The release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was a commercial and critical success for developer Bethesda, but hasn't been without a few technical hiccups. So when the first patch for the massive game was released, many expected it to be fixing random glitches and other issues. However, it looks like the patch does far less than that. After installing the update, players found that Skyrim could no longer be played without Steam, and the amount of RAM available was completely throttled.
To say that this comes as somewhat of a disappointment would be an understatement, since we would much rather see Bethesda fix the Xbox 360 install issues, the PlayStation 3 system crashes, or the myriad graphical glitches the game is suffering from. But instead, Bethesda released a meager 18MB patch that Rock, Paper Shotgun is claiming does nothing other than making the game's executable unable to run without Steam. That, and make 2GB of RAM the absolute maximum that even super-powered gaming rigs can utilize.
The large address aware third-party patch that granted unrestricted RAM also made several of Skyrim's more interesting mods possible, so why it is that a publisher so fond of mods would go out of their way to make them impossible is something we can't understand. With debates over DRM and the removal of modding from several substantial titles it's become the norm for companies to keep their heads down to avoid controversy. Could that be why Bethesda waited this long to release this unexplained update? We can only wonder.
There are almost certainly good reasons to keep Skyrim from being completely open and able to be tampered with, even if it's easy to argue that a game should be allowed to look as good as it possibly can. But with a game world that apparently includes both Morrowind and Cyrodiil, there's the possibility, however slim, that Bethesda has plans that they don't want spoiled by crafty gamers.
In case you've already downloaded and installed the new update, RPS has uncovered a work-around that will allow more powerful rigs to boost visuals, so be sure to look into that here. But beware, since technical issues as a result are always a risk. Hopefully Bethesda will explain exactly why they felt it necessary to impose new DRM and restrictions at this point, but until then we can only speculate.
Do you have any theories on this besides the obvious? Run into any issues yourself? Be sure to let us know in the comments.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is available now for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
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Source: Rock, Paper Shotgun