This 5-year-old game looks better than anything that’s come out this year

As a rule of thumb, video games tend to look better as time moves forward. That’s how it goes.

Not so much when it comes to 2011’s “Skyrim” – a fantasy epic where you slay dragons, learn magic, and explore a vast world. The game’s looking better than ever in 2016 thanks to the work of passionate fans. Just look at this:

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Video games didn’t look this fantastic in 2011. They rarely look this good in 2016.
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Bethesda Softworks

Exactly. Here’s how they did it.


Let’s start with what “Skyrim” looked like back in 2011. It’s not a bad looking game by any means, but it’s not exactly the belle of the ball.

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Bethesda Softworks

The game was released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC originally. It’s the PC version that’s gotten the major update seen here.

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Bethesda Softworks

So, how does this one version of a five-year-old game look so much better? Through game modifications (“mods”).

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Bethesda Softworks

Games are made up of many moving parts of code. Mods allow players to alter foundational aspects of a game, like the entire lighting system.

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Just look at those shadows!
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Bethesda Softworks

Or the look of the water in the world of “Skyrim”:

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Bethesda Softworks

Or even the details of the game’s moon:

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Bethesda Softworks

Another crucial change: focus.

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Try to ignore the bedraggled pup on the right.
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Bethesda Softworks

This effect is called “bokeh,” and it’s basically just the concept of focusing on a specific aspect of an image.

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Bethesda Softworks

The most impressive stuff, visually, may just be these sweeping landscape shots:

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Bethesda Softworks

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Bethesda Softworks

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Bethesda Softworks

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Bethesda Softworks

So, how do you do all this? A lot of work.

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Bethesda Softworks

Reddit user “pingopete” said he’s got “over 50 graphics mods running,” alongside some custom work they did to fit those mods as best as possible to the five-year-old game. “Skyrim” remains one of the most popular games to mod. Interested in getting “Skryim” looking this good? There’s a long set of instructions right here, care of “pingopete.”


Want a better looking “Skyrim” but don’t want to spend all this time making it look good? Good news: an updated version of “Skyrim” launches later this year on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Jump to 3:15 in the video below to see it in action!