So many months ago, I wrote an RPG Monthly on the gem that is TES IV: Oblivion. Now, with the Remastered version released worldwide, I thought it was fitting for this month’s to be the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. *WARNING. MAY BE MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD*
As I said in the Oblivion article, for Christmas in 2011, I received Oblivion, Dark Souls, and Skyrim. Skyrim was the game that encouraged me to want both of the ES installments. I’d never played a real open world RPG, and after seeing the E3 footage, I was dying to play it. For the first few months of owning both, I think I played Skyrim more than Oblivion.
What took me aback at first was how astounding and beautiful the game looked. Most of the RPGs I’d played were fairly old, so when I sat down with this brand new game, it looked amazing. The water flowed downstream, the grass swayed in the breeze. The graphics were like something I’d never seen before. The graphics stood out the most, in my opinion, when it rained or snowed. Seeing the individual raindrops or snowflakes falling past your face and splashing on the ground, as clouds formed overhead and thunder crashed above – it set a new standard for me on how games should look, and was a huge introduction into what future games would be like.
Following on from that, one of the reasons I loved Skyrim so much, and still do, is how real it felt. Animals would stroll around towns or in the wilderness, hunting in packs or grazing with their herd. Camps of giants would tend to their mammoths, and stomping their feet and clubs at any threats. NPCs would get on with their lives as real people would, and showed emotion when talking to you; During the side quest to fix the love triangle in Riverwood between the characters Sven, Faendal and Carlotta, I chose to side with Sven (I didn’t know who Faendal was at the time, and didn’t meet him until after). After this, every time I encountered Faendal, he greeted me with anger and disgust, because I’d helped Sven instead of him. It all felt real, and I loved that about the game.
The gameplay, similarly to Oblivion, was pretty simple and easy to grasp. However, the combat had improved since Oblivion, with new features available. Players could now dual wield one-handed weapons, allowing rogue, sneaky characters to fit the role even better. Alongside this, magic was now wielded in your hands, rather than in a bumper button (saved for powers and Dragon Shouts). This added even more possibilities for players to try, such as dual wielding magic and magic, or magic and weapon. It felt smoother to swing your weapons, and flowed better during battles. Couple this with the new Dragon Shouts, which added a new dynamic to the games – you could hit someone with a last blast of wind and send them flying, breathe fire or ice, and even summon a dragon – and combat became even better than before.
But my favourite thing about Skyrim, the one reason I come back to the game after years of playing it, is the same reason I go back to Oblivion now and again; the freedom it gives. In Oblivion, while you could use anything you wanted, you were made to pick a class for the kind of play style you wanted, so you usually played in that style; if you picked Assassin, you’d use the skill trees you were given such as sneak and archery; if you were a mage, you’d use the magic skills such as Destruction or Conjuration.
In Skyrim, the class system is gone, allowing you to experiment with anything and everything, and not feel locked into certain skills. Sure, you only had a finite number of perk points, so couldn’t really become an all-round murderer, but you could use all kinds of methods until you found a combination that you enjoyed. The game lets you play any way you want. If you want to be a good guy and hero who goes around saving everyone, go for it. If you want to be a semi-evil guy who prefers stabbing their way across the country, then you do you. Hell, you could buy a house in Whiterun, become a blacksmith or some other NPC-style profession and do that till the end of your days, and no-one would stop you. Skyrim lets you play any way you want, and live out most fantasies you may have as a fan of medieval-fantasy, which is why I love the game and always come back to it.
Do you enjoy Skyrim? If you do, lets talk about it in the comments and discuss what you like about it, or even dislike about it. If you haven’t tried it yet, I would definitely recommend you do, especially with the Skyrim Special Edition now available on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. With the added bonus of mods on console, the lifetime of your Skyrim playthrough will increase even more (mine certainly has).