Skyrim: Special Edition Is Too Janky

Skyrim: Special Edition Is Too Janky

Skyrim: Special Edition is a buggy mess on consoles. In just a few hours playing on Xbox One, I encountered NPCs floating above chairs, twitchy mammoths, seconds-long pauses in animation, echoing dialogue and other glitches that are unforgivable for a game that came out in 2011 and, in 2016, costs $80 on console.

That price tag is likely a combination of Special Edition’s DLC pack-ins and mod support, as well as “remastered art and effects”, “dynamic depth of field” and, thankfully, “volumetric god rays”. Despite these improvements, many other players on Xbox One have reported freezing, bad frame rates, stuck NPCs, vanishing weapons and semi-frequent crashes, all without added mods in the game. Actually, the most popular mod for Skyrim Special Edition is a comprehensive and unofficial patch mod for consoles.

To give you a sense of the jankiness, I spent 17 minutes and 20 seconds capturing footage of Skyrim: Special Edition on Xbox this morning for this article. I expected to need more time. It was not necessary.

Skyrim Special Edition

Skyrim Special Edition

Here, I was riding a horse over some rocks. My horse slowly tilted downward and face-planted – literally – inside a boulder.

Skyrim Special Edition

Skyrim Special Edition

Here, the draw distance is very sad. Not-too-far-off landscape appears clumsily, bit by bit, in many of Skyrim: Special Edition’s zones.

Skyrim Special Edition

Skyrim Special Edition

I soon encountered a mammoth, encountering a rock, encountering some turbulence. Fasten your seatbelt.

Skyrim Special Edition

Skyrim Special Edition

And then, I thought, why not use some destruction magic on that mammoth? I did not think it would hide inside the ground.

Skyrim Special Edition

Skyrim Special Edition

What is even happening.

Skyrim Special Edition

Here, the mammoth is still stuck inside a rock, but also, look at those awful 2D-ish plant textures. Look at them!

Skyrim Special Edition

Skyrim Special Edition

Later, I found my horse again. We shared a brief and wild ride, during which I was thrown onto the ground. That pause in the animation is from the game, and not my gif-making software. It’s the same for the mid-air camera shift.

Skyrim Special Edition

Skyrim Special Edition

Ah, yes, that time a crab materialised from the Earth, with little resistance from the ground. Camouflage or remastered physics?

Kotaku‘s Heather Alexandra played on PlayStation 4 for a span of two hours last evening and encountered numerous glitches and one crash. She told me, “The most noticeable glitches centred around animations. An attempt to maul someone as a werewolf lead to a particularly egregious animation delay that I initially thought was a soft lock.”

Skyrim Special Edition

Skyrim Special Edition

Heather also noticed that “updated lighting and particle effects rest side by side with low resolution textures and a poor draw distance. At one point, my character went partially bald. These small flaws added up over time. The game world itself lacks the polish seen in the game’s trailer,” she said.

Skyrim Special Edition

Skyrim Special Edition

An example of the sorts of funky textures Heather noticed while playing:

Skyrim Special Edition

Skyrim Special Edition

Bethesda’s policy, announced late October, is to not furnish media with advanced review copies until a day before the game’s release, a decision that inevitably delays reports on Skyrim’s stability. Veteran Skyrim players probably expected some jankiness going in, given that the original game is also infamous for bugs, but even so, these disruptive glitches should be unacceptable in 2016.

Skyrim: Special Edition does offer a lot of new content: Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn, as well as thousands upon thousands of mods that justify playing through it again, or for the first time, if you missed it originally. That being said, the popularity of the unofficial patch mod, which aims to fix many of Bethesda’s blunders, is telling. Players aren’t rushing to make Skyrim sexier, or to add wild nonsense mods: They want a game that runs decently.


  • Didn’t Bethesda sort of pre-empt this by refusing to send out review copies?

    The pre-review talk about Fallout 4 from every quarter was ‘this shit ain’t funny no more’ but the actual reviews didn’t really include any mention of bugs and technical issues actually contributing to a lower score or negative opinion.


    ‘Makes it interesting’

    ‘These games are hard to make’

    That was enough reason for Bethesda to pull this crap apparently. They seem quite butt-hurt but Skyrim Remastered’s already looked after by the Youtuber crowd.

    ‘The modders will fix it’ mentality is also arse-backward thinking. It’s a crying shame that’s been allowed to happen on the console versions now.

  • Wife has just over 10 hours on Xbone with no issues at all. Me about 8 hours on PC with 1 crash, thats it.

    • This has generally been my experience with Bethesda games. They’re unacceptably glitchy, but it always seems that the problems of “internet people” are always much worse than my own.

