Skyrim Is Getting A Survival Mode

Skyrim Is Getting A Survival Mode
To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, features and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Kotaku Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a news fix.

Because Skyrim’s dragons and dead guys were never quite tough enough, the game is now adding something more dangerous: weather and hunger.

They’re part of an update called Survival Mode, which is coming to Skyrim Special Edition on PC, Xbox One and PS4.

Whole parts of the map (below) have now been zoned to reflect the climate, with players needing to be careful in colder areas to avoid freezing to death. You can keep warm with armour and clothing, or by standing near a fire.

Your stomach is now part of the game too, with players needing to eat to stay alive. Don’t eat and you die, eat enough and you get a “well fed” bonus. Eat raw food and you can get sick, eat cooked meat and it will have you feeling great.

Other stuff it adds:

  • Fatigue will run your magicka meter down, and you’ll need to sleep in a bed to recover.
  • Fast travel has been disabled.
  • The amount you can carry has been drastically reduced.
  • Shrines aren’t free anymore, you need to pay gold to use them.

That last point leads us nicely into the fact that Survival Mode is part of Bethesda’s controversial Creation Club, and is being advertised as “free for one week”.

If you get it during those first seven days you can keep it for nothing. Anyone downloading it after that is going to have to pay.

There’s a beta available now for anyone playing on PC, while PS4 and Xbox One get it “early next month”.


      • Except it’s not.

        …Survival Mode is part of Bethesda’s controversial Creation Club, and is being advertised as “free for one week”.
        If you get it during those first seven days you can keep it for nothing. Anyone downloading it after that is going to have to pay.

      • I understand your points from other comments and appreciate your point of view but I guess my reaction is from a place where it seems as though Bethesda are profiting from the modding community’s hard work and passion. Maybe that’s just a knee-jerk reaction on my part.

  • Oh wow. See, reading through the article, I was thinking, “Oh, like Fallout 4’s survival mode? That’s cool! Won’t have the crutch of building settlements everywhere, but it sounds a lot less involved, too, re: disease and rads etc. Took them long enough!”

    Then I saw it’s a paid Creation Club addition.

    A case of something that was added for free in Fallout 4 only being done in Skyrim when they can charge for it.
    I wonder what other post-release patch features are now going to be fee-based?

    But no, detractors were all Chicken Little, right? The ‘splippery slope’ is a logical fallacy, right? EXCEPT WHEN IT’S NOT.

    • “What’s that you say? The latest update removed all but one decent weapon from the game and now its durability is critically low? Guess that’ll be $2.99 to use the blacksmith…”

      “Low on mana? Power up with this handy mana potion from only $1.99!”

      “Satisfy your hunger today with the brand new McMammoth! All the nutrition you need to get through the day for only $4.99. For a limited time it also comes with a free StaminaShake!”

    • Patch Notes:
      For regular users
      – Fixed a crash at the menu when clicking “New Game”
      – Removed high detail graphical options; get the new and improved HI-REZ PAK on the Creator Club now to re-enable!

      Creators Club Subscription Squad
      – Fixed v-sync famerate cap issues
      – Improved level of detail draw distance
      – Fixed incorrect NPC dialogue
      – Fixed 105 quest-related bugs
      – Fixed textures on Weapon X

      We might scoff, but these kinds of little bugs were fixed by community mod patches. Well, except framerate cap issues, thank you very fucking much Shitty Game Engine.

    • Skyrim’s well out of its development cycle, the last official content for it was almost 5 years ago; additional content for free is a nicety, but certainly shouldn’t be an expectation.

      • I think its more the shameless riffing of already freely available mods (and the content being put out feeling paltry) that has most up in arms.

  • I was getting excited until I got to the last section 🙁

    Aren’t there existing survival mods for this already though? Mods with similar systems/features? What happens to those? Will Bethesda’s lawyers suddenly go after them for “copyright infringement”?

    • The nature of mods working with other peoples’ IP means the owners of that IP are probably pretty well protected in that space, but it sure as fuck further exposes the absolute lie (that they CONTINUE to push) that they weren’t going to put mods on the creation club that already exist.

