Word emerged last week that with a simple mod, owners of the Xbox Series X console were able to revisit The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, and to play it at full 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. The evidence looked compelling and I wanted to try it out – and once confirmed, I had a whole bunch of further questions I wanted answers to. Would the mod work on Xbox Series S? What about PlayStation 5? And as Fallout 4 also supports mods on consoles, I had to wonder whether there was any way to run the game at 60fps there, ahead of Microsoft’s official patch set to do the same thing?
The news of a working Skyrim 60fps mod first emerged on Reddit, courtesy of user annathetravelbanana, and looking into it, the story behind the mod doing what it does on Series X is intriguing. The original mod – known as Uncap FPS by Smudgey5000 – seems to be very old, and was actually designed for the original Xbox One. The way it works is to enable a higher frame-rate by disabling v-sync and removing the hard-set 30fps cap. On last-gen hardware, its effects and its overall usefulness are limited. On the intro cart ride, Xbox One X’s locked 30fps becomes 33-43fps with a lot of judder and tearing. I imagine it’s used in combination with other mods designed to improve frame-rate to push overall output higher. Regardless, on its own, it’s not particularly impressive.
The outlook is transformed on Series X thanks to the console’s backwards compatibility features. First of all, it’s worth stressing that once installed, Skyrim needs to be shut down and rebooted for the mod to kick in – and the improvement is transformative. Most of the game plays out locked at 60fps and the tearing brought about by the mod is completely gone. In effect, the Uncap FPS mod removes the 30fps limit, while the back-compat features in Series X enforce v-sync, giving a mostly flawless presentation. Yes, Achievements are disabled because you’re using a mod. However, this can be circumvented simply by disabling the mod and starting the game. Remember, the mod needs a reboot to engage – and it’s the same when disabling it.