The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing open world video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It is the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls franchise, following The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on November 11, 2011.

The game’s main story revolves around the player character’s efforts to defeat Alduin the World-Eater, a dragon who is prophesied to destroy the world. Set two hundred years after Oblivion, it takes place in the fictional province of Skyrim, upon the continent of Tamriel, and features snow and ice-covered landscapes which includes mountains as well as an arctic climate.

The Elder Scrolls V- Skyrim is one of the most popular and highly acclaimed RPGs of this generation and has sold millions of copies.
The Elder Scrolls V- Skyrim is one of the most popular and highly acclaimed RPGs of this generation and has sold millions of copies.

Skyrim was developed using the Creation Engine, rebuilt specifically for this game. It received critical acclaim from many reviewers who praised its vast open world design and high detail, although some critics voiced their concerns about the game’s size and similarity to past games in the series.

Initial release date: 11 November 2011
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Series: The Elder Scrolls
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, MORE
Awards: VGX Award for Studio of the Year, MORE
Engine: Creation Engine, Havok
Designers: Todd Howard, Kurt Kuhlmann, Emil Pagliarulo, Bruce Nesmith

I was skeptical about this game. Many Bethesda games have been criticized for their glitches and bugs, which led to some bad reviews on other games in the Elder Scrolls series. I thought that Skyrim would be no different, so I avoided playing it for a while. I finally decided to give it a try, and I was proven wrong very quickly.

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The story starts off with your character being sentenced to be executed when you are suddenly saved by an unexpected event—a dragon attacks. From there, the story unfolds in many different ways depending on either your decisions or the order in which you do things.

You could play Skyrim for years without seeing all of it. The world is immense, with hundreds of towns and caves and mountain passes to explore, as well as a range of climates from arctic wastes to tropical jungles. The maps show almost more white space than they do land.

The snow-swept peaks of the Throat of the World are so tall that they scrape the underbelly of the sky, their jagged crowns shrouded in clouds. Wherever you go, whatever you do, there’s something new to see or explore just around the corner.

The Elder Scrolls V- Skyrim Review
The Elder Scrolls V- Skyrim Review

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The quest design is also superb, offering an impressive amount of variety in addition to its scope. You’ll probably spend most of your time exploring dungeons and ruins, but you’ll also spend time hunting trolls in snowy woods, escorting merchants through pirate-infested waters, mining for ore beneath a dwarven city, and even exploring a haunted mansion filled with ghosts. 

Some quests involve moral dilemmas or require you to choose sides in conflicts between warring factions or rival families in towns.

Gameplay

Skyrim is an open-world role-playing game (RPG) with a fantasy setting. You play as the Dragonborn, a person who is not only mortal but also has the blood of dragons flowing through his or her veins, which allows him or her to learn the ancient language of dragons and to use their magical power. You are thrown into this world that is full of political intrigue, magic, werewolves and vampires (or lycanthropes and vampires), dragons, plenty of quests, and more than enough loot to go around.

When you think about all the things that need to come together for an RPG to really work, the list is long. The narrative has to be engaging and make you feel like you’re part of this world, not just a visitor or a tourist. The combat needs to be complex without being overwhelming—different approaches to fighting should all feel viable, not just one or two. It has to deliver a sense of adventure and exploration without feeling aimless or directionless. 

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The quests have to be interesting enough without getting in the way of your own personal goals. Characters need depth and personality without hogging the spotlight from your own avatar. The menus need to be clear but easy to navigate so you can find what you want quickly. The environment needs to look great while still providing good visibility so you can spot monsters in the distance and navigate your surroundings easily.

Skyrim draws on the best aspects of previous Elder Scrolls games, cuts out what doesn’t work well, adds a lot of new ideas, and wraps it all up in an incredibly gorgeous package that’s more than capable of running on normal PC hardware. It’s also one of those rare games that lets you play how you want; a place where every choice feels meaningful, where you know there are always more possibilities waiting for you.

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Skyrim is a game that manages to make the player feel like they’re a part of a living world. From the moment you start creating your character, you’re given reams of information about the world and its people, from the races that inhabit it to their religions, politics, cultures, and history. 

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The characters you meet are not mere quest dispensers; they’re fully realized individuals with their own lives and goals. Granted, there’s plenty of fantasy-RPG nonsense–the dragons who attack you are more likely to talk than not–but even these moments are handled with an air of solemnity and grandeur rather than campiness or self-mockery. The game is built on systems, which at times can seem overwhelming. It’s easy to feel like you need to spend hours learning how blacksmithing works before you can make any headway in improving your weapons and armor; or that you have to stop what you’re doing and read up on the way enchanting works before you can do anything useful at an arcane enchanter table. 


There are so many menus and options available that it’s easy for them to become intimidating for players who just want to get out there and go on adventures. But there’s no need to be overwhelmed.

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Skyrim is one of those rare games where every system is not only comprehensible, but also gripping. Every arrow you fire feels powerful and every spell you conjure is full of purpose. Combat may be less enjoyable than in other games, like Dark Souls or Batman: Arkham City, but it’s still entirely satisfying and just as important.

