Playstation 5 and Skyrim

I’ve been continuing to play through Skyrim on my PS5, and enjoying the extra graphical power. Someone has released some mods that allow you widen the field of view, and crank up the FPS to 60 (or unlimited). Since I’m stuck at 1080p for now, naturally, it works great, and still never slows down, even with the environmental mods. I’ll be very eager to try it at 4K@120FPS some day, but, for now, it’s a very welcome addition.

Someone pointed out that Fallout 4 (which is based on the same engine) can’t be modded this way. It needs to actually be patched by Bethesda to allow for this sort of thing. Here’s hoping that they do this. 60 FPS really is quite an improvement. I played a couple of seconds of Fallout 4, and quickly decided that I won’t be doing any more of that until the mod happens.

Playstation 5: First Thoughts

I keep promising myself that I’m going to finish Spider Man and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, but I’ve been playing through Skyrim. Again. Yeah, I know. A 10 year old game being played on a 7 year old console, now playing on a PS5. But that makes it a good benchmark, because I’m so familiar with it now. Skyrim on the PS4 plays alright, but will skip frames if you turn really fast.

Of course, I had several mods installed. However, they were only gameplay mods. I had tried some graphics enhancement mods, but they slowed down the game. Not terribly, but noticeably. So I took them back out.

When I installed the game on the PS5, I saw the graphics mods in my list and thought, why not? I installed all of the popular ones for lighting, weather, fog, and water. I’m happy to report that Skyrim on the PS5 now looks quite a bit better, and never skips frames. I know this isn’t a proper demonstration of what the hardware can do, but it’s just nice, you know?

Windows. And Skyrim. Again.

I’m on vacation. At a beach. I don’t find the beach compelling. So I’m bored. Bored, but with a computer. Unfortunately, for this exercise, the computer is a MacBook Pro. And I want to play Skyrim. I’ve been having just a lovely time playing through it again on a PC I stitched together from parts, but how does one play it on a Mac? Good question.

The first attempt at an answer was to try using Parallels. Again. No bueno. Still no clues on the internet, which just seems wrong. Then again, if it were possible to do this, you’d think Parallels would advertise that fact, along with the other games they say it supports.

The only other realistic avenue was to try using Bootcamp to run Windows on the machine, directly. I’ve resisted this for a long time, because I just didn’t buy a Mac to run Windows games. Philosophy aside, this is surprisingly easy. I even still had the Windows 10 ISO file from when I built the PC, and Bootcamp found it on my hard drive, and offered to use it. I just clicked a couple of times, expanded the partition a bit, and waited. Within 15 or 20 minutes, I was in Windows (and denying all of Microsoft’s telemetry options).

Then begins the process I know pretty well by now:

  • Update Windows
  • Use Edge to install Firefox
  • Use the master key to setup 1Password
  • Get logged into Steam
  • Download and install Steam
  • Install Skyrim
  • Download and install Skyrim Script Extender
  • Get logged into NexusMods.com
  • Download and install Vortex
  • Download the dozen or so mods I like
  • Use Vortex to…

BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH

And this one was like there were 2 interleaved slides forming the BSOD message, and they were jiggling back and forth, stuck down in the lower, left quadrant of the screen, and that was enough for me. It just confirmed that this isn’t something that’s going to be well supported, and I don’t have time for this kind of nonsense any more. I rebooted into macOS, and immediately used Bootcamp to wipe out the Windows partition.

Ah… Windows, My Old “Friend”

I didn’t want to be here again. I swore I was done with Windows. But, here I am.

Years ago, I picked up Skyrim on a Steam sale, and immediately fell in love with it. I got pretty far along with it. I think I was getting to level 70 or so, but memory fades.

Then I discovered modding, and nexusmods.com.

By the time I was done, my character was so OP, and my save files so jumbled, that I lost interest, and started playing other things.

Then Windows 10 came along, and I got caught up in the hype. Since we had an Xbox 360 and an Xbox One, I thought it would be neat to get everything together, and make a Microsoft “family” unit, like you can do in with Apple gear. I upgraded all 3 of my family PC’s, hoping to be able to limit my kids’ screen time through it. Then Windows 10 went crazy, with its adverts and “push ware.” And Microsoft’s “family” thing was a complete fiasco for me. Despite six hours on the phone with Microsoft, I couldn’t join one of my kid’s Xbox account to the family unit. On top of this, the time limits for his new account didn’t work at all. So I downgraded all 3 PC’s back to 7.

