Game Reviews PC Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (PC)
Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (PC)

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (PC) Hot

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Accessibility At A Glance Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (PC)


Precision > Maybe You will need precision to play
One-Handed > No Avoid this game
Deaf Gamers > Maybe Avoid this game Game
Subtitles > Some You may want to move past this game
Colorblind > Yes Colorblind gamers should be okay

About the Game

Release Date
November 15, 2011
Licence Category


Skyrim, the game people have been waiting years for has finally arrived. With dozens of e-mails and tweets from our readers, it's safe to say there wasn't a more highly requested title for review in all of 2011. But did it hold up to your expectations?

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Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (PC)
Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (PC)
Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (PC)

Editor review

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (PC) 2011-11-24 18:08:53 Steve Spohn
Overall rating 
Steve Spohn Reviewed by Steve Spohn    November 24, 2011
Last updated: November 25, 2011
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews


Skyrim, the game people have been waiting years for has finally arrived. With dozens of e-mails and tweets from our readers, it's safe to say there wasn't a more highly requested title for review in all of 2011. But did it hold up to your expectations?

Let's get the obvious out of the way right off the bat. There has not been a more open or environmentally beautiful game released this year. The gameplay itself is spectacular as far as giving you the ability to play the game how you want to play it. If Dragon Age is the perfect story driven game where you are engrossed in a graphic novel-esq style game that immerses you into the story line on rails, Skyrim is the key to taking the game off the rails.

In this game, your choices actually matter and change the outcome of the game. You affect the world around you one quest and one choice at a time, but much like real life, you can walk through the entire game in your direction at your own pace, not the way the developers want you to.

Dragon Age gives you an engaging story with deep immersion, but ultimately all choices lead to the same answer. Skyrim gives you the building blocks and tells you to go play. That's the difference.

Having said all that wonderful mushiness about the game, this IS a console port. The controls are obviously ported over as is evidenced by the remapping of keys often not working, lack of options, and flow of the game.

Whether or not the game is worth playing will depend upon your determination to get around some huge stumbling blocks when it comes to accessibility. For one of the first times in game history, the PC version of this game will rate lower than the console version. That almost never happens, but in this situation the developers intended the game to be played on the console and that's where the effort went.

Game Accessibility


When I first started playing Skyrim the mouse sensitivity was so low that I could not use the mouse to look around. In order to increase the mouse sensitivity you're going to need to go to … \My Documents\My Games\Skyrim and edit the SkyrimPrefs.ini file. Change the setting fMouseHeadingSensitivity=0.0125 to something like fMouseHeadingSensitivity=2.0000 and that should help with the camera movement. It's worth mentioning that there is no way to increase the cursor speed for clicking on menus or the interactive character dialogue. The game automatically dampens the speed of your mouse cursor far below what you have it set in Windows. If you have trouble moving the mouse without increased speed, you're going to need a head mouse.

There is no way to access an on-screen keyboard in Skyrim. Due to the way the game is played, your mouse is immediately captured and used to operate the camera controlling the directional movement of your character. You will not even be able to use the onscreen keyboard to type in the name of your desired character. Be warned, you will need dictation software or a friend for this part. However, naming your character is the only time you need to type anything in game. Even so, if you use the onscreen keyboard to play games like WoW, you're going to have to find a different way to play. The only options are to use the mouse or an Xbox 360 controller.

That's not to say that the keyboard is not important. In fact, the keyboard is more important than the mouse in some respects. If you cannot operate a regular keyboard, you're going to need to use voice recognition software like VAC or Say2Play. There are approximately 10 mandatory commands you're going to need to be able to use in order to play the game such as opening doors, looting bodies, jumping, sneaking and tabbing out of menus. This game is notoriously bad for forcing us to hit tab to escape from menus. Whether you're trying to leave the view of the map, close a menu or stop speaking to an NPC you need to press tab.

Much of the gameplay, particularly crafting and exploring dialogue involves pressing E and Tab repeatedly.

For whatever reason, many of the menus in the game cannot be manipulated entirely by the mouse. The only thing the mouse is good for is map movement, equipping an item and skill tree navigation. If you want to exit a menu, move up and down dialogue choices, drop items, give items or separate items you're going to need the keyboard or the mouse wheel.

That's not to say anything about the skill lock picking. One of the essential skills to be a thief in this game, or the loot chests in dungeons, is to be able to lock pick. In order to do so, you must move the mouse around the screen as a lock picking tool pressing A or D until you find the “sweet spot” at which time you must hold down the button.

Lock picking is nearly impossible if you are mobility impaired whether that is the inability to move the mouse or the inability to keep the mouse steady. Say2Play is completely useless for this task as you can only set buttons to be pressed for the same amount of time, and in this scenario you need multiple lengths of button pressing. VAC is currently the best answer as you can set multiple commands at different time lengths, but even at that, the lock picking mechanism is much more difficult than it needed to be. If this was not a console port, clicking the mouse would be a perfectly reasonable mechanic to pick a lock.

I'm not going to lie. With over 35 hours played, it's fairly obvious that I personally was willing to traverse the relatively high mobility inaccessibility to continue playing the game. Yes, in my opinion, it is worth it. However, that will highly depend upon your ability and how much effort you're willing to put into playing a game.

There is a command console (which is or is not cheating depending upon your view of this utility) that can be brought up by pushing `. Once you have brought up the screen you can type “unlock” in order to unlock any chest or door without having to do the lock picking minigame. Whether you consider this cheating or working around an impossible mechanic to deal with due to your disability is up to you. There are other more severe commands you can put into this prompt, but I will leave that up to you to do the Google research if this is the route you wish to take.