If you want action-packed battles against dragons, vampires, and all manner of other supernatural creatures, Skyrim can more than deliver. But if you’d rather spend your time enjoying a variety of side quests or simply exploring the world at your own pace without worrying about getting attacked by more advanced enemies—you’ll never run out of exciting things to do.

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Skyrim eschews the last-gen open world formula, and creates a world that feels more natural and real than ever. The first thing nearly everybody will notice is the visuals. The game’s artists have created a world of jaw-dropping beauty, with mountain ranges and plains sweeping off into the distance. Hiking through mountain passes while watching the Aurora Borealis glow above you is one of the most breathtaking sights in recent gaming memory.

The fifth Elder Scrolls game feels like a refinement of everything that came before it. That’s not to say that there’s nothing new here, but the new things feel familiar.

You’re still wandering around a fantasy realm from a first-person perspective, picking locks, sneaking up on enemies and casting spells. The monsters you face are still mostly recognizable beasts like trolls and mammoths but with exaggerated features. It all feels familiar, as though you’ve been here before, but it’s also more refined and well realized than ever before.

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From the start, you can choose to play as any of ten races; each race has a unique power and set of bonuses that can be used to craft your character. You can be a sword-swinging Orc or a High Elf who prefers magic over melee. Want to be an adventurer who likes to sneak through shadows and pick locks? Go for it. Rather cast spells and summon undead minions? No problem. As you level up in Skyrim, you’ll unlock perks – special abilities that make your character more effective at their chosen skills.

Do you want to dual wield swords? Invest in one-handed weapons perks. Would you prefer to get behind the enemy and strike from the shadows? Sneak perks will help you do more damage without being seen. The perk system lets you define your character in any way you want, even if it means switching roles mid-game.

Storyline

The first thing you’ll notice about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is its graphics engine. It’s truly remarkable how much detail Bethesda was able to cram into their open world setting without sacrificing performance or stability. This game looks like it should cost twice as much as it does, but you won’t find any framerate issues or texture pop-in while exploring the vast landscapes that make up Skyrim. Even when there are hundreds of enemies on screen at once, things remain smooth and stable with no noticeable stuttering or slowdown issues whatsoever.

The way Bethesda has designed each area within Skyrim also deserves praise because each location feels unique compared to what came before it.

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Skyrim’s main story revolves around the player character’s efforts to defeat Alduin the World-Eater, a dragon who is prophesied to destroy the world. Set two hundred years after Oblivion, skyrim takes place in the fictional province of Skyrim, upon the continent of Tamriel, and the planet of Nirn.

The open world gameplay of Oblivion (and its expansions) are replaced by a primarily nonlinear storyline designed to accommodate any character build. Like previous titles in The Elder Scrolls series, skyrim does not require players to follow its main questline; instead they can choose to ignore it and explore the vast land at their own leisure.

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The main character, a prisoner of the Empire, is being led to his execution when a dragon shows up and ruins everyone’s day. After escaping, you set out to discover who you really are and what it means to be the Dragonborn–a hero who can speak the dragons’ language and use their power against them.

What follows is an adventure that’s vast enough to sprawl across a massive map (that’s four times bigger than Oblivion) but also dense with detail. And although it’s an open-world RPG, there are no filler quests here; you’re never sent off on a boring fetch or kill mission to help pad out your character’s experience level or counterbalance some other task you’ve undertaken.

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Everything feels pivotal to the story or world around you–even if it’s just rebuilding an old woman’s house so she can live there again. And because Skyrim has such a coherent internal logic and consistent visual style, it all fits together seamlessly even when you’re following two or three different quests at once, journeying from one end of the map to another.

The Verdict

If there’s a single word that sums up The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, it’s freedom.

Skyrim is a different beast entirely. It was designed from the ground up for consoles and then ported to PC, which means that it runs smoothly on modestly powered PCs while maintaining a level of detail impossible with previous titles in the series. 

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It’s also far more visually stunning than any previous TES game; Skyrim is filled with stunning vistas and incredible architecture that makes every city feel unique in its own way.

The Elder Scrolls series has always been about giving players the freedom to do what they want, and Skyrim is no different. You can explore the world as a warrior, mage or thief; join one of nine factions vying for control of Skyrim; or take advantage of hundreds of side quests that range from collecting butterflies to slaying dragons.

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Skyrim’s main storyline is surprisingly lengthy, but it’s hardly the only thing worth doing in this vast world. From the moment you step off the boat at Solitude and begin exploring the snowy tundra surrounding the city, you’ll be bombarded with opportunities for adventure. And each one leads to another quest line — some as simple as going into a nearby cave to retrieve an item or killing bandits along a path — which can stretch out into hours if you’re willing to take them on.

This contributes to the thrilling sense of freedom associated with life in Skyrim. Do a quest, kill a dragon, snatch torchbugs from the air, munch on butterfly wings or simply wander while listening to one of the best game soundtracks in recent memory.

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