      • This isn’t someone else’s content they stole to put up, this is a mode they developed themselves for the Fallout series, that someone else copied to Skyrim as a mod. It’s their own work, extended a little to add temperature and shrine costs, brought from one of their games to another of their games.

        If at some point they rote copy someone else’s original work I’ll be right there with you condemning it, but this isn’t that.

        • Are you kidding? ‘Survival’ mods for Skyrim have been a thing since before Fallout 4 was a twinkle in Todd Howard’s eye. Exactly how many lines of code different are you willing to allow as a boundary before accepting that a mod has been essentially copied?

          Shakespeare had the right of it when he shat on equovication on a regular basis. They claim these aren’t ‘paid mods’… they’re just mods that you fucking pay for. They claim that they won’t allow existing mods to be retrofitted into Creation Club… they’ll just take the core, underlying concepts and redo them/make their own copy (eg new weapons/skins/survival mode/whatever). It’s deceptive bullshit, and it shouldn’t fly.

          “Technically, I didn’t sleep with your wife… we didn’t do any sleeping at all! We just had sex. So your complaints are unfounded! We didn’t do what you said you were worried about, at all!”

          • Hardcore mode was in Fallout: New Vegas before Skyrim even released, there’s really no contest which came first.

            We’re not talking about code, we’re talking about ideas. You say Bethesda ripped off a mod when that mod was just a copy of a mode Bethesda already had in a previous game. Apply that logic to another scenario: Beyond Earth has an affinity system in it, Civ 6 (which came out later) doesn’t. If a fan made an affinity mod to copy the mode from Beyond Earth to Civ 6, then Firaxis later introduced a DLC later with an affinity system in it, are you still going to claim the developer stole or copied from the mod rather than just using their own prior work?

            For paid mods, one of these two options applies: either Creation Club isn’t paid mods because they’re not mods, they’re DLC; or DLC and paid mods are the same thing and have been around for at least two decades, such that the majority of fans are perfectly fine with it. They’re mutually exclusive philosophies, it’s either one or the other.

            They haven’t retrofitted someone else’s mod into the Creation Club, they’ve added their own property from a previous game to another one of their games. It’s not deceptive, you’re using faulty reasoning to try to make it out to be something it isn’t.

          • When people expressed concerns about paying to ride the new roller-coaster, the primary complaint wasn’t fixating on whether the fee was paid at the gate to the park or on the ride itself. Now I don’t give a shit about whether Bethesda’s right to charge people to ride their shiny new copied roller-coaster or not, what I DO take exception to is them saying, “We’ve heard your complaints about paying to ride the new, official roller-coaster, so we’re not charging for that. We are, however, adding a price to enter the park that the new roller-coaster is in. Each ride doesn’t have an individual price… but the price you pay to get into the park will affect which/how many rides you can use.”

            There’s no philosophical difference, only a terminology/number-of-hoops-to-jump-through difference. They know full well what the complaint is, and they’re claiming they’re not doing that… while effectively doing that. It’s not a LIE thanks to terminology… but it is absolutely dishonest.

            Same goes for the copying of mods.

            Should Bethesda be able to copy concepts for mods and do them with their own spin/polish?
            Uh, if they’re going to do this at all, then yeah, I reckon probably. The best functionality available to the game is already in mods; limiting themselves to truly original ideas is going to cut out every quality-of-life change you can think of, because they’ve all already been done. But this is the corner they chose to paint themselves into, in response to outcry. Because it seems the folks complaining would actually prefer the Creation Club be limited to actual content, instead of QoL updates.

            Legit concern, poorly addressed/not addressed: “We won’t retrofit SKSE/SkyUI,” they effectively say. But like every other mod they’ve copied, they’ll feel free to do their own version that’s functionally identical,and change the tint of it just enough to be considered ‘original,’ achieving the same result that complaints were concerned about in the first place. Fragmentation/compatibility/dependency/double-development issues which would not be insurmountable to the free modding community, but would sure as hell hurt it enough to complain about it.