Personally, I use the code to unlock doors because there is no other way for me to open locked objectives. Using these does not disable achievements, but I have not and will not use other codes because I consider this cheating. My personal lifestyle is to avoid things like trainers that make games easier, but in this circumstance I was given no choice other than to use the tools given by the developers.


Point-blank this game relies heavily on sound. Enabling subtitles is a must


Many websites have taken Bethesda to task for their poor implementation of the UI. I'm not going to take up your time launching into a rant about how hard it is to read the text on certain backgrounds, how small they made the menus given how much room they have, or how they like to use white text in areas where you need to talk to NPCs in a snow-covered background.

AbleGamers have repeatedly asked me to make sure that I mentioned how difficult it is to read the text on all versions, not just PC.
There are no colorblind issues. That is one good thing I can say about the game. Your only problem will be if you have low vision, not colorblind issues.


Initially, Bethesda was very responsive to our original questions. They are the ones who divulged how to increase the camera sensitivity speed. However, after the sixth or seventh e-mail, we have been unable to get any response from the company. AbleGamers has submitted a document of accessibility problems as per the request of Bethesda, but are no longer responding to questions about whether this list of how to improve the accessibility will be implemented.

Hopefully, it will be. At the time of this writing, they are certainly not going in the right direction. The most recent patch around Thanksgiving disabled the ability for third parties to mod the game with increased accessibility.

I can recommend that you try the game no matter your disability. But please do not purchase the game without trying it first. For me, the game was worth the trouble. I love that open-ended environment, the real effect your choices have on the game, and I love character creation where they give you the skills and let you build your own character (ex: Star Wars Galaxies). But make no mistake about it, Skyrim is not an accessible game, and unless Bethesda stops shutting out the disabled community, I don't see it becoming accessible anytime soon.

At a glance:


-No on-screen keyboard
-Mouse sensitivity is incredibly low for menus with no option to increase it
-Lock picking is a nightmare for anyone with any kind of mobility impairment from MD to CP
-Various timed button pressing makes using voice activation software difficult and mandatory
-Game cannot be played with only the keyboard or only the mouse
-Extremely limited customization of the UI
-Button mashing
-Difficulty navigating skill tree and other menus, impossible with only the mouse
Recommended store 2 out of 10


-Subtitles are available
Recommended score 9 out of 10


-Small fonts
-Inability to select colors or font sizes of the UI
-Frequent situations where white text is used on white backgrounds
-Frequent miscellaneous situations where indicators are relatively small and easily missed.
Recommended score 4 out of 10

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About the Author
Steve Spohn
Author: Steve Spohn
Steve Spohn is the Editor-in-Chief of AbleGamers & Outreach Chair for the Foundation. He is an expert in gaming with disabilities and assistive technologies and can be seen on MSNBC, CNN, G4 and more.

People in this conversation

  • Guest (shilka)

    I noticed there are some errors in your review that could use editing.<br /><br />- there is a mouse sensitivity slider for looking around in the settings menu, no need to change this via ini file editing. (also mentioned in the game manual)<br /><br />- incredible slow mouse movement in menu's is caused by having xbox controller checked in the options while not having one attached. Uncheck the xbox controller option in settings if you're using mouse/keyboard only and your mouse speed in menu's will increase drastically.<br /><br />- navigating menu's with mouse only is definately possible (though I agree cumbersome)<br /><br />- There are several subtitle options in the settings menu, there's no need to use console commands for this (also mentioned in the game manual)<br /><br />- Since subtitles can be perfectly enabled in the settings menu, without using any console commands, there's no reason at all to suggest that bethesda considers using subtitles to be cheating. <br />Even if it had been a console command only, I'd still highly doubt turning on subtitles would be considered as cheating by anyone, let alone by the developer who actively put this in as a valid console command.<br /><br />I hope this is helpful to some of you :-)

  • Thanks for the tip about subtitles. The option was not there in Steam on day one or I simply missed it. I have edited the score based on the new information.<br /><br />However, your other points are only partially met with. There is a look sensitivity, but it is capped at a relatively low level. In order to edit a level beyond the slider, you must edit the .ini. (Never in the manual, but common if you have these types of programs)<br /><br />The Xbox Controller glitch was fixed, supposedly, but unchecking the option does not bring the cursor speed up to the same speed as set in Windows. This is because they use their own drivers for the mouse instead of leaning on Windows drives. (Game knowledge not in the manual)<br /><br />Navigating the menus is only possible if you could use extra buttons on the side of the mouse or the mouse wheel. It is not possible to navigate the full menu of carriage rides, equipment that goes beyond one screen, or npc interaction without using the mouse wheel or the keyboard. (Unless you use VAC as many of us do.)<br /><br />As for the console, I stand by my original statement. Although I was wrong about a subtitle option being included; my original statement about needing to use the console to lock pick stands. It is Cheating to use the console command in any game whether it's Skyrim, SimCity or Zelda.

  • As far as I know steve is correct. (You can get quite stuck in menus in general btw.) I could not find a way to get out of sub menus with the default bindings. For example: You are crafting armor, and you pick imperial. Going back into the main material selection tree was not possible without using back or tab.<br /><br />To be fair I only played a few hours on day one, and did not read the manual.

  • I was pretty surprised to see the lockpick mechanic change. The new system is essentially just a reskinning of the mechanic in FO3/NV. I would have assumed Bethesda would recycle the (mouse-only friendly) system from Oblivion.

  • Man the Fanbois do not like when us gamers with disabilities look at a game from our eyes, and not come to the conclusion that it rocks...<br /><br />Skyrim is a fun game, it is very well done, it is just not that accessible, deal with it Fanbrats.

  • As of the 1.2 patch, fMouseCursorSpeed=1.0000 was added to the SkyrimPrefs.ini - edit it as high as you like to improve mouse cursor speed.

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