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The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
Book Name: Skyrim
Publisher(s): Bethesda Game Studios
Formatt: PS3, XBOX, PC
Genre(s): Fantasy RPG
Release Date: October 2011

And so it has arrived. Skyrim. For those unfamiliar with the Elder Scrolls series, basically, they are role playing games that sit at the very forefront of the genre. Each time a game in this series is released, the world holds its breath because collectively we know that the game is going to be something very, very special. The games have in fact been so popular that its developers, Bethesda Game Studios, have taken the Game of the Year awards for the previous titles both in 2006 and in 2008.

So, what is Skyrim and why is it so popular? Well, essentially Skyrim is a game that looks to put you into the role of a character within a fantasy realm. Now, that in itself is not all that unique, in fact, it is relatively common. Final Fantasy, Gothic, Neverwinter Knights, Dragon Age, Diablo and Baldur’s Gate are just some examples of role playing games in the fantasy genre. What the Elder Scrolls series does so well though is immerse the player so deeply in the world that hours can truly begin to feel like minutes. When you step into the world of the Elder Scrolls games, quite literally you take on the role of the character and are immersed within his or her world. For a game to have that effect is very, very rare.

Skyrim (banner)

The only game I can think of in fact that steals hours away from you to the extent that the Elder Scrolls games do is World of Warcraft. Unlike World of Warcraft though, the Elder Scrolls series has never tried to become a massively multiplayer online type game. It is a solo experience, which seeks to draw a single player so deep into the game that they forget themselves. This is achieved through a number of relatively unusual elements within the game.

First of all, it is mainly played through the first person viewpoint. This is perhaps the key to why the games are so successful. You see what your character sees, all the action is close up and you see just your hands holding whatever it is you are holding. This certainly adds to the tension as you turn a corner and see a zombie running towards YOU rather than a third person character you are controlling. Secondly, the scope of the game – and no, we are not just talking about side quests. In the Elder Scrolls games, you can do whatever you like, whenever you like. You can be a noble human warrior who just wonders around, killing evil things and leveling up or alternatively, you could be a reptilian creature that breaks into houses at night by picking the lock, stealing all the inhabitants belongings and tearing off into the night…the choice is yours.

SKYRIM-SkeletonsThere is however a main storyline, and that brings me now to Skyrim, as opposed to the Elder Scrolls. The storyline in Skyrim basically sees you as a person (human, feline, reptilian, orc, elf – you decide!) within a world where extinct dragons seem to be reappearing around the world. The best part about this? It will eventually be your job to kill the pests. That being said, they are about ten times your size, breath fire and have a blood lust that is pretty much unmatched, so don’t get too ahead of yourself. This is a game with over 100 hours of gameplay and killing dragons will be something you work towards!

Your first sight of these dragons though, will be right at the start of the game. You are being towed on the back of a wagon and all around you is beautiful, beautiful scenery – a world just waiting for you to explore it. It seems though, you won’t have much time to do that, because as one of the others on the wagon tell you – you are on your way to be beheaded. Yes, you have done something very, very wrong.

You don’t know what, and neither really does anyone else really. It seems to have been forgotten along the way. However, when you arrive, they decide that they are going to behead you anyway, just so you can’t do it again…best to be safe and all that! You watch your friend get beheaded first, some great CGI really makes you grit your teeth as you take that slow walk to the block, kneel down, turn your head to the left and see that massive axe coming down to decapitate you. But, before the executioner can do it ‘BOOK!’ there he is – The Dragon sitting there, on top of the tower. He unleashes a mighty breath that throws the town into turmoil and allows you not only to escape, but begin your adventure.

The gaming experience is one that I have to say personally is unmatched. I have already described to you the beautiful visuals and the fantastic ability to explore these within the first person, but the way that you progress through the quests is just phenomenal. There is just so much to do – from thieve quests, to mage quests, to necromantic quests, variety in abundance – and again, pretty much whatever you want to do or be, you can do or be.

SKYRIM-DRAGONPersonally, I liked the idea of being a stealthy thief. So, when I am asked by a non-playing character to go an kill someone who is threatening them, rather than storming in and bludgeoning them to death, I will approach the area, scope it out a little and work out the character/creatures movements patterns. I will then use my sneaking ability to sneak up on them, assassinate them and get the heck out of there because my health is relatively low. I’m not here to risk my life and kill people I don’t need to kill. I kill only for the money, the sweet reward. That being said, my friend plays as a warrior. When he gets that same contract, he approaches the location of his target, wades in, killing first his five friends, stands toe to toe with the guy and before leaving, takes his time to search the entire house. He then takes a slow walk back to collect his reward.

