‘Skyrim: Anniversary Edition’ is expected to break a bunch of existing mods

By Kirk McKeand (GLHF)

A new edition of Skyrim is launching this November, marking the 9,999th time the legendary RPG has been relaunched. This time, it comes prepackaged with a bunch of mods and small tweaks, such as the ability to go fishing in its raging rivers. 

All in all, it comes with 74 mods, ranging from new quests to items, armor, and even houses for your character to live in. It’s Skyrim, but more, basically. 

Unfortunately, it looks like it could also be Skyrim, but less, at least for a while. The modding scene for the game has always been huge, and it looks like the new edition could break many existing mods for an unspecified amount of time. The modding community will likely fix them to make them compatible with the new version, but it seems like they have a lot of work ahead of them to do so. 

The news comes via Redditor ‘extrwi’, who says the change will happen when the Anniversary Edition — which comes as a free, automatic download on PC for those who own the Special Edition — launches. They are advising modders to back up their files ahead of the change. 

“The upcoming Anniversary Edition of Skyrim is going to be much more disruptive to the modding scene than is commonly believed,” extrwi posted to the Skyrim Mods subreddit. “Back up your executable now, and disable updates in Steam.

“As part of the AE update, Bethesda has decided to update the compiler used to build the 64-bit version of Skyrim from Visual Studio 2015 to Visual Studio 2019. This changes the way that the code is generated in a way that forces mod developers to start from scratch finding functions and writing hooks. 

“Plugins using the Address Library will need to be divided into “pre-AE” and “post-AE” eras. Code signatures and hooks will need to be rewritten. We will all need to find functions again. The compiler’s inlining behavior has changed enough that literally a hundred thousand functions have disappeared and been either inlined or deadstripped, to put it in perspective.

“Doing this work takes a reasonable amount of time for each plugin. I can probably sit there over a few nights and bang out an updated version of SKSE, but my main concern is for the rest of the plugins out there. The plugin ecosystem has been around long enough that people have moved on, and code is left unmaintained. Effectively everyone who has written a native code plugin will need to do at least some amount of work to support AE. This realistically means that the native code mod scene is going to be broken for an unknown length of time after AE’s release.”

The modder also reached out to Bethesda with their concerns, and they claim Bethesda confirmed their assumptions. 

Written by Kirk McKeand on behalf of GLHF


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