An (Un)Biased Review of The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim

Map of The Empire of Tamriel
Map of The Empire of Tamriel | Source

Welcome to Skyrim!

The world of Tamriel is grand and its countries are fruitful. Heroes have come and heroes have gone, and you are the next champion to save Skyrim from the dragon menace that threatens the land. Armed with your might and an extraordinary destiny bestowed upon you, your journey to defeat Alduin, king of the dragons, begins.

You are dovahkiin. You are dragonborn. You must save the world.

The Elder Scrolls V - Skyrim is a game that takes you into an expansive world where dragons fly and civil war is brewing under the cloak of danger. The main story tells a tale of the eternal dragon Alduin and his quest to resurrect his dragon kin to destroy all of Tamriel. In the process, you are drawn into a civil war between two opposing forces, both fighting over who is the true ruler of Skyrim.

As you fight your way through dungeons, fortresses, and mountainsides, you can shape your character into whatever form you want: a stealthy thief, a barbaric warrior, a fiery mage, or a honey-tongued merchant. Is is all up to you.

Character creation in Skyrim can be both simple and complex, depending on the amount of work put into it. Even a simple concept of character appearance can be changed as small as eyebrow width or as large as weight. Similarly, class creation can be as intricate as you want it to be.

By just playing, the game will level your character up by your actions, but hardcore players have the ability to maximize level gains by choosing skill trees to focus on. And unlike in previous Elder Scrolls games, every skill is important in leveling up overall.Medial skills like alchemy, smithing, and speechcraft are just s important to character development as combat related skills.

Not only relying on gameplay, the landscape of Skyrim is huge and inviting. The scenery of the game transforms from lush green forests in the South to snow-covered mountains in the North. It can take hours to run or ride horseback across the entire map in Skyrim, but it is often a beautiful experience nonetheless.

One of the great parts of the game is the scenery, just walking out of a cave can overwhelm you with the beauty of the world around you, leaving you to look around in amazement. Not only is the overmap striking, many of the expansive dungeons have stunning layouts as well.

The Dark Brotherhood Wallpaper
The Dark Brotherhood Wallpaper | Source

Join a Guild or Fly Solo in Skyrim

Unlike many games today, Skyrim doesn't start or stop at the main quest: much of the possibly hundreds of hours of gameplay comes from alternate story lines and countless areas to plunder. Guilds, colleges, and companion groups all await your arrival into their midst, and often it is only the Dragonborn who can help the people of Skyrim with their numerous problems.

A few of the story lines are not so honest or honorable (like the Dark Brotherhood of Skyrim), but there are many that are noble as well. Much of the game demands you travel to distant areas to fight deadly enemies, but some requests are as simple as stealing valuable items from rich citizens. The faint of heart or the morally inclined need not apply for these, but fear not, those of moral character. The game is built for everyone of every kind of background. There is something for everyone, guaranteed.

The Elder Scrolls V - Skyrim is a beautiful game that takes countless hours to truly experience. There may be times that the objective at hand seems impossible, but with a little help, you can make it through.

Good Points and Bad Points

Some detailed info on the better aspects of the game, along with a few shortfalls.

Oblivion - Night Gate
Oblivion - Night Gate | Source

After Long Years of Waiting, We’ve Finally Arrived in the Medieval Realm of Skyrim

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the other games in the series, The Elder Scrolls series is known for providing vast expansive worlds with seemingly endless quests and objectives. Skyrim definitely continues on with this theme. With so much to do and almost endless replay value, it’s no wonder The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was one of the most anticipated games of 2011.

If you’re into swordplay, magic and medieval style realms, you’ll have no trouble delving deep within Skyrim. If you’ve played the previous game in the series (Oblivion) you’ll feel right at home. In fact, you might even feel like you’ve played it before.

Skyrim takes what Oblivion was and, in essence, re-writes and polishes it. IMO there’s actually nothing too incredibly different between the two. Being able to dual wield weapons and spells, dragon shouts, a slightly different leveling system, and obvious graphical updates are pretty much the only changes to the basic formula.

