As mentioned in an earlier article, Skyrim (both PC and console versions) have been littered with bugs here and there. Some were game-breaking; some weren’t. Fortunately, Bethesda promised patches and are beginning to deliver with an update due for all platforms on November 28th.
On launch day, the 360 version was provided with a 1.1 update to the game. This update fixed a variety of performance issues as well as some calculation errors. However, there was one major issue not addressed by this patch: 360 players noticed that textures were scaling down and becoming blurry at a distance, but when approached by the player, they did not scale up again. Bethesda have addressed this via a post on their forums:
Skyrim uses a lot of dynamic streaming systems, including textures. We’ve seen a few reports of certain textures temporarily scaling down on the Xbox 360, and not scaling back up. We have verified that this issue does not occur when playing off the disk and when the game is fully cached (not installed). Skyrim makes heavy use of the Xbox 360 caching system, and caches over the normal course of play while in menus or interiors. This cache can be wiped when other games are played or when the user manually removes it. We’re working on a solution in the next title update for those who have installed the game.
The PS3 also experienced a severe issue with save files. A number of players noticed that the save files were getting bigger as their play time increased. Some were reporting save files of 9MB or more, and this resulted in a slowdown that eventually made the game unplayable. Thankfully, GamesIndustry.biz pointed out how Bethesda’s Pete Hines assured that a fix for this was “on the list for this update.”
PC users found themselves also at the mercy of game issues, finding that the game was unable to use more than 2GB of RAM. A workaround for this was found via a third-party modification called Large Address Awareness mode. This required modifying the executable but allowed full usage of the user’s RAM for the game. This not only boosted general game performance, but was of particular aid to those using many add-ons. Sadly, this was recently disabled via a small patch that went live on Steam yesterday. Thankfully, a new workaround that works without modifying the executable has been found, but official support for RAM usages larger than 2GB remains to be seen. Hopefully, it will be addressed by the update on the 28th, but word from Bethesda remains to be seen.
Analysis: I haven’t purchased the game yet, and this is one of the main reasons. PC releases as of late have been rather buggy, and it behooves the player to wait a little while for major issues to be addressed with patches. Additionally, I tend to buy games like this for the PC more often than not, and as Ars Technica’s Ben Kuchera notes, PC prices drop faster than a lead balloon. Steam tends to have outrageous sales, and a gamer with good fiscal sense realizes this.
It’s good to see Bethesda’s relatively quick response to player feedback, but it’s frustrating that they would limit the PC version to only 2GB of RAM. We live in a time where 8GB is standard for gaming PCs, so limiting the usage to only a fourth of that is ludicrous. That issue needs to be addressed ASAP. Hopefully after a few weeks, the game will be completely stable and optimized.