What are the major differences between Skyrim and Skyrim: Special Edition? I'm looking to understand all of the signficant changes between Skyrim and Skyrim: SE; not just whether or not a few quests have been changed or not.

Specifically looking for:

  • Graphical improvements?
  • Gameplay improvements?
  • Performance improvements?
  • Mechanic impromvements?
  • Modding improvements?



  • Supports 64-bit render targets by switching from 32-bit to 64-bit
  • Options to enable God Rays, Snow Shaders, Lens Flares
  • Supports Direct X 11


  • Console versions now fully support Mods
  • 7
    "Fully" might be overstating things. I'd be surprised if consoles got SKSE. Oct 28 '16 at 21:59
  • 7
    PS4 Mods cannot use new assets, all "assets" for the mods must already be included in game.
    – nailbones
    Oct 29 '16 at 4:36
  • Rain occlusion and better water flow/movement. Also due to more memory available no more distant terrain flickering and much bigger battles. Nov 4 '16 at 12:06
  • Good answer, especially re the graphics. To say they're 'better' is subjective.
    – C26
    Aug 4 '20 at 13:21

First of all, the graphics are better. For example, if you're on normal Skyrim and you go behind a tree casting a shadow on the ground, if you look up in front of it you won't see that. You will in Special Edition though. Also, in normal Skyrim, (It's hard to notice.) Everything is 2D. Barrels, trees, everything. In Special Edition they're not. There are a few more new things but I'm running out of time. Although, if you look around closely at your surroundings and your weapons, menu, everything, you'll notice all the differences. Also, the game freezes a lot less.

  • "Also, in normal Skyrim, (It's hard to notice.) Everything is 2D. Barrels, trees, everything." This is just not true. And makes no sense.
    – Alan B
    Nov 4 '20 at 17:25

the main one is the fact that it includes the 3 DLCs. There's a wee bit less glitches and if i remember correctly on SE has mods. The rest is unnoticeable.

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