Every Version of Skyrim Ranked

Every Version of Skyrim Ranked

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With the announcement of Skyrim: Anniversary Edition slated to release this November, a sobering realization hit: There are way too many versions of this open-world RPG out there. In the 10 years it has been out, the game has become a new generation’s answer to 1993’s Doom. If it has a screen and a processor, someone is going to get this game to run on it.

On the one hand, it means the game’s preservation in history is all but guaranteed. On the other, it means that all of these different versions are not made equal. Now, thanks to science, testing, and a lot of complicated math, we are here to deliver to you a definitive list of all the different versions of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim ranked from worst to best.

The comedian Keegan Michael Key yelling at his Alexa to do Skyrim commands
Remember this commercial? Well you do now.

7. The Alexa Version

Yes. This is not a joke. If you own an Amazon Alexa, there is a free application that allows you to play Skyrim with this device. Alexa narrates what is around you. You tell her what you want to do. She tells you the result. Rinse and repeat. There is no controller or keyboard, no visual component at all. You are just talking to something about how you want to steal all the sweet rolls in a castle then pickpocket the local merchant. Specifically, you are talking to something that is most likely sending your private information to Amazon so they can recommend you Skyrim-themed merchandise and beard oil for some reason.

This is the worst version because it isn’t even really Skyrim. At best it is a one-on-one D&D session with an unoriginal Game Master and no dice. Skip this.

The player on the starting kart of Skyrim, taken from the PlayStation3 version
Pretty sure the gods aren’t going to help with the problems this version has.

6. Skyrim for PlayStation 3

Getting into the original 2011 console releases now, it is pretty obvious that the PlayStation 3 version of Skyrim the weakest. This is coming from someone whose first experience of the game was on this platform. Overall, this is not a terrible way to experience Bethesda’s acclaimed fantasy RPG. Everything is content complete, you can reach the credits no problem, and everything looks and sounds alright.

But what makes it a worse version is the memory and save data issues. Basically, the longer you play, the save data on the PlayStation 3 version of Skyrim would get larger. This could range from a few hundred KB to over 90 MB. Back in 2011, this was a big deal. It also had the unintended effect of the game beginning to freeze and lock up as the save data size continued to grow. For an open-world RPG that encourages you to explore and experience everything you can, the worst kind of issue you can have is actively punish players for putting in hundreds of hours of play.

A forested landscape from Skyrim on Xbox 360
It looks flat now, but back then this was magical.

5. Skyrim for Xbox 360

On the other side of the coin is the original release on Xbox 360. Like the PS3 version, this is a perfectly serviceable version of Skyrim. In fact, aside from a weird rendering issue where running or falling water can sometimes freeze in place, there’s not a whole lot wrong here.

This is the first case of a console release adding something unique to the experience. In the 360’s case, this version of Skyrim had Kinect support. You could actually yell at the sensor in order to perform one of the game’s iconic dragon shouts. Also, you could use it for item and weapon shortcuts. The latter is a much bigger deal considering the game’s really embarrassing item menu.

The downside is you would need to own and actively use an Xbox Kinect sensor to enjoy this feature. And considering the price of those things at launch, it really wasn’t worth it.

Link's outfit and weapons done in Skyrim

4. Skyrim for the Nintendo Switch

Once again, the console versions of Skyrim are all completely functional, and the Nintendo Switch version is no exception. Released in 2017, this is essentially the Legendary Edition (the base game with all paid expansions included) released on the hybrid console.

What helps bump it up in the rankings are a few things. First, the novelty of playing a complete version of this game on the go gives it a lot more utility compared to more dedicated hardware. Second is that there are no real noticeable compromises or technical issues on this version. No save data issues, no weird water effects. There are even, albeit really basic, motion controls built into the Joy-Cons. To borrow a phrase, it just works.

If there is an element that feels undercooked, it is the Amiibo support. Put a Zelda-themed amiibo figure on the console’s NFC reader and you can unlock an in-game version of Link’s iconic Master Sword, Hylian Shield, and Champion’s Tunic to use. While the sword and shield look well enough, the tunic looks like a crappy reskinned asset and not really worth it. Also, I’m pretty sure you couldn’t enhance or enchant any of the items, so what’s the point?

A forested landscape at sunset in Skyrim
Look at those god rays, truly this is worth another purchase.

3. Skyrim Special Edition on Xbox One and PlayStation 4

Next up we have the remastered versions released on 2016 for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. On the whole, these versions of Skyrim are pretty great and on par with one another. They not only fix a lot of the issues that popped up on the PS3 and 360 versions, but included brand-new graphical upgrades. Upgraded textures, fancy new lighting, streamlined loading screens, and the inclusion of all DLC up to this point make this a pretty complete package.

So what keeps these versions from being higher? Two words: Creation Club. On paper, the idea of delivering paid mods into console versions of a game known for its modding community isn’t a bad idea. Unfortunately, it’s hampered by a lot of asinine and draconian restrictions, mostly for legal and technical reasons. You can mod in weapons and armor from other Bethesda games, sure, but heaven forbid you pay someone to turn dragons into Thomas the Tank Engine on a console.

A featured image of Skyrim on PlayStation VR

2. Skyrim VR Edition

Seven years after the original release, what could possibly make the experience of Skyrim refreshing and novel again? How about the entire experience with all of its downloadable content included, completely playable in immersive VR?

That is exactly what Skyrim VR Edition delivers on. Released for every VR headset available at the time — including the PlayStation 4’s PSVR attachment — it was exactly what you would expect. Motion controls let you actually fire arrows and block attacks. You could actually jog and explore the world at your leisure. Fighting a dragon became a completely different experience when you could feel its jaws around your head.

The only real problem with this version is that it is not a free add-on. If you already owned a copy of Skyrim but wanted to play it in VR, you had to purchase this edition separately. Given how many barriers to entry there already are in VR gaming, this doesn’t help.

Crabs from Skyrim made to look like Spider-Man
Spider mods, spider mods, does whatever the spider mods do.

1. Skyrim on PC

At number one, it’s the version that should come as a surprise to no one. The PC version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the version everyone immediately thinks of when talking about this game. This is for good reason. Rather than a bunch of separate SKUs with a couple of interesting things added, you only got more with every purchase of Skyrim on PC. When the Special Edition was released, if you already owned the base game on PC with all the DLC, it was a free upgrade. Furthermore, while Creation Club was still a thing, it was something you could opt out of on PC. This is something that you probably will do since the modding community is extremely comprehensive. Everything from quality-of-life improvements to alternate game modes to wacky nonsensical changes are all possible. In terms of versatility, utility, and longevity, Skyrim on PC is definitively the best version of the game bar none.


What’s your favorite place to play Skyrim? Let us know in the comments below.

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