By Jack O’Dwyer
The Dragonslayer – one of the biggest clichés in medieval fantasy. Most people picture a burly man in steel plate armor wielding a giant magical sword and standing triumphantly over a dragon’s corpse. It’s a recognizable image, albeit rather played-out, but what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if this hero was an elf, a sorcerer, an assassin, a werewolf, or even… A woman? How about a giant cat or a talking, water-breathing lizard? What if they were all these things at the same time? If they could breathe fire and ice by shouting with dragon blood pumping through their veins?
What if they could absorb the very soul of a dragon?
This description makes up the basics of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (TESV).
Skyrim was developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks on November 11, 2011 (11.11.11.) under a Mature rating by the ESRB. It is the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls game series and adheres to the mold as a single player, role-playing, open world fantasy game.
Since its release it has received numerous awards, including the VGX Award for Best RPG in 2011 and the Kerrang! Award for Best Video Game in 2012.
Over 23 million units have been sold – 7 million in the first week – producing more than $1 billion in total.
The main plot is rather straightforward. You are the “Dovahkiin,” the Last Dragonborn, with dragon blood in your veins and the innate ability to “Shout” like the dragons do. An evil dragon called Alduin has returned and is resurrecting his dead comrades to enslave the human world once again. As the Dragonborn, you are the only mortal capable of saving the world from falling into Alduin’s claws.
That, however, is the easy part.
Aside from the main quest there are multiple side quests, side questlines, and factions to join and climb the ranks of. Become a thief, an assassin, a werewolf, or all three!
With additional expansion packs added there are even more adventures to be had. Fight or join an ancient vampire coven in Dawnguard, build a homestead and adopt children in Hearthfire, or take out an enemy brought back from the dead in Dragonborn. Not to mention the hidden areas, Easter eggs, and unlockable challenges. The replay value of this game in endless – after all, I have 600+ hours logged at the time of writing.
Gameplay is balanced between unlockable perks and skill. Unlike other single player fantasy games, TESV lacks an auto-attack feature. Every click of your mouse or press of a trigger is one swing of your sword or arrow loosed from your bow. It’s up to you to know when to attack, bring up a shield to block, or take off running down the road.
As you battle and use certain weapons, your skill in that weapon levels and you are able to choose perks that allow you to do more damage or unlock certain skills.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about this game is the scenery. No, scratch that, it is definitely in the top three. Skyrim is a beautiful place from the frigid tundra in the north to the pine forests of the south. Even the dungeons are an incredible sight with their underground ruined cities and ancient Nordic carvings placed beautifully on the walls.
Not to mention the sky – the best part of the entire world – lit every night with colorful northern lights, bright stars, and two moons looming solemnly overhead that change phase every night.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is available on PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, and Playstation 4. There are several editions available from the base game to the Legendary Edition which includes all three available downloadable content packs.
This is definitely a game that you won’t regret dropping an extra $20-$30 on.