Skyrim Anniversary Edition Could Exterminate The Game's Best Mods
Mods, where we're going, we don't need mods. 2021 is a big year for gaming thanks to the release of titles like Halo Infinite, Battlefield 2042, Resident Evil Village, and all the rest. For many of us though, the upcoming release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition is top of our Christmas list.
November 11 marks a whole decade since Skyrim first slashed its way into our lives, but even 10 years later, the game's fandom shows no signs of slowing down. Despite the Anniversary Edition adding fishing to the mix, some have criticised Bethesda for another cash-grab port. Those arguments are sure to rear their head again, thanks to news the latest release could upturn the modding community.
What's wrong with the Skyrim Anniversary Edition?
If you're a Skyrim pro, chances are you use the Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE) plug-in to add Thomas the Tank Engine, Witchers, and a laugh track to your play. The problem comes from the fact that every time the Bethesda Creation Club gets an update, the SKSE breaks. Most of us have a workaround that uses a separate mod manager, so problem solved... or is it?
Skyrim's Anniversary Edition includes the previously released Special Edition version that features all mods available in the Creation Club (and more to come). PC Gamer claims that instead of being its own version of Steam, the upcoming release will update the previous game - meaning SKSE is about to be snapped in half.
For anyone that thinks this is wild speculation, one SKSE develop has said, "Bethesda has decided to update the compiler used to build the 64-bit version of Skyrim from Visual Studio 2015 to Visual Studio 2019. This changes the way that the code is generated in a way that forces mod developers to start from scratch finding functions and writing hooks."
It all sounds pretty complicated, but basically, a simple rebuild might not be possible. "Plugins using the Address Library will need to be divided into 'pre-AE' and 'post-AE' eras", continued the post. "Code signatures and hooks will need to be rewritten. We will all need to find functions again. The compiler's inlining behaviour has changed enough that literally a hundred thousand functions have disappeared and been either inlined or deadstripped, to put it in perspective."
What's the bottom line for Skyrim mods?
Where does this leave us then? Although some mods will survive the cull, expect to see a very different Tamriel when booting up the Anniversary Edition. Concluding with how hard it will be, the dev said, "This realistically means that the native code mod scene is going to be broken for an unknown length of time after AE's release". In layman's terms, the SKSE will be updated, but many mods are now out of date and aren't worth the hassle.
The SKSE team is apparently working on a downgrade modlist, while you can also use DepotDownloader to revert back to a previous edition. Hoping to avoid the great mod massacre of 2021, the developer suggests you backup your executable and disable Steam updates before the latest edition releases.
Either way, it sounds like Steam is swooping in like Daenery Targaryen on the back of Alduin and shouting "Dracarys" to our modding dreams.