Bethesda has re-released its excellent role-playing adventure Skyrim. It's a massive game, with hundreds of hours of exploration, magic and mayhem.
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With a name like "Skyrim Special Edition", you'd expect everything to be better than it was in the original game or, at the very least, as good. Certainly not worse — if that's even possible. Well, it is for Bethesda, with the PC and Xbox One versions of the game having significantly crappier audio than their PS4 and previous generation counterparts.
It's not every day that you see a video game and a national screenwriting award in the same sentence. In fact, it's never happened — until last week, when the Australian Writers' Guild gave an AWGIE not just to Skyrim, but a Skyrim mod.
The mod is available today for the PC and Xbox One versions of Skyrim: Special Edition. But it wouldn't have been available if its Australian creator, Nick Pearce, hadn't been randomly punched in the face by a stranger.
When we showed off The Forgotten City last year, it looked almost good enough to be a release from Bethesda themselves. It's basically one big giant murder mystery set underground, complete with lateral thinking puzzles, an original soundtrack, multiple endings and interrogations.
It's an exceptional piece of work. And it's now a culturally recognised piece of work, after its Australian creator won a national screenwriting award.
Last month, Bethesda seemed to give up on the prospect of bringing mod support to the PS4 versions of Fallout 4 and Skyrim, saying that Sony just wasn't having it. Now, though, both companies have made some compromises.
Video: One of the most ambitious mods in Skyrim history, Enderal, is now out in English. It's really good! But it makes reference to A Certain Inescapable Meme, A Dragon From Our Collective Past, and there's only one thing that can be done about that.
Enderal is a Skyrim mod that's been in development for years. I've been playing for hours, and I feel like I've barely scratched the surface.
Way back in 2013, I wrote about a mod called Enderal, a very ambitious attempt at creating an all-new game out of Skyrim's bones, with a new map, new buildings, new characters, the works. Shockingly, considering the way most of these things usually go, it's actually finished!
The video that led me to Nick, known on YouTube as the ASMRnerd, was "Soft-Spoken ASMR: Elder Scrolls Maps." I have no idea how I found it — probably late at night in a semi-conscious YouTube trance. "Join me for a relaxing cartographic journey across Tamriel and its provinces," the description reads. "Triggers include paper sounds, pointing and tracing, and soft-spoken rambling."
Time flies. Skyrim has been out for nearly five years, giving its mod scene time to grow and change and then change again. It's a culture unto itself, one that's weathered identity crises and that whole money fiasco. So, all these years later, where does it stand?