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'Skyrim Special Edition' Audio Problems: Bethesda Promises Fix, Hopes To Launch Update This Week

31 October 2016, 2:33 am EDT By Carl Velasco Tech Times
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Bethesda is hoping to release an update for Skyrim Special Edition next week, in light of problems users have started reporting about the game's poor audio quality.

Skyrim Special Edition was released for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC last Friday, a nostalgic flashback trip to Bethesda's widely acclaimed and meme-spouting game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, released back in November 2011.

Now that the game's out for a couple of days, Bethesda might have made the special edition just a tad bit too nostalgic as it were, with many users reporting issues with the game's audio and sound library. This is because the audio files in Skyrim Special Edition uses a compressed format that renders them sonically inferior even compared with the original game released five years ago.

Over at the Skyrim Mods subreddit, user LasurArkinshade first reported the issue.

"I couldn't help but notice that the audio seemed ... muddier. Less crisp," LasurArkinshade wrote.

The Reddit user went ahead and put up a comparison of the original games and the remastered edition using a sound bite from both games and laying the tracks beside one another to determine if the significant drop in quality wasn't simply a placebo effect.

LasurArkinshade did a little digging and extracted samples from the original game's and remastered edition's sound library and discovered the root of the seemingly inferior sound quality of Skyrim Special Edition compared with the original game.

Bethesda, the studio behind Skyrim, went a little overboard in compressing the sound files for the re-release. The original game housed uncompressed .wav format sound files, which accounted for a lossless, optimum sound quality, while the newer game contains an "aggressively compressed" .xwm sound format, typically designed for games.

The compression itself isn't very degrading unless it's cranked up to overwhelming compression levels, which apparently Bethesda is guilty of.

"We're currently testing a fix and hope to have an update out next week," Matt Grandstaff, global community lead for Bethesda, replied on the same thread.

On surface level, the two sound effects might not prove to be all that significantly different, but the stark contrast becomes highly noticeable when wearing gaming headphones, resulting in a muddled and hollow audio quality.

Reddit user withmorten further confirmed that Bethesda did mishandle the compression for the re-release of Skyrim, linking a spectrogram of the two sound files that show just how many frequencies Bethesda cut off.

It remains unclear whether Bethesda could patch things up accordingly since it essentially needs to replace all the audio files in the game with properly compressed ones, which is a tall order to accomplish.

Skyrim Special Edition is available now. It is a remastered re-release of the original widely beloved game released in 2011, sporting numerous gags and pop culture insertions during its run. Despite the issues with audio, those who'll get the game for Xbox One can cheer up a bit, since you're bound to get six times the number of mods compared with the PS4 edition.

Skyrim Special Edition is a way for Bethesda to curb the uproarious demand of the Skyrim community for a new entry in the series, which Bethesda confirmed won't be happening for a very long time.

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