With the Skyrim: Special Edition out this week, fans of Bethesda’s critically-acclaimed RPG have been able to enjoy the game’s sweeping vistas at a higher resolution, since much of the game’s look has been reworked for modern consoles. Unfortunately, the same can’t currently be said for the game’s audio.
Reddit user LasurArkinshade has found that the PC and Xbox one versions of the Special Edition feature drastically compressed audio, sounding more muddled than the game’s original 2011 release. At first they though the more muddled sound may have been their ears betraying them, but after extracting the files from the remastered version of the game, they were able to confirm their fear. “The vanilla game has sound assets (other than music and voiceover) in uncompressed .wav format,” they wrote in their post. “The Special Edition has the sound assets all in (very aggressively compressed) .xwm format, which is a compressed sound format designed for games. This isn’t so bad, necessarily – it’s possible to compress audio to .xwm without significant quality degradation unless you crank the compression way up to insane levels. What did Bethesda do? They cranked the compression way up to insane levels.”
LasurArkinshade has gone as far as posting an audio comparison between the original and remastered versions of the game, which you can find here.
Meanwhile, the PlayStation 4 version features higher quality than that of any other version of the game, which lead LasurArkinshade to conclude that the lower quality on the other two versions of the Special Edition was in fact an oversight.
Shortly after the post was made, Bethesda responded, saying “We’re currently testing a fix and hope to have an update out next week.”
[Source: LasurArkinshade on Reddit via Kotaku]
If, as LasurArkinshade assumes, the issue was a simple oversight of someone not inserting the right files in the right place, it’s an interesting case of how QA might have its pitfalls. I would say that it should have been found by someone during testing, but unless you put the two samples side by side and gave me a good enough pair of headphones, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you which version is better. But hey, at least this issue could be all patched up as early as next week. Which is good, because I probably won’t have time to play Skyrim again until sometime next year.