Cue the male-voice choir...
Cue the male-voice choir…
Image: Bethesda

Behold the mighty Dovahkiin, hero of Skyrim! There they stand — oh wait no actually they’re curled up in a foetal position, shivering due to acute hypothermia and malnutrition…

It’s been six years since Skyrim first graced our consoles, but yesterday Bethesda announced an official new edition of the game. Skyrim Survival Mode is available now as a beta on Steam, and will be coming to Xbox One and Playstation 4 next month.

“But how will this new survival mode work?” I’m so glad you asked!

Given that the landscape of Skyrim is basically Norway on speed, you can bet the weather is gonna affect your character. Exposure to the cold is potentially deadly in this new beta. According to Bethesda’s official release, cold can be countered by “standing near a fire, eating hot soup, or moving to a warmer location”.

Yep, definitely gonna need a nice minestrone for scaling that.

Yep, definitely gonna need a nice minestrone for scaling that.

Image: bethesda

Food will also be an issue. Whereas before the Dovahkiin could happily travel for miles on nothing more than a health potion or two (and perhaps a little medicinal skooma) now hunger will affect your stamina. Careful not to eat anything undercooked though, or your character might get food poisoning.

Hunger will now come up in your active effects, just like vampirism.

Hunger will now come up in your active effects, just like vampirism.

Image: Bethesda

Sleeping will also become way more essential, as too long without sleep and your magicka, stamina and the effectiveness of potions will also decline. You will also only be able to level up when asleep. You’d better tuck your Dovahkiin in every night!

There are all sorts of little details that will make the game more of a challenge, and you can check out all of them in the official statement. The most cynical of the lot: to receive blessings at shrines you will need to make an offering of gold. So basically, you don’t get the church’s perks without kicking in to the donation plate.

"Sure, I'll give you my blessing... cash up front."

“Sure, I’ll give you my blessing… cash up front.”

Image: bethesda

A survival-mode Skyrim seems a little strange, as often the appeal of fantasy RPGs like Skyrim lies in a sense of escapism. When living the life of a fantasy warrior you don’t necessarily want to be thinking about just how peckish your character may feel, or whether you should have brought a scarf into this particular dungeon. However survival mods for Skyrim have been around for a very long time, so some players clearly relish the challenge. Now console and not just PC gamers will be able to share in that challenge, which is pretty neat.

Less neat is the fact that Bethesda is being cagey about how much this edition will cost. On their official statement they only mention “both PC and console players will get Survival Mode free for one week once it launches on their preferred platform” but gives no indication of how much it might cost after the free trial is up. Bethesda’s already received some backlash from fans, many voicing the opinion that Bethesda is making a cash grab using modders’ ideas.

The big question is, will the Argonian characters be able to go anywhere in the cold? They’re lizards so presumably they’re cold-blooded… right? More on this as it develops.

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