See the variety and the scope this game offers you? And that is just a small example. I think the fact that each individual has a gaming experience that is completely unique to them is the big draw of this game. Of course, there is a main storyline, this is essential, because it allows you to progress through the game.

SKYRIM-DRAGON-CITYOriginally starting out as a man about to be killed, you find out that you are a ‘dragonborn’, this means that you have the echo of a dragons soul within you and therefore the answer to ridding these dragons from the world is liked closely to you. As the threat of the dragons increases and the potential end of the world draws near, you will become more and more important to the people of Oblivion (the world Skyrim is set).

The theory is that we as fantasy fans are nostalgic, looking to return to a world we think would be damned cool to live in. We dream of being that individual that the world relies on, we want to be the guy that saves those fair maidens from terrifying villains and yeah, we want to kill a dragon or two. Skyrim allows us to do this and believe it to a currently unrivalled extent. If you are a fan of fantasy and you want to get as close as possible to living the life of a character within a fantasy setting – this is the game for you.



  1. Avatar Paul Wiseall says:

    Great review dude. I absolutely love this game.
    I usually go for the stealthy types but for this game I chose to go the route of the Battle Mage and I wasn’t disappointed at all. The magicka options are phenomenal.

  2. Avatar Overlord says:

    Hahaha, Yeah – Battlemage was tempting… Flame in one hand, Sword in the other! 😀

  3. It has indeed arrived! I haven’t seen my husband in over a week! He’s obsessed with it…and burrows himself away in the study for hours on end.

    I’ve not got my hands on it yet, but am enjoying all the extra peace & quiet I get to read 🙂

  4. I’ve had to rig up a list of chores with corresponding Skyrim time as currency to stop me overplaying it. What a game! I bought Assassin’s Creed Revelations at the same time and haven’t even opened it yet!

    Good job on the sneaky type – I’m an Imperial assassin but looking to join the Dark Brotherhood and Thieve’s guild in order to enhance my sneak skills.

  5. Avatar RSAShark says:

    I have to wait for my bonus next week to buy and xbox so that I can play it. Dammit.

  6. Good review. I concur with all the points, it really is a spectacular piece of gaming design. I originally started off playing as a battle-mage kind of character, got to about lvl 24 and wanted to reroll a new character because I knew the world (and the game mechanics) a bit better and realised I kind of crippled my character with bad perk choices.

    So now I’m playing an assassin. All my perks are going into ‘Sneak, Archery, and One-handed.’ To avoid doing the same quests as the mage, I headed straight for Riften, joined the thieves and I’m currently going through all their quests. When this done it’s onto the Dark Brotherhood and the Daedric quests. It’s so much fun playing a sneaky thief. It’s great to be able to one-shot enemies while sneaking about with a bow. And also a lot of fun picking the locks of houses at night, and stealing everyone’s heirlooms and coin purses! Muhhaha.

    The beauty of the game is that no one persons’ experience is the same. Out of a group of 4 of my mates none of them have gone the same direction, and each week, when we meet up, it’s always interesting to discuss ‘our week in Skyrim’ and realise just how varied our experiences are with it.

    This is a modern classic IMO, and the DLCs will make this relevent for years to come. I’m rambling now, so I’ll shut up.

  7. Avatar Kit says:

    I, too, play the stealthy type, but I just passed level 30, so my health and stamina are pretty high while my magicka is non-existent. If you’re looking to do the stealthy stuff, I definitely recommend getting in with the Thieve’s Guild; you get a sweet set of armour from the questline there, that’s all light and is pretty awesome when it comes to helping out with sneak, lockpick and pickpocketing.

    I’m also an archer, which is totally new for me. But my character is now able to get x3 damage from bows while sneaking, so … We do a lot of damage. It’s pretty awesome.

    (I play on my PC, and I have about 70 hours logged so far. If anyone needs any new Steam friends, my SN is sisterites! Feel free to add me!)

  8. Avatar JC Benes says:

    I agree with the review. I must say that it is the most impressive game that I have ever played. Skyrim however isn’t located in Oblivion, Oblivion took place in Cyrodiil. They are both located in Tamriel.

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