Then I bought a PS4, gave my monster game rig to my son, retired the other 2 PC’s, gave away the 360, and washed my hands of Microsoft, and Office.

Skyrim went on sale on the Playstation store, and I thought, “Hey, there won’t be a way for me to break the game with the mods available in the Creators Club.” Turns out I was wrong on that point… but I avoided the OP ones, and I started playing again, just concentrating on the main quest. I got to about level 30 again, and just kept getting bogged down by the slowness, and the controls, the lack of SkyUI for inventory management, and the inability to “fudge” the rules a little, from time to time.

Like, really, I hauled 100 pounds of dwarven scrap metal back from some ruins, to craft thousands of dwarven arrows from it, and level up smithing very quickly. I’m not spending literal hours of real time, chopping firewood for this. I’m going to open the console, and type player.additem 6f993 100, and just get on with it.

So I quit playing.

Then I got a bright idea. Skyrim is an old game, right? It should run on old hardware just fine, right? I still had the old PC’s lying around. Could they run the game better than the console?… I put a 760 in one machine, and quickly found that it would “hitch” every few seconds. I started digging into the problem, and discovered that the machine was so old that it had a Core 2 Duo, and that’s actually below even the modest Skyrim SE minimum requirements.

Another old PC had a Phenom II X6, which wasn’t a bad chip. That was enough to run Skyrim, but the power supply in that machine didn’t have enough juice to run the 760, so I was left with using some 5970 piece of junk. It wouldn’t run the game at all, because it was stuck at DX 9.

Time passed.

Parallels advertised that their latest version supports DX 12. Like a fool, I paid good many to upgrade, only to prove that running Skyrim under Parallels is also a hitch-ridden exercise. If someone has figured out how to make this work well, I’d love to hear about it. It doesn’t seem to be accessing the texture memory of the GPU on the Mac. I don’t know if that’s an architecture limitation or a configuration problem. I couldn’t find anything about this from searching.

Time passed.

I got the itch to play Skyrim again, so I took another look at my Phenom-based computer. I started looking into the detailed power requirements, and thought, you know what? They’re probably just being safe. I could probably run the 760 with the power supply I have, if I just adapt some of the power leads to hook into it. So I ordered what I needed.

Then I thought, hey, let me double check my junk pile. Lo and behold! I had a power supply that could run on the Phenom-based computer, and comfortably power the 760! I had totally forgotten that I had helped a friend with some home networking stuff, and he had given me the thing because he didn’t need it any more. I noticed that it needed one power adapter to plug into the motherboard, so I ordered it too. And then I noticed that I didn’t need the adapter. So I installed it, and got the game loaded, and found that it ran great!

And now I have 3 power adapter cords that I don’t need.

The only niggle now was that I had a lot of noise in the audio line. And it got worse when I actually ran the game. I was just using the baked-in sound card, so I installed a spare Creative XFi card. That didn’t fix it. Then I figured out that the noise was coming from the HDMI line. So I muted it. Then I disabled it. Then I pulled the audio feed from my monitor out of my mixer entirely.

I’ve been using HDMI audio on my PS4 all along, but it has an optical output jack… And I’ve since bought a Thunderbolt 3 dock for my MBP which also has an optical output jack… So I took the opportunity to buy a cheap digital audio switch, and swap out everything for TOSLINK audio.

By now, the game is playing so much better on the PC than the console, there’s no going back. So I did the last step. I bought an SSD, and cloned the HDD onto it. Even on this 10-year-old PC, Skyrim is playing like butter at the 60Hz monitor frame limit, inventory management is a breeze, the controls work well, and load times are, like, half a second.

Skyrim. I can’t believe how much effort this game has caused me to expend. This time, for sure, whatever else happens, I’m finishing the main quest, and putting it to bed. But the whole exercise reminded me of why I have always been drawn to this hobby. Hacking stuff together and figuring out the solutions to all the problems along the way is interesting to me, and I guess I’ve kind of missed it.