Though released in 2011, “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” remains a household name among gamers, standing as one of the most beloved RPGs. According to the game’s creator, Todd Howard, as of November 2016, it had sold over 30 million copies, a testament to its enduring popularity. The game’s endless open-world system has undeniably captivated players.
“The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” has successfully maintained a high Metacritic score, outperforming Bethesda’s subsequent game, “The Elder Scrolls Online,” by a significant 20%. While accolades from IGN and Gamespot abound, beneath its sturdy steel armor lie a few minor issues.
The overarching narrative unfolds as you, a prisoner of a player-chosen race (including Dark Elves, Nords, and Orcs), emerge in the Viking/Celtic-inspired icy mountainous region of Skyrim amidst a civil war. Attacked by a dragon (Alduin) during your execution, you collaborate with one side of the war (Ralof or Hadvar?) and are thrust into the land with no clear overarching plot, leaving your destiny in your hands.
While Skyrim offers meticulously designed stories in every city, each featuring 5 to 10 hours of engaging side quests, labeling it with a singular main storyline is subjective and dependent on the player.
The game presents about 6.5 lengthy storylines for exploration, with 3 responding to previous Elder Scrolls games like “Oblivion.” Half of the main story intertwines with the faction chosen during the aforementioned civil war, unless you align with the Empire or the Stormcloaks.
This narrative approach, in my view, earned Skyrim praise, allowing players to spend significant time weaving their character’s story, doing whatever they please.
However, the lack of a central storyline may cause Skyrim to lose some points, providing a great experience for independent players but potentially overwhelming those reliant on the game’s guidance.
Character customization retains its impact on gameplay, similar to previous Elder Scrolls titles, slightly altering the gaming experience. While you can modify the appearance of 10 distinct races to some extent, identifying the race is usually easy at a glance (standard skin tone, facial features, hairstyle, etc.).
Each race comes with a set of abilities, providing initial skills suitable for specific character types. For instance, Orcs can go into a berserk mode, enhancing their strength, making them more suitable for warrior roles.
However, racial choices don’t significantly affect your ability to access all quests in the game. Besides in-game customization, the Steam community, through the Skyrim Steam Workshop, offers thousands of modifications, contributing to Skyrim’s longer shelf life on Steam compared to consoles like Xbox 360 and PS3.
Game Mechanics in Skyrim:
The fundamental approach to building a character involves cultivating 18 unique skills, categorized into three subsets: Warrior, Mage, and Thief.
While some RPGs may pigeonhole players into specific character types, Skyrim employs a system allowing players to naturally progress in a way that suits their playstyle. Whenever a character engages in an activity related to these 18 skills, they gain experience points, eventually leveling up the skill after several uses.
Commendably, Skyrim makes players feel they are improving their skills while simply playing the game. However, skill progression is somewhat slow, struggling to keep pace with those who want to excel in specific areas quickly.
For example, a warrior focusing on heavy armor, two-handed weapons, and blocking cannot level up these skills at the rate they gain skill points, creating a sense of responsibility to spend points on skills they might not use.
This system is great for the curious, but those dedicated to their envisioned role may find it somewhat limiting. For new players, I recommend not only selecting the right race and combat type but also reading a beginner’s guide to Skyrim.
Skyrim features a user-friendly learning curve that gradually immerses players in its atmospheric world. While the main quests deliver excitement, the game’s extensive length can potentially overwhelm newcomers, as they may find themselves immersed in an endless array of side quests.