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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review

Written by Paul, edited by Wenxi
Fus Ro Dah!

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Release Date: Oct 27, 2016
Genre: RPG

Why Skyrim is Praised by Gamers

Despite its release years ago in 2011, Skyrim is still been synonymous with gamers as a household name among popular RPGs. The game boasts having over 30 million copies sold as of November 2016, according to the game’s creator Todd Howard. No doubt, it attracted players through an endless, open-world, system. 

Skyrim manages to keep a solid Metacritic score of 20% more than Bethesda’s follow-up game: Elder Scrolls Online. This game has many factors that contributed to its success, won achievements on IGN & Gamespot, but not without a few kinks in its steel forged armor.

The Overall Story/Plot

Similar to the other Elder Scrolls games, you begin as a prisoner of a race (including Dark Elves, Nords, and Orks) was chosen by the player who appears in the Viking/Celtic inspired tundra mountain region of Skyrim during the outbreak of a civil war.

After a dragon (Alduin) attack during your execution and a team up with either side of the civil war (Ralof or Hadvar?), you are thrown out into this land with no real overarching plot to be seen as you are in charge of carving your own destiny.

There are well-crafted stories to be found in the world, with each of the 9 cities each having approximately 5 to 10 hours worth of fun side quests to get done while you are traveling, but to say that Skyrim has one main story to accomplish depends on the player. 

In the world there are about 6 ½ longer stories for your character to quest with, 3 of which are callbacks to some of the older Elder Scrolls games like Oblivion. Half of the main story is found in the quests where you take a side in the aforementioned civil war except for the fact that you will side with the Empire or the Stormcloak Rebels.

This method of storytelling definitely earns Skyrim points in my opinion, since the amount of time you can put into weaving your character’s tale is quite epic doing whatever you wish.

At the same time, it loses points for not having one core narrative to follow, which for an independent sort of gamer is great, though if you rely too much on the game to tell you what to do and where to go, it can be easy to get overwhelmed.

Though I have to admit, the crafting system is one of the most expansive I have seen to date. You can visit the forge to upgrade your armor using materials looted from slain enemies. You can quickly fill up your inventory with entire sets of leather, iron, or fur apparels, or pick up one too many low-tier swords, axes, and maces.

Character Customization

Customization of your character does still factor into the game as it did in previous Elder Scrolls games and does alter gameplay slightly. You can alter the appearance of the 10 unique races to some degree, but it is normally always still readily apparent which race it is at a glance. (The standard profile skin tones, facial shape, hair etc.)

Also, the races each come with a variety of abilities in order to have some starting abilities that favor building into one type of character, such as how an Orc is able to go into a rage and increase their strength, making them suitable towards warrior types.

This doesn’t restrict you to become one sort of character however as each class is equally capable of becoming skilled in the many areas. Overall though, in the game, the race of your character matters little, and you will still be allowed to access each quest the game has to offer.

Besides just being able to customize your character, the Steam community has also gone above and beyond to give players thousands of Modifications to the game thanks to the Skyrim Steam Workshop.

In my opinion, it is thanks to the Modifications that Skyrim has managed to keep its Shelf Life on Steam running longer than the consoles it was on like the Xbox 360 and PS3.

Here’s some inspiration if you want to ramp up your adventures:

Watch Mojo’s Top 10 Must-Have Skyrim Mods

Skyrim’s Game Mechanics

The basic way of building a character comes from building on 18 unique skills that are divided into 3 subsections, dedicated to being a warrior, a mage, and thief.

While some RPGs of similar themes would make a player pigeonhole themselves into one kind of character, Skyrim uses a system that lets the player play in whatever way they are naturally comfortable.

While some RPGs of similar themes would make a player pigeonhole themselves into one kind of character, Skyrim uses a system that lets the player play in whatever way they are naturally comfortable.

Every time a character does anything involving any of the 18 skills they gain experience points in that skill, and can eventually level it up after a few uses. Just simply using a weapon to attack makes a character better at doing that without any extra effort on the player’s part, strategically speaking.

After getting enough of their skills to level up the character’s Average level will then increase as well and they will be rewarded with the chance to unlock new perks from the 18 skills, so long as their level is high enough.

While I must applaud Skyrim for making a player naturally feel like they are improving their skills by simply playing the game however they feel comfortable, I will say that the Skills level far too slow to keep up with people who only want to be good and some things.

For example, a warrior would only care about the skills heavy armor, two-handed weapon, and blocking. However, he cannot increase his skill level enough to make up for how quickly he is gaining perks, meaning he will feel obligated to spend them on skills that he doesn’t think he will use.

For explorative people, this is a great system, but for people who are focused on the role they wish to play, it can feel rather neutered. If you are a new player, I’d suggest reading up on a beginner’s guide to Skyrim aside from choosing the right class and combat type.

Dragonborn, Dragonborn
by his honor is sworn
To keep evil forever at bay!
And the fiercest foes rout
when they hear triumph’s shout,
Dragonborn, for your blessing we pray!

Skyrim has an easy learning curve that feels natural and builds the right kind of atmosphere over time. The main quests are exciting in of themselves though you do get bogged down by side quests due to the sheer length of this game as it may seem endless to new players.

(Disclaimer, these scores assume the use of the Steam Workshop for in-game texture or interactive mods.)

While it is an old game, Skyrim still aged quite well. I would describe it as immersive and widespread, feeling like you are truly a Paragon (or are you Renegade for life?). For the most part, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a solid RPG that I’d strongly recommend for newcomers and veterans alike!

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4 thoughts on “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review”

  1. I’ve always been a fan of RPG’s, so much that they are actually my favorite genre. I haven’t played Skyrim yet but I did play Oblivion religiously. If I were to play Skyrim in the future I would choose the mage or the thief. Of course my choice will solely depend on how fun each of the characters are. Thanks a bunch for this great review, I might have to finally give this game a whirl!

  2. Wow, this is a great review and explanation of the purpose and strategy of the game. The fact that you explained your feeling on how it would benefit explorative people but would not be too great for people who like to role play is exceptional. Your ranking at the end was very helpful also.

  3. Sounds interesting. It has been a long time since I played video games. But I do remember the fun was completing levels. Now is that how this game is designed. Remember I am a 60’s kid so our games were fun but no match for these new games. I have played on a play station before but these new games have awesome graphics and everything. Is there a lot of battle parts to this game?

    1. Absolutely! Skyrim is an almost endless game of RPG-grinding, increasing your exp and stats. You will be fighting common mobs like Frost Trolls, Ancient Dragons, Skeleton armies, Goblins, Giants a lot of undead monsters.

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