    • Yeah, I’m in the same boat – I never get to see any of this interesting shit. My GF’s been playing on the PS4, which I’ve been watching while playing on the nearby PC. For the last week, neither of us have had anything even remotely interesting bug out.

      I had some godawful flickering geometry looking at Whiterun from a distance, but it’s entirely possible that’s the fault of the fucktonne of mods I’ve installed.

    • Sadly.. not for me. Ive had feamerate issues which caused a game restart. Ive had floating people and items. Watched NPCs have numerous pathing issues which resulted in an epic battle turning into me just hitting them with magic and arrows.

      Ive had no crashes etc but the Bethesda bugs are 100% real deal. Fallout 3 and Skyrim had issues for me on PC. Fallout 4 for the most part was good, apart from a couple of crashes.

    • ive put 220 hours into the original skyrim on PC, only mods installed are high res textures I believe. though I did do the config hack to increase the number of cells loading to increase draw distance significantly.
      honestly in my 220 hours I cannot recall a single crash. ive had a lot of issues with my pc pushing 150+fps and the game havng a spastic fit as a result (constant entering and exiting water sound and stuttering), but NVidia inspector based frame cap fixed that… the new SE is capped at 60fps by default, so no such issue. only 2 hours deep so far but no problems to report.

  • I’m really on the fence about Bethesda right now.

    Skyrim and Fallout 3 were two of the best games of the last generation. Oblivion was great too.

    Fallout 4 was pretty shitty though, the story was bad, the graphics were bad, the animations were bad, the menus were terrible. I finished it but I have no urge to go back even to tie-off the side missions.
    The new review policy is disgraceful and should be an embarrassment to the teams working on these games.
    Now Skyrim has been updated and it’s really just a v1.5 graphical upgrade that doesn’t seem to fix many of the games many problems.

    You can make excuses for them and say these games are big, but Fallout 4 was actually really limited in terms of story and RPG options, and this is the same game they released YEARS ago. It’s not as acceptable in a world where games like The Witcher 3 manage to be significantly more detailed, larger, more varied and importantly less glitch.

    • I’m not even on the fence about them anymore.

      Loved Oblivion. Didn’t mind Fallout 3. But I think everything else since then has been unacceptably buggy and it has really surprised me how little criticism they get for it and how much they’re loved.

      I’m not a customer of theirs anymore. I need something more finished. Something crafted. Something that feels like quality. Like the Witcher 3.

  • that’s weird because I’m 60+ hours in on Xbox One and I haven’t noticed anything that bad at all,

    Only gripe is the detail / view distance is somewhat terrible in the Tundra regions of Whiterun Hold?

    keen to give it a run on my PC copy see how it goes, otherwise yeah I don’t know what people were expecting, it’s literally only $58 at Big W…

  • Skyrim has been janky since day one, all they did with this remaster was give it a new paint job. It’s still the same old glorious janky mess we all love.

  • I’m 8 hours in on PC and apart from a couple of NPCs sitting in mid air next to their chairs, I’ve had no issues. Much better performance and appearance than the base game.

  • Everyone who bought it Bethesda is sitting there running there grubby hands together. It was a blatant cash grab and you all fell for it.

    • If by fell for it you mean having a blast playing it again when it is now soo much more stable? Then yes.
      If by fell for it you mean got it for free on pc due to having all the expansions? Then yes, dangit..
      If by fell for it you mean purchased it on Xbox for the wife so she can sit in front of the huge TV and have access to mods? Then yes, man what the hell?
      Money very well spent.

      • Yeah, I’m loving it. There’s very few games I’ll double, and even triple dip on. Any Elder Scrolls game though, I will. I got the upgrade for free on the PC, but I also picked it up on Xbox One, which is the version I’m playing at the moment.

        I’m having an absolute blast playing through it again, I’m already 30 hours in, so I’ve gotten my money’s worth.

  • The people at the white run stable just fell down dead for no reason

    the Redguard bounty hunters were kicking themselves out of white run cause their defiantly was no guard doing it

    I also jumped through the ground once.

    21 hours and only three “oddities” fairly good for a elder scroll game right?? I also finally finished my house I was building…………those sabre cat teeth took forever to find, I think I may have hunted them into extinction.

  • Gif-making software? I’m guessing these are supposed to be animated then, but they’re not on my screen. Anyone else?

  • Despite Skyrim using the Creation engine, it has all the hallmarks of the Gamebryo engine, just without the abysmal performance… which makes sense given Creation is based on Gamebryo. The entire thing should be scrapped.

  • I’m getting a more consistent framerate streaming to my Vita than I am playing on PS4. I do not know why.

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