Maybe you’ve heard talk about a new game that is explicitly designed to adapt to your preferences and allow you to set and reach your own goals. Maybe you’ve heard of a game where nearly anything is possible, where the level of detail – both graphically and conceptually – is mind-boggling. Maybe you’re familiar with previous games in The Elder Scrolls series, two of which were designed by Bethesda Softworks, that set and rose the bar toward the same pursuit. Or maybe, like me, you’re already practically obsessed with Skyrim, their latest entry in one of the richest game series I’ve yet played.
What is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim all about?
Skyrim, like Oblivion and Morrowind before it, is a single-player Role Playing Game that focuses on elemental variety. One of the first things you’ll notice playing it is that almost everything can be picked up, stolen, or bought and sold for gold. You’ll likely next notice that you can’t possibly carry it all at once, but the point is that it serves to immerse you into the game world to the extent that everything seems doable, even if there’s no point whatsoever. In fact, that is the point: you create the game for yourself, and as a result, it’s like there’s no way to not enjoy it.
Skills and Perks
Like its predecessors, Skyrim features a wealth of skills and an intricate leveling system, but this time around, it’s been streamlined. The more you use a specific skill (such as wearing light armor, wielding two-handed blades, or sneaking around undetected), the more adept you become at it, and the game levels your progress according to your growth in those areas. Since there are 18 skills, this would already provide for a lot of game; however, as you level each individual skill, you can also unlock a web of specialized perks relating to it, ensuring that your game experience will change over time in a rewarding and effective way.
The gameplay itself is just as rewarding as the leveling process. You construct your character from one of a handful of races and a good array of individual characteristics, and each race has special abilities specific to it (for example, Argonians can breathe underwater). This choice can dictate your gameplay strategy if you’re looking to optimize your character, but it can just as easily be chosen at random for an enjoyable game experience.
A big change in Skyrim is that weapons and spells may now be dual-wielded, allowing for powerful combinations. This comes in handy against more specialized opponents. If magic is your fancy, you can wield it against opponents or use it to disappear or convert iron into gold. If hard labor is your fancy, you can actually mine those various types of ore throughout the game world. If stealth is your style, you can sneak around and revel in silent stealth kills with a dagger or a bow. Pretty sweet. You’ll also encounter dragons at random and shout at them, which can prove untimely but always ultimately cool.
The lore around the series is indeed astounding. There are books scattered around everywhere that contain actual text, and some books contain hints about quests or characters or even teach you a skill. The storyline of the game centers around empire and conquest, and the effect of racial, religious, and ideological differences on forcefully integrated societies. For me, one of the most rewarding aspects of the game is exploring this dimension of detail, since the designers draw some astute parallels between the game world and real human history.
The graphics alone make Skyrim a revolutionary game. Squeezing every drop of power out of the consoles (and allowing for mind-blowing performance on high-end PCs), the game’s lighting, shading, and textures are all spot-on. Although getting too close to some edges can sometimes reveal pixelation on the consoles, this is instantly offset for me by their myriad intricate variety throughout the game world.
Simply put, I give Skyrim 10 out of 10 stars, and I won’t be putting it down anytime soon.