Bethesda released Skyrim on 11/11/11, nearly five years ago. There’s an incredibly active and creative modding community that’s kept the game popular on the PC, thanks to their efforts. Until now, though, mods have only been available to PC players.
But with the introduction of Fallout 4, Bethesda brought mods to consoles for the first time. Xbox One players have been enjoying them since the end of May. And they’ve proven to be hugely popular. By one account, five times as popular as Bethesda had expected.
Mod support for Fallout 4 on the Playstation 4 has yet to arrive, notoriously missing several promised due dates. There’s currently no announced date, but Bethesda is reportedly still working out the bugs with Sony. They'd be foolhardy to admit failure and risk the wrath of gamers.
Now Skyrim is being remastered for current consoles, including mod support. It’ll be known as Skyrim Special Edition and include all the DLC from the original game. Naturally, it’s been given a serious visual makeover, as can be seen in the E3 trailer below.
But it’s the mod support that’s key. Nexus Mods, the leading site for Skyrim PC mods, currently has 1546 pages of mods available, with 30 mods per page. That’s over 46,000 mods. Are all of them high quality, life-changing experiences? Certainly not, but it does demonstrate the size and strength of the PC modding community. The top mod, which restructures and rearranges the game’s menus, has over 12 million downloads.
By comparison, Fallout 4 has been out less than a year and PC modders have already cranked out over 13,000 mods. Mods allowed to run on the Xbox One (and eventually the PS4) are naturally more limited in nature, due to the console’s specs, manufacturer restrictions, and Bethesda’s enforced policies (i.e. no nudity). But there are still over 7,300 mods to pick from. That’s a lot of variety to add to your existing game.
Now Skyrim Special Edition arrives, bringing mod support with it. Some of us would gladly buy it again, just to re-experience the world of Skyrim in glorious high resolution, but the prospect of having some of those 46,000 mods available to us? Five years of collected hard work by PC modders, a percentage of which would be available on our consoles – that’s huge.
This re-release also has great sales potential for Bethesda. Skyrim has not been included in the Xbox One backwards compatibility program. The PS4 has no similar program. That means there’s an entire generation of consoles – likely in excess of 60 million units – that haven’t run Skyrim. Players whose first console purchase was from the current generation represent an enormous pile of potential customers.
Skyrim is widely regarded as one of the all-time great games – the Xbox 360 version has an enviable Metacritic score of 96. It’s number 5 on the “All-Time Best” list at GameRankings.com. As for me, I tallied up my various saved games and found I’d played almost exactly 600 hours. That’s 25 full days of my life spent playing Skyrim. And all on the Xbox 360, with no mod support whatsoever.
Skyrim Special Edition, with all the downloadable content included, impressive new graphics, and mod support? That appeals even to seasoned veterans like me, who’ll start out in Helgen yet again, create a character, choose between the Nords and the Imperials, and set out on another 100-hour campaign.
Skyrim Special Edition will be released on October 28, for PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.