Probably one of Bethesda’s greatest games yet, the open world RPG Skyrim is still one of the best games you can buy if you’re looking for a fantasy adventure game. In its first week of release in 2011, it massed over 20 million copies sold, so that’s over 20 million sweetrolls stolen!
The game is set 200 years after the events of its prequel, Oblivion. It takes place in Skyrim, hence the name of the game, where two factions, called the Stormcloaks and the Imperial Legion, are fighting for political power. The Imperial Legion, as you saw in Oblivion are the Emperor’s guards, whereas the Stormcloaks are Skyrim’s native Nord race, and you will end up joining and leading one of these factions by the end of the game. You start by being caught up by mistake in a line-up of beheadings, unluckily for you. Luckily for you, and then not so luckily for others, a dragon attacks, setting fire to the town of Helgen and allowing your escape. It is here your journey truly begins, as you travel through the world of Skyrim, following one of the two factions. You soon discover you are one of the fabled dragonborn after defeating your first dragon (surprisingly easily) outside of Whiterun. From there, it is up to you how you play the game, as I exclaimed in my Oblivion article, this is the thing everyone loves about these open world games. Personally, before carrying on with the main storyline I go and visit all the main cities in the game and do some side-quests to level a bit and add some fast travel locations to the map, but again, it is entirely up to you.
Skyrim takes a lot of the gameplay from Oblivion, so if you played the prequel then you will have no problem getting to grips with this one. The same races are included in this game with a couple more customisation options and the levelling system is still the same, working your way through the now 18 skills until you level and can choose a skill from the skill tree. The health system is still the same and so is the mana system, with the change of spells, but the addition of a stamina system is something a lot of players enjoyed seeing. Not only did it make combat more fair, it allowed the use of sprinting, which makes you wonder why your character in the earlier games wouldn’t go faster than a light walk. In terms of your inventory and what you can put into it, there has been a massive upgrade since Oblivion. The set out is still the same, but the range of items is like a whole new world, or region if you’re going to be pedantic. The types of food available is massive, with ingredients to cook your own, the range of clothing is extensive and you will never run out of new weapons to slay your foes with. You may also find yourself picking up items like leather and iron ingots but don’t worry, these aren’t useless sellable items with the introduction of the new crafting system, it’s no wonder they want to combine this game with Minecraft. You now can create your own weapons through the use of smelting and ‘blacksmithery’ if you don’t have enough to buy them, and not only this but you can actually level from this with the smelting skill. Spamming iron daggers, here we come!
The new combat is also amazing and is very different from earlier games in some aspects. The basics are very much the same, I mean there’s not a lot you can do with the right trigger. But some new ideas have been introduced and they work like a dream, for example the idea of duel wielding, which is not only the case with weapons, but with spells as well. So you can wombo-combo and skeleton with a fireball and then a sword to the face. The spells have also had an upgrade, with more powerful and more interactive spells so if you decide to choose the mage route you will never find yourself getting bored and finding combat repetitive. For the archers in the game, which we know there weren’t a lot of in Oblivion, it has been changed loads. There are much more skills down the archery line that allow you to have more fun sniping people with arrows from hundreds of meters away, and if you want to walk right up behind someone and plant a stealthy arrow in the back of their head. The new stamina bar makes combat a lot more fair, because you can’t just keeping swinging and hoping now, you have to aim your strikes so they land, or it’s a waste of a chunk of your stamina. This is especially appropriate for those playing on the hardest difficulty, because you become much less effective when your stamina is low, allowing less jumping, dodge and sprinting.
The world of Skyrim, you will discover as you traverse it, is a beautiful and expansive one. It is mostly a snowy and mountainous world, with many dungeons and caves for you to discover, but there are some lower forested areas waiting for you to enter and many streams and rivers to cross. The cities you will find are all different in their own ways with some of the many guilds hiding out in them. You have Riften where you can meet and join the Thieves Guild, Whiterun, the city for Dragonsreach and then there is Solitude, home of the High King of Skyrim. Each city has its own stores and many residents that all welcome you to speak to and some will even offer once in a lifetime quests for you to complete for ludicrous awards. You may also buy a house from any of the Jarls after completing certain requests from them and earning their trust, so you have a place to rest and store your valuables you don’t like taking with you on quests.
Bethesda have pulled off another great game again, and this time they have easily beaten all the records and standards they have ever set. Personally, I’m surprised they haven’t already started on an Xbox One version or even a sequel because it’s easy to see how games like these sell so much, and with an estimated play time of over 300 hours as well! All I request to people who have enjoyed this game as much as I have, STOP MAKING ARROW IN THE KNEE JOKES!