Then again, when you had such a winning formula with Oblivion, why would you change it?

Bend Will Dragon Shoyt
Bend Will Dragon Shoyt | Source

My Opinion on the Top Selling Points of Skyrim

The obvious selling point in Skyrim is the inclusion of dragons and dragon shouts. You won’t see a commercial for Skyrim that doesn’t focus heavily upon them.

Personally, I never had too much of a thrill with dragon encounters. They didn’t really strike me as those incredibly strong, difficult to deal with creatures they were made out to be. This may just be because in my first play through I was a mage and used ranged attacks on them, but in my encounters with dragons I never felt like I was in much danger.

Dragon Shouts were an interesting addition, but overall they did little to enhance the game. For a mage like me, dragon shouts were just a tiny extension of abilities I already had. It’s like having another magicka bar that refills way too slowly. Fire Breath and Ice Breath sound cool, but when you can already cast spells like Fireball and Blizzard, they lose quite a bit of their flair. Aura Whisper is almost exactly like Life Detect was in Oblivion. If Life Detect wasn’t so hard to find in Skyrim, Aura Whisper might not have much use at all. Marked For Death is a perfect example of a shout that sounds really awesome at first, but ends up having little coolness factor once you find out what it does.

If using Dragon Shouts weren’t necessary to complete the game, I might not have used them at all. I concede that a Dragon Shout might possibly get you out of a sticky situation, but I hardly ever found myself in one to begin with.

Skyrim Shadow of Mordor Battle Scene
Skyrim Shadow of Mordor Battle Scene | Source

Skyrim Combat Systems Are a Go!

The combat system overall is pretty solid, taking place in a first person view. I know, big difference from Oblivion, right? The good thing is most of the gripes arising from Oblivion’s combat system have been addressed. Combat is much more fluid, and people and creatures actually have weight to them. For those of you who are familiar with the first person style of combat, you’ll be right at home. I would go even further and say that FPS gamers won’t have any trouble settling in.

As far as the story goes, I found it a lot more immersive than previous iterations. Depending on the choices you make in-game, you can have a completely different storyline than a friend playing right next to you.

There is plenty of lore to explore, mainly through various books scattered throughout the world. The main quest lines touch upon such lore, but if you want to get even deeper into the background you have the opportunity. The fact that the extra story is there to see, but not forced, makes it that much more immersive.

People in general have better in-game dialogue and are much more believable. Skyrim might not have as big of a name as Patrick Stewart doing voice acting, but overall I found that characters had much more depth to them. You can have a different race and be a part of different factions and people will actually address you differently.

Break the Law in Elder Scrolls Online’s Thieves Guild DLC
Break the Law in Elder Scrolls Online’s Thieves Guild DLC | Source

Factions and Guilds

Familiar factions such as The Dark Brotherhood and The Thieves Guild make a return alongside others.

The Mage’s Guild and The Fighter’s Guild from Oblivion are noticeably long gone, but similar institutions have risen with their own backstories. Personally I like it better that way. Instead of being there just for the sake of being there like the guilds in Oblivion, their replacements have much more personality between them.

I enjoyed playing through their quests and thought they were more original, whereas in Oblivion it felt like I was just doing the motions.

Public Domain Image
Public Domain Image

My Overall Opinion of Elder Scrolls V Skyrim

Overall I was pretty satisfied with the game. It didn’t impress me as much as I hoped it did (I blame it on being over hyped), but it’s still an amazing game. There are so many things to do in Skyrim that if the combat system or storyline somehow doesn’t draw you in, the sheer amount of quests and items to loot will at least appeal to the pack-rat in you.

There is so much freedom to do whatever you want. Choose to join the Imperial Forces or join the Stormcloak Rebellion against them. Choose to help the little old lady with her crops or simply shoot lightning at her for being so annoying.

There’s no reason why this game won’t keep you entertained for months. Goodbye social life. Hello Skyrim.

Oh yeah, did I mention you can get married in game too? Girlfriends and boyfriends, beware. Skyrim –IS- their new significant other.

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