Explore a completely open-world fantasy epic filled with ancient dragons, Daedric princes and more in the fifth installment of The Elder Scrolls. Bethesda changed the gaming world after dropping its announcement trailer in 2011. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim may be their greatest masterpiece. Prepare yourself for Alduin with this detailed Skyrim review.
|Type of game:||Open-world RPG|
|Developer:||Bethesda Game Studios|
|Total Play Time:||30-100+ hours|
|System Requirements:||CPU: Intel® Core i3 / AMD A6 2.4Ghz
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 / AMD Radeon HD 5750. OpenGL 3.3
OS: 64-bit Windows Vista or newer
HDD Space: 6GB
The World of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The world of Skyrim is vast and a player could easily lose themselves for hundreds of hours within the game’s content. This review will cover the atmosphere, characters, story and expandable content. Skyrim is rated M for mature due to blood and gore, intense violence, sexual themes and use of alcohol.
Atmosphere & Location
The province of Skyrim is mountainous and vast, making travel by foot, or even horseback, difficult at times. A player will find every area richly detailed with foliage, environmental sound effects and wildlife. There is incredible attention to detail at defining the nine holds which make up the political landscape, with each hold in a topographically unique landscape with varying socioeconomic backgrounds and livelihoods.
Another great feature is that this world is far from a beautiful empty painting to explore. The world of Skyrim is filled with life. Players will encounter everything from mundane wildlife like butterflies, fish and deer all the way up to the fantastical dragons, giants and Daedric tombs throughout the land. And the wildlife feels alive, too. The Dragons won’t sit and wait for the Dovahkiin to come slaughter them, but fly across the land, sometimes even attacking cities.
The music has become iconic in its own right, and for good reason. Video game super-composer Jeremy Soule created the awe-inspiring music of Skyrim. The empowering and thoroughly epic main theme, titled Dragonborn, was created by using a 30-man choir and layered 3 times to give the effect of 90 barbarians singing. But the high-quality doesn’t end there, the voice acting and environmental sound design are also incredibly polished. You won’t often hear the same voice actor do the multiple NPCs.
Skyrim takes place 200-years after the end of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which means an entirely new cast of characters need to be presented to the player. Although there are well over a hundred characters throughout the game, each character is fully realized and completely fleshed out with backstory, daily tasks and personalities. It may seem a bit overwhelming to keep track of these new faces. However, there are really only a handful of relatively important characters to keep track of:
- Alduin: This large and powerful dragon is prophesided to destroy all men and consume the world.
- Dovahkiin: The last of the Dragonborn and also the player’s character who has something to say about Alduin’s plans. Players will choose from one of several races, sets of skills and even their gender. All of which affect how the game plays.
- Greybeards: A peaceful and ancient order who can use a form of magic which utilizes Dragon Shouts. As the Dovahkiin, the player will want to meet the Greybeards to gain new shouts and abilities.
- Blades: Former dragon hunters and protectors of the Emperors of Tamriel, but now only two remain. The player can choose to assist the Blades in recruiting new members and even use them to investigate the dragons.
- Stormcloaks and Imperial Legion: Two factions caught in a vicious civil war for control of the Skyrim political landscape. The player can choose which side to help, which greatly affects the world and their quests.
- Jarls: Each of the holds that make up Skyrim are governed by these officials. Jarls can grant titles and residences to the player.
Imperial Legion guards throw the player into the action immediately in Skryim, beginning the game as a prisoner of the en route to Helgen for a beheading. The developers then kick the drama up to 11 destroying Helgen with the great Dragon Alduin. At this point, the story of Skyrim is up to the player to decide. Depending on how they flee for their life and the actions they take after, the story can be dramatically different from one player to the next.
By the time the player has escaped, they know about two warring factions in the Stormcloak Rebellion. If the player aids a fellow prisoner in escaping, they’ll find themselves seeking the leader of the Stormcloaks, Ulfric Stormcloak, who asks for help taking back control of Skyrim. Escape with the help of an Imperial Legion guard Hadvar and he will ask the player to help stomp out the rebellion.
In addition to these epic main quests, Bethesda Softworks filled the world with countless other side-quests and dungeons to explore. In truth, players can put 100 hours into the world of Skyrim without ever meeting the Greybeards or resolving the Stormcloak Rebellion. There’s always just one more cool Daedric tomb, bandit hideout, a task for an NPC, or even faction quests to become sidetracked with. If that isn’t enough, players can grab the available DLC or mods to continue their experience.
DLC & Expansion Packs
The action in Skyrim doesn’t have to end after you’ve dumped over a hundred hours in quests, either. If the idea of starting a new character with new skills doesn’t appeal to you, the game can be further extended with one of three add-ons developed by Bethesda Softworks, or an endless amount of player-created modifications.
- Dawnguard: Introduces the Volkihar, a family of vampires that stalks the world, and the Dawnguard, expert vampire hunters. Players get to choose which side to join forces with.
- Hearthfire: Allows players to build and customize a home from raw materials found in the world. Players can populate their home with guards, musicians and even their own children.
- Dragonborn: The first of the Dragonborn has become corrupted and wants to take over the world. Players will also learn to ride dragons with this addon.
At the end of this Skyrim review, we are left with one of the greatest open-world RPGs of all time. Everything about this game is considered a masterpiece, whether you only focus on how richly developed the game’s environment is or the strong emotional tie you’ll have to either the Stormcloaks or the Empire. Years after playing, you’ll still have opinions about Parthanax, Ulfric Stormcloak and even Lydia. Skyrim is much more than an enjoyable game, but an experience a player can invest hundreds of hours into. And now, with versions of the game released on every device you could hope for, including the Nintendo Switch, it’s easier than ever. How did you feel about the game? Are there any must-experience side-quests you’re worried another reader might miss? Be sure to share any experiences, thoughts and questions.