horse armour there is something here for you. Work has gone in to the Anniversary Edition to ensure it fits within Skyrim and the lore surrounding it as a whole; so much so, that if this is your first-time playing Skyrim, you won’t recognise what is base game and what is from the Creation Club content. They are all excellent additions that edge a near-perfect game even closer to perfection.

Return to a classic in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition on Xbox

Richard Dobson
Richard Dobson
Avid gamer since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Grew up with the PS1 and PS2 but changed allegiances in 2007 with the release of Halo 3.


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2 years ago

Awesome game and upgraded content. My only issue so far is that unless you’re playing the vanilla game none of the houses included in the upgrade support mods such as Hearthfire multiple adoptions rendering that content useless if you’ve already adopted the 6 orphans.

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