            And I can see you hate the stealth armor argument because you feel the IP-ownership argument is more valid (even if it doesn’t relate to that specific title, or even that franchise), but the Stealth Armor thing still reeks. It doesn’t matter that it started in FO3 as official content. What matters is that for FO4 specifically, it was content only available by way of a community mod. So they copied someone who copied what they did in a different game? It’s still a copy of that port. They didn’t do it themselves until someone else did. And it was popular. So now they’re doing it – because someone else did that work and proved profitability. Don’t tell me that’s not worth something, you know companies pay for that. If they were truly confident in the argument defenders helpfully make on their behalf (“We did it first, albeit in a different game,”) why’d they tint the textures to make it look significantly worse? The only reason I can think of for that particular aesthetic embarrassment is to try and qualify as being different enough. Oh, I forgot: Plus a ‘quest’!!!

            But you know, let’s scroll sideways a couple slots on the creation club from the stealth armor, and look at the backpack, or the chrome… There might be a different look to their backpack mod, but you know there were mods out there to not only add cosmetic backpacks, but to add carry-weight bonuses to them. And you know there’s been chrome power armour texture mods out there, since literally a few weeks after FO4 launch. That, if nothing else, should be the proof that they ABSOLUTELY copy existing mods, and will continue to… while claiming that they haven’t, because the RGB value on their texture is #DBE4EE instead of #DBE4EB.


            The reason I am so vehement in my disgust with Bethesda isn’t that they’re charging people to activate shinier, ludicrously-overpriced mods/DLC/whatchamacallits that are essentially off-tinted copies of existing, free, community mods. Everyone knew that’s what was going to happen when they dreamed this up. I’m disgusted by the fact that they’re doing exactly this… while trying to ignore any legitimate complaints people might have about this behaviour by trying to claim that they’re not engaging in this behaviour.

            They don’t have the conviction to argue that this is a morally-sound course. They want to ignore the actual core objections of people with complaints by pretending the complaints are about something that’s technically (but not philosophically) different. It’s dishonest, and it’s gutless.

          • The problem I have with the stealth armour argument is it’s arguing a technicality, not the spirit of their statement regarding existing mods. I don’t think it’s reasonable for people to say ‘sorry Bethesda, even though you made stealth armour first, Jimbob copied your stuff into the new game before you did so now you can’t because you promised not to copy existing mods’.

            At the end of the day it’s their idea, their content, their implementation. I’m perfectly fine with them introducing it into their other games even if a mod copying their own idea beat them to the punch and I don’t see it as a betrayal of the spirit of their statement. I think anyone arguing for the letter of the statement instead of its spirit in that case is being pedantic.

            Of course mods will give them ideas of what might be commercially viable and what won’t. So do other games. Developers have studied what works and what doesn’t from other content for as long as games have existed, there’s nothing ethically wrong with that. It’s silly to expect developers to operate in a closed box unaware of their surroundings.

            The spirit of Bethesda’s commitment is to create an environment for all platforms (even the ones that make it hard to support user content *cough*Sony*cough*) where creators can earn money for their work, but explicitly in a way that ensures the free modding community can continue as they have, unhindered. Nitpicking over backpacks and survival modes in that context is pedantic, Bethesda isn’t trying to say ‘we’ll never do anything a mod has ever done ever’, they’re trying to say that original ideas from the free modding scene are respected and protected. Unique stories, interesting plot twists, cool new weapon designs, those are the things Bethesda wants to assure people are safe. Backpacks, survival mode, different coloured Pipboys, none of those things are original, they’re just bringing an existing idea from A to B.

            Maybe it’s because I’ve worked in game development before, maybe there’s some other reason we have opposing views, but I don’t see dishonesty or manipulation here. I see a company trying to bring legitimacy and reward to good work from mod authors, trying to bring mods to platforms that have put significant obstacles in the way of doing so, and trying to reassure everyone that their support and respect for the free modding community remains firm. Yes, they stand to profit from it, it’s not done for purely altruistic reasons, but that’s how businesses work. Just because they benefit from it doesn’t mean it can’t be a good thing born of good intentions.

