The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Aniversary Edition Review: Because when doesn’t a fishing mini-game make things better?
I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with some kind of clever, eye-catching way to begin my review of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Eiditon. I really have—but I don’t think that I can. It’s not necessarily because I don’t have confidence in myself as a writer/reviewer, but, rather, that almost everything that can be said about Skyrim has already been said. There really isn’t much new ground that I, as a reviewer, can break on this game—I can only really add bits and pieces here and there. Fortunately, however, it appears that Skyrim Anniversary Edition has taken exactly the same approach.
I’m sure that you’re well-aware, but The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition isn’t a new game, nor is it even a re-release of a game; it’s a re-release of a re-release of a game—a final “cherry on top” for the game that’s risen more times than the dragons that its story revolves around have. Some people love that it’s been around for so long, while other people hate it—and I can see both sides of the argument. However, there’s a reason why it’s been around for so long; it was, and still is, a really, really good game—and it’s been made even better by all of the extra goodies thrown in this time around!
Considering the fact that it takes a significant chunk of a wiki to explain the story of Skyrim in its entirety, I’m not even going to pretend that I have the capacity to explain everything in this review. Plus, like, the game’s 10 years old—chances are pretty good that you’ve already heard tales of the mighty Dragonborn and their epic journey which leads them across the land of Skyrim as they save its people from a scourge of dragons—creatures which were thought to have gone extinct long, long ago (or perhaps not to have even existed at all).
If you’re familiar with Skyrim‘s story and enjoy it, then I have some good news—nothing’s really changed. And, if you’ve never played Skyrim before and fancy yourself a purveyor of lore-heavy games with plenty of thought put into each and every concept, then I have good news for you as well—Skyrim is exactly that. Skyrim Anniversary Edition may not have added much to the game’s story, but what’s been there for a decade is still good enough that it warrants combing through—even if you’ve already been through most of it before.
Skyrim may already have enough content to keep players busy for hundreds upon hundreds of hours, but, if you’re like me, you might always find yourself wishing that there was even more that you could do in the game when everything’s been said and done. Fortunately, Skyrim Anniversary Edition gladly lends a helping hand on that front. Among all of the new pieces of content released within this version, nothing is quite as noticeable as the generous number of quests that have been added. While certain major quests like Saints and Seducers and Ghosts of the Tribunal stand out the most, they’re not the only thing that the Anniversary Edition has to offer.
There are a surprising number of small quests that you’ll ultimately find yourself walking into as you journey throughout Skyrim (I personally recommend heading to Riften and completing the Grey Cowl quest ASAP if you’re playing a thief), all of which help to give you even more bang for your buck. Admittedly, not all of these are new—a good number of these quests are a handful of years old, in fact—but I feel like the Creation Club came into existence so late that a lot of players entirely missed it, meaning that it can still provide a bevy of new and fun experiences for players to enjoy.
Fighting for Your Life
Thanks to the inclusion of plenty of content from the Creator’s Club, Skyrim Anniversary Edition has plenty of additional things for even the most seasoned of players to enjoy. However, when it comes to sheer difficulty, none of the new content can quite match up to what Survival Mode has going on. While technically not “new” in every sense, the inclusion of Survival Mode in the Anniversary Edition will nevertheless mark a first-time encounter for many players—and, boy, what an encounter it is.
Survival Mode is exactly what it sounds like—a continuous fight for your life. While vanilla Skyrim can pose plenty of challenges in and of itself, Survival Mode takes things to a new, and brutally difficult, level. On top of traditional things like HP and stamina, players masochistic enough to dive into Survival Mode will also have to contend with fearsome foes such as Mother Nature (get too cold and you die) and basic human biology (hunger and weariness lead to death) while in the midst of their journey of fame and fortune. On top of this, carry weight has been tampered with to lessen the player’s ability to become a superhuman pack mule (which literally everyone has been guilty of becoming at some point or another) and even takes away the ability to fast-travel—making the fight to stay alive even that much more of a struggle. It’s not easy, and, in all likelihood, not always fun. However, if you love Skyrim and want it to be as uniquely challenging as possible, Survival Mode is a great way of doing just that.
Teach a Dragonborn to Fish…
Another major addition to Skyrim Anniversary Edition (and one that’s much less lethal than Survival Mode) is… wait for it… the ability to fish! Now, I know that this might not sound like all that much to some of you, but it’s honestly really cool. …At least I think so. All across Skyrim, players will now be able to find buckets of bait which, upon interaction, will allow them to begin fishing (so long as they have a fishing rod). Fishing itself is easy—wait for a bite, and then mash a button to reel your fish in. It’s simple, relaxing, and fun.
But that’s not all that the fishing mechanic has in store for players! While aimlessly wandering around and catching fish is all well and good, Skyrim Anniversary Edition goes the extra mile to include a bundle of fishing-exclusive quests that will have players casting their line out in a number of different locales in order to reel in specialty catches. Much like the fishing mechanic itself, it’s not anything particularly in-depth, but its simplicity and enjoyability are high enough that it had me wondering why they didn’t just include it in the base game.
A Happy Anniversary, Indeed
Much like a real anniversary, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition is less about embarking on something new and more about happily re-living some wonderful, past moments. It was a great game then, and, even 10 years later, it’s still a great game—made even better by the bundle of Creation Club DLCs thrown into the mix. Skyrim‘s been around for a long time, now, and, whether you like it or not, the Anniversary Edition shows that Skyrim has still got the ability to stick around for at least a little while longer (I’m sure we’ll get TESVI eventually, though!).
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC; Publisher: Bethesda Game Studios; Developer: Bethesda Softworks; Players: 1; Released: November 11, 2021; ESRB: M for Mature; MSRP: $49.99
Full disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher.