Skyrim: Special Edition looks really, really good. Along from the 1080p resolution bump, Bethesda added in the high-res textures from the PC version and wrapped everything up with a 30FPS cap. There's been reports of major frame rate drops on Xbox One, but I honestly haven't experienced these.
The game is quite smooth in combat despite some clashing hiccups here and there (enemies bumping into walls, getting stuck where they shouldn't, and the hilarious giant smash ragdoll effect) but these are minor at least in my experience.
Texture pop-ins will occasionally appear, even if you adjust the included depth-of-field slider, but they're nowhere near as bad as No Man's Sky. The atmospheric effects blanket these pop-ins at times, but mostly you don't even notice them and can't even determine if they are actually there or not. Overall the immediate terrain is consistent, vivid, and well-defined, making the experience feel solid and immersive.
Faraway trees and ground textures don't have much detail, but that's really to be expected on consoles, especially an outdated system like the stock Xbox One. How bad or good faraway areas look depends on the environment as well as lighting and atmospheric effects--the game does very well in hiding specific blemishes and brushing up rough spots with the fog, almost like a paintbrush can blend two colors together to hide strokes. Rocks and mountains typically look decent even from far away, but the snowy fir trees and winding rivers can look pretty bad at times.
The atmospheric effects are a wonderful touch, and even under the most extreme fog, rainstorms, or blizzard effects, I haven't had any major frame rate drops. This includes the GPU-taxing atmospheric fog that swirls across certain regions like The Pale. The only real major FPS drops I've experienced are triggered by dropping too many items in a given space, and the death animations are smooth as well.
Skyrim's new lighting system is the most dramatic change to the visuals, adding striking scenic views to nearly every zone in the game. The godrays transform the hinterlands into a palisade right out of a high fantasy series, offering enchanting eye-candy that breathes new life into the game.
One big gripe I have about Skyrim are these weird transparent horizontal lines that always appear when looking at specific textures while in motion, specifically the trees. I haven't been able to properly capture this effect in a screenshot or video, and I've tried it on two different 1080p HDTVs. These lines are prominent in both the Xbox One and Xbox 360 version and can be spotted clearly at night time when looking at a large clump of trees. These lines will also appear in the grass as well, hampering the immersion.
Despite these weird lines, the game still looks great, but when combined with the weird grey-white contrasting, this effect does hurt my eyes from time to time.
Combat is basically as smooth as it was in the original, and I've tested all forms of combat including sword and board, magic, two-handers, bows, sneaking attacks, finishers, and different permutations of these archetypes. I did encounter some weird glitches when smacking enemies who were asleep from time to time.
I've also encountered some glitches when getting too close to NPCs who are acting out the sitting animation, and they'll sometimes be pushed off the chair and sit in mid-air. I've also had some funny bugs while smithing, making potions, and even cooking--the NPCs typically fly off screen, and land on the ground nearby.
All in all the performance is better, and the game looks great, but it's still Skyrim, and there will be bugs and glitches. Despite this, I haven't encountered anything I'd call game-breaking, nor have I really experienced any performance issues that hinder my gameplay.
If you're worried about glitches, just download the Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch mod right away to smooth out some of these bugs.
PRICING: You can find Skyrim: Special Edition for Xbox One for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link below to see real-time pricing for the best deal:
United States: The Skyrim: Special Edition Xbox One retails for $55 at Amazon.
United Kingdom: The Skyrim: Special Edition Xbox One retails for £35 at Amazon UK.
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