          • Just an addendum to this, there’s rumour that Chesko (author of the Frostfall mod) might be the one behind this survival mode implementation. It’s just rumour as far as I know, but if true it raises both a positive and negative connotation:

            – Positive: This would be a mod author building on his own prior work (the temperature element at the very least is important to Frostfall).
            – Negative: If it’s objectively too similar to Frostfall, it would raise the issue you mentioned of the ‘existing mod’ condition being loosely or inappropriately applied.

            I’m not familiar enough with Frostfall or the new survival mode to make that comparison right now, but I might check them both out later. It’ll be interesting to see how that rumour pans out, though.

        • Didn’t Skyrim already have survival mods long before Fallout 4 ever had it officially? Or am I thinking of mods only available to the standard edition which were never ported over due to a lack of SKSE64?

          The thought that they could potentially swoop in and make paid versions of mods yet to be ported over to because they “dont exist yet” for Skyrim SE is more than a little bit worrying… “Hey guys we realised you’re all wanting SkyUI which unfortunately isn’t available yet, so… we fixed the shit UI ourselves! Get it for $5!”

          • Fallout: New Vegas had hardcore mode in 2010, Skyrim released in 2011. The features are almost all the same: stimpaks and radaway work over time instead of instantly, ammunition has weight, the player needs to manage food, water and sleep.

          • If we’re talking about similar ideas implemented in their own way, that’s fine as long as Bethesda doesn’t cry foul if someone comes up with their own version of survival which turns out to be not only free, but better than Bethesda’s version. They don’t own the concept, but I’m doubtful they would just let it slide.

            I’m really just wondering what happens to well-established survival mods either:
            A) Already ported to Skyrim SE, or…
            B) Waiting for SKSE64 so they can be ported to Skyrim SE

            Will the mods in category A be left alone while the ones in category B get friendly letters from Bethesda’s lawyers? Will they go after both?

          • I don’t think they’ll have a problem with it. I don’t think Bethesda has ever had a problem with a free mod existing, I certainly can’t recall any occasion of that. Possibly ones that have copyrighted material from another brand in them, I remember reading a story about that a long time ago but I don’t remember if it was a Bethesda game or something else.

            If they take any action against existing survival mods, either for the normal or SE versions, I’ll be condemning them just as loudly (but maybe less fervently!) as Transientmind will.

    • I doubt it, they already existed.

      The one issue with those mods were that they were often not compatible with other mods.

  • You know, at first I was annoyed. I was annoyed because this mode should have been in the original game. I was looking forward to it after the Hardcore mode from New Vegas. I still enjoyed the game, I even avoided fast travel. I just wish it had a Hardcore mode.

    So then I was happy, I thought this might be the one thing to get me to buy the game again on PS4.

    Then I saw it’s not free and now I’m angry at Lying Todd meme again.

  • I was intrigued until I got to the end.
    Good job in making me interested in playing Skyrim again, and then immediately making me regret that feeling.

  • This is Frostfall in all but name. If the original author of that, Chesko, is behind this, maybe I can see that being okay. But if it is someone else, this is beyond the joke.

    My understanding was that the Creation Club was to ensure quality and provide opportunity for the kinds of mods that were unable to be made for free.

    This is just a circlejerk from Bethesda and a spit into the face of every consumer who once enjoyed their products.

  • Does class effect the climate scenario?

    I mean, I imagine lizard guy will freeze his tits off faster than the fuzzy cat guy.

    • I don’t think it does, but I think that’s a great idea to have racial bonuses and penalties for temperature. I wonder how well Khajiit would handle the cold though, Elsweyr is desert and badlands in the north, and rainforest and jungle in the south. Going from so hot to so cold might not rub them the right way.

      • Could just be me mis-remembering, but I believe a handful of the Khajit either outside Whiterun (or maybe Solitude?) do complain about the climate of Skyrim.

        • I have a vague recollection of the same, but it’s been a while now and I can’t remember. It might be time to give Skyrim another playthrough though, it’s a great game.

          • Well, I know I’ll be firing it back up as soon as the creation club’s patch comes out (which may have actually been yesterday? Saw a new patch hit the notifications screen last night). Gotta get that survival mode ‘first free week’ bullshit added to the account, after all. 😉

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!