The Elder Scrolls series has held a special place in the history of roleplaying games since 1994. The fifth game in the series, 2011’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is far from an exception.
The most popular game in the series, Skyrim has gotten multiple DLCs as well as a 2016 Special Edition remaster. It even got a virtual reality release on Steam and PlayStation VR in 2017. So, let’s delve into what makes The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim so special.
In line with its high fantasy setting, the primary goal of Skyrim is for your character to save the world. Adluin the World-Eater has returned, and legend says it’s his destiny to destroy the world.
Luckily for the world, you’ve appeared. You’re a Dragonborn, a rare hero who can absorb the souls of dragons. This is the only real way to kill them, otherwise they simply rise again to terrorize people, cities, and villages.
While the main quest involves you attempting to locate and defeat Adluin, there is plenty else in Skyrim for you to get caught up in.
For starters, there are factions forming in the land of Skyrim. There’s Ulfric Stormcloak, who leads the Stormcloak faction. They fight for the freedom of the Nords, the native population of Skyrim. The Nords believe they should rule themselves rather than buckle under the yolk of the Empire. They chafe against the demands of the Thalmor, who ban the worship of the Nord god Talos. Joining their faction involves a series of quests that works to unseat the Imperials from Skyrim and seat Ulfric in its stead.
Meanwhile, the Imperials see Skyrim as one of its children with a faction currently throwing a temper. They believe that unity is what makes the Empire great. Siding with the Imperial Legion has you on an entirely different set of quests. These have you working to undermine and ultimately destroy Ulfric and the Stormcloaks.
Just how nuanced is Skyrim? You can even join one faction and betray them to join the other. Run with the Stormcloaks and decide you don’t support their cause? You have the ability to turn on them once you’ve gained their trust.
And this is just one example of many of the factions and complexities currently happening in Skyrim. You can become a vampire or a werewolf. You can join a league of mysterious assassins or help a decaying thieves guild return to its former glory.
While playing, your dialogue options also impact future quests and your relationships with others through the game. You can make connections that will give you a leg up later on. Conversely, you could murder entire villages, which makes finishing quests impossible.
You can do all this and much more without ever touching any of the many, many mods available. The mods are why many players choose the PC version over the console editions. Though, the consoles now also allow access to a large mod library as well.
And these mods get extensive. For example, while Skyrim doesn’t have a multiplayer option, there’s a mod in its beta testing phase to change that.
Combat mechanics are also incredibly versatile. You can switch to first- or third-person mode depending on how you’re most comfortable playing, and you can focus your battle style however you like.
If you’re the kind of person who prefers to sneak around and lay traps, there’s a specialization for that. If you prefer to wield magic or become an archer who picks off your enemies from a distance, you can do that, too.
Or if you’d rather get it over with and beat your enemies off with swords and sticks, the game has a path for you.
The core story in Skyrim doesn’t take very long to complete by most RPG standards, but getting caught up in the rest of what’s going on has most players spending more than 300 hours on it.
Technically, you could play the game forever and never stop. Some of the quests are radiant and loop forever, having no actual ending. You can get married and have kids, establishing homes in various cities or building one of your own with one of the official DLCs. Skyrim takes open-ended to a new level with its Fable-like ability to keep your interest long after the story is finished.
It’s hard to understate how strongly this game is loved, and for good reason. It’s been out since 2011, making it relatively inexpensive to pick up. And with its availability on the PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, it’s available to nearly any gamer. This is definitely one to pick up.